To neuter or not to neuter, that is the question.
First, the basics: Male animals sans testicles are usually referred to as neutered. The term spayed typically describes a female animal that has had her ovaries and uterus removed. A spade, on the other hand, is a garden tool. Although implements were used in the spay procedure, hopefully none were spades. Since neutered can simply mean desexed, a female can be referred to as neutered but males are not considered spayed, or spade for that matter.
Spay and neuter operations can cut down on more than furry fornication. If you neuter your male pets early, urine marking, aggression and dominance issues can be mitigated. Same goes for the indiscriminate humping of your leg, cat and couch resulting from the fact that your dog is wound up tighter than a Springer Spaniel. In felines, this can culminate in tomcat tomfoolery that torments your neighbors.
Spaying a female eliminates messy menses and visits from roaming Romeos. It can also be incredibly cost-effective compared to the cost of raising a flurry of furry fluffballs. Romeo’s guardians may consider neutering a relative bargain after being hit up for child support or damages incurred during breakouts of their yard and/or into the neighbors’.
Neutering does more than keep Houdini huskies and Persian paramours safe at home. It also helps keep them safe from some diseases. For example, male dogs benefit from reduced risk of testicular cancer and some prostate disorders. Spaying helps prevent breast cancer which is fatal in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. However, it increases the risk of bone cancer and contributes to urinary incontinence.
After a Rutgers University study did an exhaustive review of the existing data on neutering canines, they found, “An objective reading of the veterinary medical literature reveals a complex situation … the evidence shows that spay/neuter correlates with both positive and adverse health effects in dogs.”
There is another consideration to not fixing our companion animals. There simply are not enough homes for the pets we’re permitting to be bred. According to the Humane Society of the United States, approximately seven million animals enter shelters annually. Only about half find homes; the other half is euthanized. The nonprofit organization Social Compassion in Legislation says a dog born in California has a one in four chance of dying in a shelter.
One way compassionate caregivers can help remedy this situation is to spay and neuter and encourage others to do the same. By not insisting on experiencing the miracle of birth, you’ll allow more of our faithful friends to experience the miracle of life. Although we may miss out on baby bulldogs and calico kittens, our neighbors may not miss tolerating our tomcats or spunky spaniels.
When it comes to neutering, a spayed is not always a spade. There are many aspects to consider. To neuter or not to neuter? As in most things in life, perhaps the answer boils down to what would Dog do?
• Moksha McClure, a lifelong animal lover and vegetarian, is the founder of Whiskers Resort, a pet hotel in Lihu‘e.Visit www.whiskersresort.com or call 241-PETS.