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World Spay Day aims to encourage spaying and neutering of domestic pets

“Help control the pet population.  Have your pets spayed or neutered.”  Those famous words from beloved The Price is Right game show host Bob Barker were more than just a catchy sign-off phrase — they were a call to action.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), in the United States alone, approximately 920,000 shelter animals are euthanized each year.  

Dana Johnson, former director of the Monongalia County Canine Adoption Center, previously told The Dominion Post that in 2020 the center had approximately 680 cats come in and of those, 320 had to be euthanized.  That year they also took in around 450 dogs, of which 79 were euthanized, she said.

Attempts to get updated numbers were unsuccessful in time for this report.

To bring awareness to this worldwide problem and the health benefits spaying and neutering can have on your pet, the last Tuesday in February each year has been designated World Spay Day, which will be celebrated this year on Feb. 22.

“There are numerous benefits to spaying and neutering.  The most obvious for domestic animals is to reduce pet overpopulation,” said Dr. Jesse Fallon, co-owner of Cheat Lake Animal Hospital.  “It reduces the risk of pets who may not have individual owners to care for them and reduces their risk of things like infectious diseases and problems that can be associated with trauma and nutritional problems.” 

Fallon said for cats in particular, spaying or neutering is key due to the large populations of feral domestic cat colonies throughout the U.S. and here in the local area. 

“We want to keep those populations of animals down,” he said.  “They have a shorter lifespan, poorer quality of life and lots of challenges associated with being outdoors.

“Dogs likewise,” he added.  “There are problems with dog overpopulation in certain parts of the country, and some shelters in certain states and regions have too many, and with too many pets we end up having to go down the road of euthanasia in some cases, rather than finding them homes.”

Overpopulation isn’t the only reason to spay or neuter your pets.  According to Fallon, there can also be significant benefits to a pet’s individual health.

“With females, which would be a spay, we worry about things like unwanted pregnancy, which can happen during their first cycle,” he said.  “We worry about things like infection in the reproductive tract, which we call pyometra, which can be an emergency that is life-threatening.”

Fallon unspayed females have an increased risk of developing mammary tumors or mammary cancer and in males, neutering can essentially eliminate the possibility for certain kinds of cancers.

He added that with both males and females there are some behavioral benefits from spaying and neutering as well.  “Those can include things like tendencies to be wandering looking for mates as well as, in some cases, things like aggression.”

To bring awareness to the importance of spaying and neutering pets in Monongalia County and to celebrate World Spay Day, the Monongalia County Humane Society is offering free spay and neuter vouchers to the first 150 animal owners who request one.

According to Humane Society Board Member Liz Zuchowski, the free voucher can be used at most local veterinary clinics and will cover the cost of a spay or neuter surgery and the first rabies shot, potentially saving hundreds of dollars.  It is up to the pet owner to make appointments and surgery arrangements with the vet of their choice.

Zuchowski said the vouchers are available and will be until all 150 are distributed.  To request one or for more information, call Zuchowski at 304-291-0012.

If you aren’t able to get in on the voucher, there are still other options for affordable spays and neuters.  The Humane Society, along with several other animal rescue groups in the area, offer discounted spay and neuter vouchers year-round, but Zuchowski said the cost can vary.  

For information or to request a regular discounted voucher, Zuchowski said to call the Humane Society at 304-296-6247.  

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