Kristin Hugo, Global Animal
The Humane Society of the United States estimates that 3-4 million animals are euthanized annually in the US due to overpopulation. Spaying and neutering your animals prevents them from reproducing and contributing to that number. The routine operation can cost as little as $25 or less. It’s generally agreed among animal welfare proponents that its important that spaying and neutering is the best way to go, as is detailed by the Humane Society.
So, what happens if you never get around to neutering your pet? Maybe you don’t think you can afford it (even though you can) or that you just want to see what its like to have one litter. What’s the worst that can happen?
Say you have two rabbits, a male and a female. Rabbits are sexually mature at four months, and can have a litter of bunnies every month. You may not identify yourself as a breeder, but the animals don’t care. So, if you started with one male and one female, and each litter was eight rabbits, you could have ten within a month. The next month you’d have 18. Then 26, then 34, then 42, then, once the first litter has matured and had their first litter, you’d have 82 rabbits. In five months, you’d be completely overrun by bunnies. Dogs and cats don’t reproduce as quickly, but if they have access to a non-fixed dog or cat of the opposite sex, they will have no hesitation to mate.
If you’ve ever seen an episode of Animal Planet’s Confessions: Animal Hoarding, you know that the home of an animal hoarder is hellish. Animals can overwhelm you and your home before you even realize what has happened. Conditions often deteriorate as the house owner isn’t able to keep up with the maintenance of all their pets. The house starts to smell horrible due to the animal waste everywhere. The air becomes unfit for human and animal breathing because of the ammonia and dander in the air. The conditions in the house become dangerous, and the owner will likely become overwhelmed with trying to care for the animals. Even if you didn’t want many animals, you’ve accidentally become a hoarder.
At some point it is important to acknowledge the need for help. You can surrender your animals to animal services, but that means that most of them will go to kill shelters. You can try and give them to friends or use services like Petfinder and Craigslist to find new homes for them. You can start by separating the males and the females, and then giving away the females to people who will fix them. This is a large task if there are many animals to deal with.
If animal services finds that the animals were not well taken care of, there is a possibility of a charge of animal cruelty, including jail time. The animals can be even worse off if they become overcrowded, malnourished, ill, or are sent to be euthanized.
This can all be prevented with a cheap, common procedure. Despite all the campaigns urging pet guardians to fix their pets, USA Today details a survey commissioned by PetSmart Charities in 2010, which revealed that half of unsterilized pets acquired in the previous year were still not fixed.
It might seem scary to think that by simply forgoing an operation, one can end up losing their home, going to jail and sending animals to their deaths. Cats and dogs don’t reproduce as fast as rabbits, but it can easily get out of hand. Visit the American Humane Association on why and how to fix your pet, and avoid the above scenario by immediately getting your pet fixed. If you love animals, it’s the only humane thing to do.