The American Way to Animal Population Control
The day I had to put my precious English Mastiff to sleep was one of the hardest days of my life.
She was just four years old. No health problems. With one exception. She would not stop attacking her long-time housemate.
No matter what method was followed or what attempt was made, she had snapped and I wasn’t getting my girl back. Suffocating under a monstrous $7,500 vet bill after getting my mixed breed sewn back together twice, I made that ultimate, dreadful decision no animal lover ever wants to make.
It had started when, after months of being ‘talked to’ by my parents to get her fixed, I caved and took her to the vet.
Three months later, while at church, my mix must have done something that she absolutely did not like because she ripped him open like a piñata.
And never stopped trying to get at anything smaller than her from then on. Including the neighbor’s grandchildren.
Differences in Pet Sterilization Practices
To understand what had happened to a dog that had been raised with an extremely loving hand, I spent some time researching the subject. What I found was alarming.
No amount of education I had ever received prepared me for the possible consequences of sterilizing my pet! Since I reside within the U.S. where the ASPCA is the largest animal education community, my knowledge of spaying/neutering a dog was missing chunks.
The ASPCA’s top priority is population control. And rightfully so as they house millions of pets all over the country, every year.
Which is why, in the United States, pet sterilization is not only recommended, it’s somewhat of a necessity, where even purebred breeding is frowned upon throughout our society.
But it is not so for the Europeans. They view the subject much differently. Their animal population is also drastically fewer than our own. There they view responsibility of their pets in a light that many Americans do not.
The Europeans see no need to sterilize a pet unless there is a medical issue in which sterilization would resolve. This mind set might be better understood when we take a peek at the life span stats of American Vs. European dogs. In Europe, canine life expectancy is quite higher than in the United States.
One of the biggest differences in the way we care for our animals is the frequency in which we sterilize our pets.
In fact, the Norwegians have outlawed sterilization of animals all together, calling it animal cruelty. Unless there is an absolute necessity for the operation, one will not be performed.
The social emphasis people put on the care they take in providing for their animal seems to be enough to keep each other in check, as their homeless shelters are not filled as those in the US.
Effects of Sterilization on Animal Behavior
In the US, we are so often told than sterilizing our animal will cause the dog to relax and mentally mature more rapidly. This is often used as justification to execute the sterilization process.
But studies suggest that many times, the sterilization cause the opposite effect on the animal. In my case, a perfectly healthy, happy and loving dog became viciously aggressive with no ability to alter the behavior.
While aggression is one of the possible consequences of sterilization, many other unwanted behaviors can form as well.
Using the Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire (C-BARQ), studies were done to evaluate the effects of sterilization on a total of about 14,000 dogs.
8% experienced an increase in excitability
33% experienced an increase in their sensitivity to touch
31% showed an increase in the amount of fear they showed within their environment.
With these factors in mind, questions are raised as to what about this procedure creates such significant changes.
The answer is the endocrine system. When an animal is spayed/neutered, the endocrine system stops functioning properly without hormone replacement. This collection of glands is responsible for things such as the sleep, mood, development and tissue function.
Left to its own devices it sets off a butterfly effect throughout the body and brain! Which also creates a mess of other issues that can no longer be self regulated. The deprivation of these hormones causes the immune system to weaken and become susceptible to disease.
Health Risks Associated with Animal Sterilization
No doubt there are a few benefits to the health of the animal by sterilization, such as relieving the pet of the chances in generating canine testicular or ovarian cancer.
Compared to the very long list of health risks correlated with sterilization, getting rid of just a few possible cell abnormalities, do not seem to be such a priority anymore.
- Sterilizing your pet triples, the risk of hypothyroidism
- Quadruples the risk of prostate cancer
- Doubles the chances of obtaining frequent urinary tract infections
- Increases adverse reaction to vaccinations in female dogs
Bone and hip problems are also associated with sterilization, such as osteosarcoma and hip dysplasia. The longer the animal can develop in age, the better the chances are for avoiding these common health risks all together.
Do Your Homework
When weighing the option of whether to sterilize your dog, consider your options by doing your homework to see if there is another solution you can try before making the ultimate decision to perform an irreversible operation on your pet.
What is your situation like? If your pet is a fence jumper, no doubt the option of sterilization is an important one to consider. Is there something else you can do? Possibly monitoring the animal while outside is all that is needed to fix the issue.
Weigh the pros and cons that are relevant to what you consider to be top priority according to your situation. Make a list side by side if you are still unclear about where you stand.
But do your homework! Do not make a decision based on your opinions of what you think to be true. Often time, these are not. Research to the best of your ability and be able to back up your reasoning with sound authoritative information.
Most importantly, make the decision that s right for you. If you do not feel comfortable one way or the other, do not go with that decision. Your gut will steer you correctly with your beloved pet.
For more information on spaying/neutering your dog, visit any of these sites