The issue of spaying or neutering your pet is one of the most widely discussed animal welfare topics of our time. Most people agree it’s for the best.

Yet, it’s estimated that 70,000 dogs and cats are born in this country each day. Even if you don’t do the math, it’s obvious there aren’t enough homes to go around.

As a result, more than four million cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters annually. That’s well over 11,000 innocent creatures that die needlessly every day. Take a minute to think about what that figure represents, if you can stand it. It doesn’t speak well for us as a nation.

Rita Gutierrez, commander of field services for Riverside County Department of Animal Services, says the law mandates that all cats and dogs be spayed or neutered by the age of four months [Riverside County Ordinance 630]. If that doesn’t convince us, there are plenty of other reasons that should.

The procedure prevents many health problems, such as cancer. Altered females live longer. Both males and females are better behaved, less aggressive, cleaner, and roam less.Ask anyone who has tried to live with a cat in heat.

While many people avoid the surgery to save money, it actually costs more when you figure in dealing with the expense of litters and vet bills for related health problems over time. Finally, it’s good for our communities when there are fewer strays on our streets and in desperately overcrowded shelters.

Alter one; save hundreds.

Arguments opposed to altering our cats and dogs can’t stand up against the statistics. Yes, there are risks with any surgical procedure.

Of course, you can’t breed them. Well, that’s the idea. Does it contribute to weight gain? Sorry, but too much food and not enough exercise cause that.

Some feel quite strongly that prohibiting reproduction goes against what’s natural for the animal. Are we to assume, then, that it’s more natural for any animal to be euthanized?

Finally, and this is a good one, it keeps our children from experiencing the miracle of birth. Please, rent a video. Let’s teach our children to be responsible pet caretakers instead.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ website ( can help you locate the lowest-cost spay or neuter facility in your area.

Ramona Animal Hospital in San Jacinto will alter puppies and kittens that are at least eight weeks old. Fees for cats range from $32 to $42. For dogs, depending on weight and gender, the cost is from $52 to $107. Their phone number is (951) 654-3110. Ask about special rates, which they offer at certain times during the year.

Actors and Others is an organization that will send a voucher to help cover costs. Call them at (818) 755-6045 after you’ve made your vet appointment. The line is very busy, so you have to be persistent.

Animal Samaritans in Thousand Palms will alter feral cats for $25. Their number is (760) 343-3477.

Maria Lehman, director of Idyllwild Animal Rescue Friends, says ARF can provide assistance in some cases. Call (951) 659-1122 for more information.

Because of the immensity of the problem, the solution can’t be left just to our shelters and rescues. We can help by educating friends, family and neighbors about the importance of spaying and neutering. Offer resource information or transportation, if needed. Some of us might be in a position to give financial assistance to a senior on a limited income.

Individual involvement and action can make a difference in reducing the number of animals that will be put to death in 2013.


  1. Thank you for writing about this very important topic. I produce a regular animal-welfare column and blog for the Wilmington StarNews newspaper, way over on the other coast – in Southeastern North Carolina.

    And for more national topics, I produce my own Pack Mentality Blog.

    It's great to find other writers who are promoting animal welfare. Again – thank you!!

    Tom Grady