Lifestyle

COLUMN: It's hip to be snipped

Paw Prints by Laurie Chortyk

The BC SPCA is urging pet guardians and all animal lovers to do their part to help end the tragedy of pet overpopulation in British Columbia. The non-profit animal welfare society is highlighting the benefits of spaying and neutering for pets during Spay/Neuter Awareness Month in February.

“The terrible reality is that there are still many more animals born in our province every year than there are homes for,” says Lorie Chortyk, general manager of community relations for the BC SPCA. “The SPCA and other rescue groups find homes for thousands of these abandoned or surrendered animals every year, but we know that there are so many more who suffer and die after being abandoned by their guardians. It is heartbreaking because this is a completely preventable problem.”

She notes that in 2011 the BC SPCA’s 37 branches took in more than 32,000 abandoned, neglected, injured and abused animals.

“We find that with many pet guardians it is attitude, rather than cost, that prevents them from having their animals sterilized,” says Chortyk. “They love their pets, but they don’t realize that by not having them spayed or neutered they may be impacting their pet’s quality of life and the bond they could be sharing.”

Some of the benefits of spaying and neutering include:

n Decreased aggression. Neutering generally reduces aggressive behaviours in pets.  Neutered dogs are calmer and less likely to bite, attack or get into altercations at the dog park. Neutered cats don’t have the drive to mark and protect their territory and are less likely to spray or get into cat fights;

n Calmer, happier pets. Female cats go in and out of heat every three weeks between January and November. In addition to preventing unwanted litters, spaying your cat will reduce her desire to escape to find a mate, spraying or inappropriate elimination, howling and attracting unwanted male cats onto your property;

n Increased health. Spaying or neutering your pet reduces the likelihood of them developing uterine, ovarian and testicular cancers;

n Good overall pet care. Having your pet sterilized also provides an opportunity to have other important health procedures performed, as necessary, such as teeth cleaning;

n It is  the perfect time to get an ID tattoo or microchip. In SPCA shelters, only 11 per cent of cats are returned to their guardians, mainly because they lack identification –compared to a return rate for dogs of 65 percent.

If cost is a concern, check with your local SPCA. It provides assistance to low-income pet guardians where possible and many communities have low-cost spay/neuter funds administered through the local government. For more information on spaying and neutering your pet, visit spca.bc.ca.

Lorie Chortyk is the general manager of community relations for the BC SPCA.

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