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Spaying or neutering your animal has benefits beyond unwanted births

Posted: July 13, 2012 6:55 p.m.
Updated: July 13, 2012 6:55 p.m.

Dr. Michael Hutsenpiller prepares to perform a spay surgery at the AngelDogs Foundation mobile clinic.

 

As many pet owners know, spaying or neutering is the proven method of preventing unwanted births. What many might not know is that spaying and neutering also provides health and behavioral benefits that add to the quality of life for your pet, not to mention the duration.

“In males, neutering helps primarily by deterring certain hormone-driven behaviors, such as male dominance, which can include marking, territoriality and trying to find a way out of the yard in order to seek females in heat,” said Dr. Evelyn Vega, veterinarian and owner of Happy Pets Veterinary Center in Valencia.

According to the Association of Pet Behavior Counselors, neutering a male dog will reduce these problems by 50 percent (inappropriate scent marketing) to 90 percent (roaming to find a potential mate). Spaying a female dog will stop her heat cycles, and with it, unwanted attention from male dogs and the urge to roam. Studies indicate that 85 percent of dogs hit by cars are unaltered.

“Neutering males also obviously prevents testicular cancers because the testicles are removed and it can help prevent some types of prostate diseases or cancers,” Vega said.
For females, Vega said, spaying at an early age can help prevent or lessen the chance of developing mammary tumors.

“The most important reason is that it will prevent a pyometra from developing. Pyometra is when the uterus gets infected, and it fills up with purulent material,” Vega said. “If not diagnosed, this can be fatal. If diagnosed early, the treatment is to remove the uterus as soon as possible. This procedure is much more complicated to perform and the cost can be two to three times as much as a spay.”

The only time Vega would personally not recommend spaying or neutering to a pet owner is if the pet has a health condition that may make the surgery a risk to perform, such as heart disease, lung disease or center cancers. Otherwise, Vega recommends all pets be spayed or neutered.

“At Happy Pets, we recommend that the pet be at least 5 months of age or older and weigh at least 5 pounds,” she said.

Spaying and neutering is also the solution to America’s pet overpopulation problem. Studies show that municipal shelters kill 4 million to 6 million pets every year, which costs taxpayers more than a billion dollars to capture, impound, euthanize and dispose of. 

Making the surgery accessible and affordable is the goal of the Santa Clarita Valley-based nonprofit AngelDogs Foundation, which operates a mobile clinic with locations at Saugus Speedway several times a month.

“People are having trouble feeding their kids, so spaying and neutering falls to the bottom of their priority list,” said Lisa Tipton, founder of AngelDogs Foundation. “I started out as a volunteer for a spay/neuter clinic, which lit a fire in me. I saw a real need in the community.”

Spay or neuter at the AngelDogs Foundation mobile clinic is $70 for cats and ranges between $115 for small dogs to $145 for large dogs. All surgeries include a post-surgical pain injection, a free microchip with registration and a rabies vaccination (e-collars and take home pain medications are provided for dogs).

“We only do spay/neuter, so we’re good at it. Pets are under anesthesia for a very short time, which reduces the chances of complications,” Tipton said. “We try to include as much as we can in the service and every pet we help is license-ready when they leave our clinic.”

Since March 2009, the nonprofit organization has performed more than 16,000 spay/neuter surgeries, many at a reduced cost or free to low-income populations through grant funding.

“We’re not going to rescue our way out of the pet overpopulation mess,” Tipton said. “Spaying and neutering addresses the cause at the root, which is that there are too many animals being born without enough homes.”

Happy Pets Veterinary Center is located at 27550 Newhall Ranch Road, Valencia. For more information, call 661-295-9972 or visit www.happypetsvet.com. For more information on AngelDogs Foundation, visit www.angeldogsfoundation.org or call 888-504-SPAY (7729).

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