A question that pet owners often ask themselves is whether or not to neuter or spay their pets. What if my pet isn’t of age? What if it takes long for them to recover? What if they aren’t the same anymore?
Nancy Bane, president of NWA Save Our Strays, said that all pets should be spayed or neutered, unless there is a medically necessary reason not to do so suggested by a licensed veterinarian, which is rarely the case.
“Hundreds of thousands of pets needlessly die in shelters each year simply because there are more pets than there are households that want them,” Bane said. “Feral cats and dogs out in the public are hit by cars, die of starvation or disease, but reproduce prior to their death, which compounds the problem. Spay or neuter is the only answer.”
Justine Lentz, Animal Services superintendent, also believes that spaying and neutering benefits, not only population control, but the pet’s health as well.
“Some benefits of the surgery include eliminating various cancers, keeping them healthy and living longer,” Lentz said. “Some pets who haven’t been spayed or neutered are a lot likely to run away, not because they don’t love you, but because it is their instinct. They are let loose, they are injured and that causes a lot of problems.”
Bane said she has heard many myths and excuses as to why pet owners don’t put their cat or dog through the surgery. Excuses like, “my pet needs to birth one litter before we spay because it’s the right thing to do,” or “his or her personality will change and they will gain wait” or “my dog is male so at least I won’t be stuck with the babies.”
“In addition to the myths, people thing it is someone else’s problem,” Bane said. “Unfortunately, a lot of cities and rural communities don’t have the funds for this and 99 percent of non-profit rescues can’t afford to take care of all animals either.”
Many people find the surgery to be expensive, but Lentz explains that there are many resources out there in the community so people are able to afford the surgery.
“The Fayetteville Animal Shelter does income based surgeries and the Humane Society of the Ozarks provide vouchers that aren’t based on income,” Lentz said. “So there are opportunities for all.”
There are also non-profit groups out there that are willing to help with the expenses of surgery on a case-by-case basis, Bane said.
“Washington and Benton Counties both have programs and several of the local shelters sell vouchers for a low cost,” Bane said. “If you adopt your pet from a shelter, usually the animal is already altered, or you receive a voucher to have it done at no additional cost above the adoption fee you’ve already paid.”
Many can be set at ease in knowing that there isn’t a certain age that pets can go though the surgery and pets are usually recovered after 24 hours, Lentz said.
There are a lot of resources out there in the community and both Lentz and Bane agree that the surgery is everyone’s responsibility.
“We are responsible for creating an over-abundance of pets, and we need to take responsibility for our actions,” Bane said. “If everyone does their part, in the long run, we all save money. Your taxes go to support city run shelters; the more strays that roam the streets, the more money will be spent on animal control, housing and feeding the animals, and ultimately, euthanizing the unwanted or unadoptable animals. Please do your part to help the situation at hand.”
A Few Shelters in NWA
Humane Society of the Ozarks — Fayetteville, www.hsozarks.thebelfordgroup.com
Fayetteville Animal Shelter — Fayetteville, www.accessfayetteville.org/government/animal_services/shelter_programs/pet_finder.cfm
NWA Save Our Strays — Bentonville, www.nwasaveourstrays.org
Good Shephard Humane Society — Eureka Springs, www.goodshepherd-hs.org
Save Our Strays — Rogers, www.humanesocietyanimals.org
For Pets Sake — Springdale, www.humanesocietyanimals.org
Washington County Animal Shelter — Fayetteville, www.co.washington.ar.us/index.aspx?page=611
Maverick’s Place Small Dog Rescue — Farmington, www.petfinder.com/shelters/AR293.html
Old Man’s Riverfront Rescue — West Fork, www.petfinder.com/shelters/AR304.html
Feline Friends — Pea Ridge, www.felinefriendsnwa.org
Blue Moon Cat Shelter — Fayetteville Petco and Witter, valleyofthebluemoon.net/kitty_retirement
Lost Love Animal Rescue — Throughout NWA, http://www.petfinder.com/shelters/AR177.html
Some Low Cost Spay/Neutering
City of Fayetteville Low Cost Spay/Neuter — Fayetteville, www.accessfayetteville.org/government/animal_services/shelter_programs/spay_neuter.cfm
Northwest Arkansas Animal Rescue — Mobile, www.nwaar.org
Spay Arkansas — Springdale, spayarkansas.org
Humane Society of the Ozarks Low-Cost Spay/Neuter — Vets Throughout NWA, www.hsozarks.thebelfordgroup.com/OurPrograms.aspx