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In this case contraception is everyone’s responsibility


While we know many of the presidential candidates strongly disagree on the issue of contraception, in the case of spaying and neutering pets, we say it’s everyone’s responsibility.

Marking national SPAY Day (Feb. 28, just before the height of mating season), we remind you to show your pet some love by having them spayed or neutered. This not only saves lives but also improves your pet’s quality of life. We love our pets and know you probably love yours, too.

According to the Humane Society, nearly 4 million cats and dogs are put down in U.S. shelters each year. Here, the Pickens County Animal Shelter has taken in approximately 2,700 unwanted animals since its grand opening in March of last year. Of those animals, the shelter has adopted out 261 and relocated many others to rescue facilities. Unfortunately, just over 1,000 unwanted animals impounded at the shelter have been put down.

According to Pickens Animal Shelter Director Brandi Strawn, thus far in 2012, many of those euthanized animals were either sick, injured or aggressive. But during 2011, many were put down simply because the shelter needed the room.

“We just had so many animals coming in,” Strawn explained. She noted that while the beginning of 2012 has been on the “laid back side,” concerning animal intakes, right now is the slow season. Strawn expects the number of intakes to drastically increase in the spring.

Residents here often have at least a small amount of property or farmland where their dogs and cats can roam around outside. That seems fine as long as the animal is friendly. But having unspayed or un-neutered pets in the open, even if they are in a fenced-in backyard, is an invitation for disaster.

Cats can have, on average, three litters per year, with four to six kittens per litter. Dogs can have anywhere from one to four litters per year. If these offspring are not then spayed or neutered, the unwanted pet population can spiral out of control, leading to millions of unnecessary euthanizations, as we can see from the statistics above.

According to information provided by the Humane Society of the United States, two unaltered cats can lead to 420,000 cats in just seven years, while two unaltered dogs can result in 67,000 in six years.

The Humane Society also reports that six to eight million dogs and cats enter shelters each year. Of those, just three to four million are adopted, and 30 percent of dogs and two to five percent of cats are reclaimed by owners.

We know it is expensive, but beyond saving lives and improving your own pet’s life, we think it is actually easier on pet owners to spend the money and have their animal fixed up front, before the little fuzzballs start arriving.

Having a pet fixed makes life less stressful for the owner, who is otherwise forced to find homes for each new litter (which unfortunately means animals sometimes get dumped on the side of the road). For those owners who keep the additional pets around their home, it seems they would spend as much or more on food for extra kittens/puppies as they would on the spay/neuter cost. Beyond those issues, dealing with a pet in heat can be a stressor in itself.

Fortunately, vets often offer discounted spay/neuter rates at this time of year to help head off the pet overpopulation problem. Recently a few Jasper vets have run Progress ads advertising pet spay or neuter at low cost. So please, this spring, check around at local vets for a good price and have those pets spayed and neutered.

Also, we urge you to save a life by acquiring any new pet from the county shelter or from Pickens Animal Rescue, a no-kill facility that houses and adopts unwanted strays.

The shelter can be reached at 706-253-8988. Reach Animal Rescue at 706-692-2772.

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