As an avid animal lover, Saralyn Wasserman knows the happiness cats and dogs can bring . . . not only do these animals provide joy, but also comfort in times of grief. In the following article, Saralyn Wasserman provides details into the current rising pet population, and encourages those who already own pets — as well as prospective new owners — to consider spaying or neutering their cats and dogs.
In 2020, a record number of people adopted “pandemic pets” at their local animal shelters, resulting in the lowest shelter population seen in many years. But as life slowly returned to normal with people going back to workplaces and schools, many felt they could not give their pandemic-adopted pets the time and attention they needed, resulting in an overwhelming population of abandoned pets. And these days, as inflation worsens and people’s financial situations change, even more pets are being relinquished due to the associated expenses.
According to the COVID-19-Associated Reduction in Elective Spay-Neuter Surgeries for Dogs and Cats study published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science (Sept., 2022), there was a 10% drop in spay and neuter procedures in 2020 compared to 2019 — which translated to 190,818 fewer surgeries. Naturally, researchers noted that lockdowns affected this statistic. But there was also an industry-wide shortage of vets and technicians contributing to the decrease as well. Additionally, programs focused on spaying/neutering roaming community dogs and cats were not operating during shutdowns, leaving them to freely breed and multiply.
As a result, populations at local animal shelters are currently at unmanageable numbers, says Saralyn Wasserman, with many shelter having reached full capacity. A terrible consequence of this is that some people are now “dumping” their pandemic pets in local parks, along roadsides and in back alleys.
This sparks the need to motivate owners to seek sterilization services for their cats and dogs once again.
Why Experts Encourage Spaying/Neutering Pets
Experts are continuing to highlight the importance of spaying and neutering pets for reasons including:
To Slow Population Growth
Dogs are 15 times more — and cats are 45 times more — prolific than humans. With the ever-rising animal shelter population, and a decreasing number of people willing to adopt, Saralyn Wasserman says that spaying/neutering offers a practical, humane way to limit the population of homeless animals, ensuring a natural population reduction over time.
To Reduce Pet-Specific Health Risks
Saralyn Wasserman states that Pyometra and various reproductive cancers present real health threats to unsterilized cats and dogs, but owners can eliminate these potentially fatal transmissible illnesses by simply spaying or neutering. Also, treated cats and dogs tend to live longer lives, increasing cats’ lifespans by three to five years, and one to three years for dogs.
To Save the Community Money
Abandoned litters create community costs and increase shelter populations beyond their designed limits. Spaying/neutering ultimately helps to reduce financial and kennel space burdens by preventing litters from arriving in the first place.
Spaying/Neutering: The Key to a Well-Loved Pet Population
Saralyn Wasserman says that euthanasia rates increase in overpopulated shelters, and the availability of neutering procedures for cats and dogs has been the most important factor in reducing euthanasia rates due to overpopulation. Thus, spaying and neutering is key to maintaining a controlled and healthy population of cats and dogs.