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To spay and neuter or not to spay and neuter


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  • 1. To Spay and Neuter or Not To Spay and Neuter by Sandra Cash Professor Bouchard Crown College English Composition, Section 111 10 November 20111|Page
  • 2. In West Virginia, there is an ordinance that pet owners must spay or neuter theirpets by the age of six months, unless the pet is unfit for the procedure, in which case aveterinarian must state the reason in writing. In order to keep a pet that is not neuteredor spayed, the owner must apply for a permit and pay 50 dollars, unless the owner is abreeder, who must pay 30 dollars annually. Spaying and neutering for all pets is notappropriate, because it makes the pet susceptible to some diseases, and because itencourages breeding of only purebred animals, which will lead to genetic problems. Spaying and neutering for all pets by the age of six months is not healthy for allanimals. This is especially true of certain dog breeds. For example, Rottweilers thatkeep their ovaries until at least six years of age have a greater life expectancy thanthose which are spayed at a young age (Coile, 2010, p.20). The owner should talk tothe veterinarian about when would be the appropriate time to spay or neuter the pet,since breed comes into play as to when it is a good time to do this. Now not only is age an important factor in the decision of spaying and neutering,but the owner and veterinarian must also consider if this will make the pet susceptible toother diseases. Urinary incontinence, which is when a pet cannot to control the flow ofurine, is increased by spaying. As it is, big dogs – classified as a dog that weighs morethan 44 pounds - have a risk of this by 4.9 to 20 percent, but spaying increases theincidence of this. Thankfully, most dogs respond to treatment, but this is still difficult fortheir owners (Coile, 2010, p.21). This is just one example of what difficulties pets can besusceptible to due to spaying and neutering. More examples would be bladder cancer,for which survival rates are not good, osteosarcoma, which is a deadly tumor in thebone, hemangiosarcoma, which is another deadly cancer, and the list goes on and on.2|Page
  • 3. Every pet owner wants their companion to live as long as they can, so should theymake their companion have a shorter life and/or make their pet susceptible to diseases? The new ordinance also encourages breeding of only purebred animals, whichare prone to many more genetic problems. These genetic problems are due toinbreeding. Inbreeding happens because the breeder sees perfection in the two dogsand wants to keep that in the offspring, regardless of the genetic relationship betweenthe two. Dogs are becoming sicker and sicker due to the genetic problems, in realitydogs are being bred to death. There are at least 500 inbreeding genetic diseases, andthis keeps increasing as inbreeding continues. The genetic problems can have a huge range of problems. One example isneurological problems like Syringomyelia. This is when the brain is too big for the dog’sskull, and this causes a horrible headache that never goes away. Syringomyelia affectsthe Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed hugely. The only way to help these dogs is todo a risky operation in which a veterinarian takes out part of the back of the skull so thatthe brain can contract with each heartbeat. The likelihood of recovering from this kind ofoperation is poor, which is why if a dog has very severe syringomyelia, it is put down.To add to this, half of Cavaliers by the age of five human years will have heart disease,which in turn brings about premature death (BBC, 2008). Dr Clare Rusbridge who is aVeterinary Neurologist said this about inbreeding of Cavaliers in the BBC documentaryPedigree Dogs Exposed, “You know if you took a stick and beat a dog to get this painthat syringomyelia created you’d be prosecuted, but there is nothing to stop youbreeding a dog that can be that painful.”3|Page
  • 4. Inbreeding is endangering some breeds. For example, there are some 10,000purebred Pugs, but among all of those, only 50 will be genetically different. If we keepinbreeding dogs, they will come to a point where they cannot reproduce and we will loseour dogs. As proof of this, English Bulldogs can no longer mate or give birth on theirown, due to all the inbreeding that has occurred. In addition, a comparison of pictures ofGerman Shepherd from history and pictures of the same breed from today shows thatthere is a deformity developing from inbreeding. The deformity affects their backbone,and these dogs cannot support their back legs. Judges now describe the Show GermanShepherd as half dog, half frog (BBC, 2008). Inbreeding has produced a much greater risk of cancer in these pets. ForScottish Terriers the risk of bladder cancer is 18 times greater than in other dogs.Every time inbreeding occurs, the chances of cancer increase ("Dogs that changed theworld," 2007). These are just a few of the genetic problems, which are too many to listfor this paper. All of this evidence of what inbreeding has done to our purebreds is proving thatmixed breeds or “mutts” are healthier than purebreds (BBC, 2008). If other states makethis ordinance, purebred breeders will have a monopoly on pets, and ultimately we willlose our pets to inbreeding. The day this happens, it will be a very sad day. In contrast, the opposing side of this argument says that it is cheaper to spay orneuter at a younger age than when they are older (Bushby & Griffin 2011). Even thoughthis is true - it is cheaper for a pet to be spayed or neutered at a younger age- it is not4|Page
  • 5. necessarily healthy for all pets. When deciding to spay or neuter a pet, the owner andveterinarian must consider the breed of the pet, and the pet’s health history. Another argument is that this is the only way to battle pet overpopulation.Veterinarian Michael A. McLaughlin says this about the battle of pet overpopulation,“Frequently, our valiant attempts to control the pet overpopulation problem have struckme as a Sisyphean task.” He talks about the Greek myth where Sisyphus angeredHades and Hades punished him by forcing him every day to roll a huge rock up a steephill, but before he could reach the top of the hill, the rock would always roll back downagain, forcing him to start all over again (McLaughlin, 2009). Even though spaying andneutering is the main way to fight pet overpopulation, the decision to spay or neuter apet should be a choice that the owner and veterinarian decide, not the government. Even though the opposing side can argue on the other issues, they cannotdispute the problems caused by inbreeding, or the fact that this ordinance will promotepurebred breeding. As research has shown, spaying and neutering can cause somepets to become susceptible to some diseases and is not always healthy for the pet. Thisnew ordinance is not appropriate for these reasons, and is why the pet owner andveterinarian, not the ordinance, should decide spaying and neutering.5|Page
  • 6. ReferencesBBC. (2008, August 18). Pedigree Dogs Exposed. Retrieved November 10, 2011, fromTop Documentary Films:, P., & Griffin, B. (2011, Feb 1). An overview of pediatric spay and neuterbenefits and techniques - veterinary medicine. Retrieved from, Kate. (2011, Nov 09). First reading of spay-neuter ordinance ok’d . Bluefield DailyTelegraph. Retrieved from, D. (2010). The Spaying Gamble. Dog World, 95(7), 20-21.Dogs that changed the world selective breeding problems. (2007). Retrieved from, Dr. Paula (2011, October 13). Interview by S.E. Cash [Personal Interview]. A Dayin the Life of a Veterinarian.Gulli, C. (2011). Dogs gone. Macleans, 124(33/34), 25.Kirsti, M. (n.d). Clinics step in to slow the boom in cat population. USA Today.Macpherson, A. N. L., Meslin, F., & Wandeler, A. I. (2000). Dogs, zoonoses, and publichealth. Cambridge, MA, USA : CABI.McLaughlin, M. A. (2009). Pet overpopulation: An uphill battle. DVM: TheNewsmagazine Of Veterinary Medicine, 40(11), 22.Preece, O., & Chamberlain, L. (1995). Animal welfare and human values. Waterloo, ON,CAN : Wilfrid Laurier Univ Pr. Smith, Ethan, & Dauncey, Guy (2007). Building an ark : 101 solutions to animalsuffering. Gabriola Island, BC, CAN : New Society Publishers6|Page