If you answered "no", then spaying or neutering your pet is absolutely essential.

Spaying is the surgical sterilization of a female animal by removing the ovaries, oviduct, and uterus. Neutering is the surgical sterilization of a male animal by removing the testicles.

Both surgeries are safe when done by a qualified veterinarian. And not only are they safe, having your pet spayed or neutered also has significant health benefits.

The other compelling reason to spay or neuter your pet is the very real fact that there are not enough loving homes available to adopt all the needy pets. Humane societies, animal shelters, dog pounds, rescue foundations ... they are all forced to humanely euthanize animals simply because no homes were available.

Others, who are not so fortunate, die in the streets. Their deaths are not so humane: they can die from exposure to the elements - bitter winds, cold temperatures, or extreme heat; a slow starvation, trying but unable to scrounge enough food to survive; a painful disease, slowly weakening them until they can no longer keep going; poisoning, or outright cruelty.

People often balk at having their pet spayed or neutered ... and for various reasons.

Reason #1:

"It's not right to neuter a male. Only females should be sterilized because they're the ones that have litters."
This view forgets one important point: it takes both a male and a female to produce a litter. In fact, males can father far more young than a female could ever produce in a lifetime.

And what happens if your intact male escapes the house and mates with an intact female?

It's both owners' responsibilities to be sure their pets have been spayed or neutered.

Reason #2:

"I want my children to see the miracle of birth."
There are other ways of teaching children about birth that do not involve bringing unwanted animals into this world. For example, visits to a farm or a zoo can show them the same thing. Videos and books are also an option.

Reason #3:

"Don't worry, we'll find homes for the litter."
Maybe so ... but for every new animal that's brought into this world, there are others waiting to be adopted from humane societies and animal shelters.

Reason #4:

"Females should be allowed to have one litter."
There is no reason for a female to have a litter; she will mature properly without it. It will not improve her health or permanently change her personality.

In fact, spaying your pet before her first heat will significantly reduce her chances of developing breast cancer later in life.

Reason #5:

"Spaying or neutering my pet will make it fat."
Proper exercise and nutrition will keep your pet healthy. If your pet is overweight, cut down the amount you feed and fit in a few more minutes of exercise.

Healthy animals are put down every day because there are simply not enough homes for them - and more and more come in everyday. It is heartbreaking to know that a loving, happy, and healthy animal is to be euthanized.

We must all work together to stop uncontrolled and irresponsible breeding of our pets. We can help to stop the suffering of these innocent creatures by reducing the number of unwanted pets being brought into this world.

Do your part by having your pet spayed or neutered. You'll be saving more than just one life!

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