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« 91 year old woman dead from apparent dog attack | Main | New Florida bill seeks to mandate shelter transparency »

February 15, 2013

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Nichole

Thanks for sharing this. I have often wondered why they don't do vasectomies for male dogs, especially because it could encourage some owners who don't want them to be fully castrated (guys who don't want their dogs to lose their "balls").

Randy

Very tough subject. On the one hand one does not want to impact the health of the animal. On the other hand millions die in shelters each year and they did not come from the stork. I would like to say that responsible owner ship is the key but realistically just don't believe that will ever happen in our life time. Heck can't even get responsible owner ship for children in some cases. And then of course you have some folks that intentionally breed knowing that animals die in the shelters every day! If I could wave a majic wand I guess for me I would rather see some medical problems created by spay and neuter rather than millions EU'd in the shelters each year. Any other ideas?

Brent

Randy, it is a tough subject and I do think there is a John Stewart Mill "Greater Good" thing to consider.

However, I think we need to be careful to not tie ourselves to it's either this or that -- and explore other options -- including delaying the spay/neuter of puppies in shelters until they can fully mature, or better yet, explore other forms of sterilization that are less harmful than spay/neuter (like vasectomies/tubal ligations). There may be unexplored options where we can have the best of both worlds.

Randy

Good thoughts Brent. I know at least from a shelter view point the delay of spaying and neutering presents two concerns. One-If you delay and still hold in the shelter then you have space issues. Plus the younger ones are more eaisly adopted. Two-if you release the yonger non fixed animals to new owners even with a prepaid spay and neuter the return rate for the spay and neuter procedure is not good even under threat of citation. Read as you have breeding potential dogs out there. Now I like the vasectomy/tubal idea a bunch. Guess the question would be how much more complicated is that for the vet which might trnslate into more $. Way beyond my area of expertise to answer!

Brent

Randy, our experience with sending animals out unaltered and having them return for surgery has been pretty good. Most people want altered pets, and are happy to do so. We occassionally have issues with people coming back, but rarely.

And yes, the idea of tubal ligation/vasectomy is not mine, nor do I know of the complications/costs/challenges of that surgery to spay/neuter -- nor are we certain of the health impacts of that, but I have to believe it would be less intrusive than full spay/neuter and removing the hormones from the body development.

Randy

My experience in Texas was we had about a 10% non return rate. Various reasons given. Moved, animal deceased, animal given away etc. Perhaps some valid perhaps some not. Took a fair amount of staff time to follow up. Hence the move to younger spay and neuter. One could argue if that was right but it was done to address a preceived problem. ie. non altered animals. I guess numbers would vary by facility. 10% does not sound like much but at even 1,000 animals per year adds up. Much less a facility that may take in tens of thousands. It is good to hear you are having good success with your rates. I know there are some groups that advocate marketing and adoptions primarily. And some that advocate spay an neuter primarily. Given the size of the issue it would seem like a joint approach would be appropriate. The good news is the more focus on the issue the more likely hood of a resolution! Appreciate the time and effort you have put in on this blog. Quite frankly its the only one I know of that attempts to present both sides of each issue in a non emotional lets see if we can address the problem forum! Thanks heaven too at lest to date it has not been over run by folks with "other agenda's" and taken off topic. Thanks for the good work!

Brent

Thanks Randy - and thanks for adding to the discussion. I always hope this can remain a place for intelligent debate because if we quit debating some of the issues, or ignoring them, we will lose a lot of good ideas for success.

Doris Muller

Thanks for this very interesting and important information.

Considering the affects of loss of hormones on humans, I've often wondered what affect the loss of hormones had on the animals. I can't help but think there's so much more that should be studied.

Lis Carey

So far, it doesn't appear to me that the likelihood of bad effects are high enough for any individual dog to make early spay/neuter unacceptable as a shelter practice. 10% non-return rate actually seems reasonably low to me, especially given that some of those non-returns are likely to be people who preferred to use their own vet. But on the other hand, none of the dogs in shelters should be reproducing, so I don't have a problem with early spay/neuter in that context.

Once an intact animal is in a responsible home, though, the owners of that animal have a right to be fully informed on BOTH the risks and the benefits of early or late spay/neuter. Most people want altered pets; however, many might choose to alter later rather than earlier if they knew there are health consequences to the choice.

Zia

I have been so upset since i read this a few days ago. I've been searching the internet for more research. If anyone has any additional research on the adverse health effects of spay/neuter I want to read it. Please send it to ZiaSavesDogs at gmail dot com. I am a board member for a spay/neuter clinic and would like all the info i can get my hands on.

I have a pit bull who is currently 3 days out of her 2nd ccl (canine cruciate ligament surgery) She was spayed at 8 weeks old. Which makes sense according to the study and also really upsets me.

This does beg the question, do we wait till they are all 1 year old? Do we sacrifice dog health until the dog population is under control in the US (due to euthanasia #'s)? What does this mean for us, animal advocates and spay/neuter clinics?

Brent

Zia -- I agree that this is a challenging question, but I really appreciate you wanting to ask the question "what does this mean to us?" And no, I don't believe we know all the answers yet. By all accounts, waiting until dogs are older to spay/neuter seems definitely in order. I also think exploring other means of sterilization (that don't eliminate growth hormones) is in order. I don't think we can run from this one -- and the sooner we tackle it the better off we'll be. I fear the potential public backlash from the public on the rescue community if we DON'T address it. Because if we're not concerned about the health of animals (which admittedly, does include them dying in shelters), then we shouldn't be in this.

Brent

BTW Zia - if you go into the link to the full article, it cites most of the existing research on this topic and you can probably find some of them online. Ted Keresote also addresses some of this in his newest book -- and once I get to that part I'll be posting more about it for sure.

Brent

Lis -- I have to confess that I'm really concerned about this. On one hand there is an understandably huge concern about the number of pets out there, and shelter deaths, and the importance of spay/neuter in minimizing this. On the flip side, I do think public awareness of the risks is growing (mine certainly is), and what happens when 10-20% of the population of new pet owners opt against adoption because they don't want their pet spay/neutered, or don't want it done at such a young age? I know the 10% chance of Hip Dysplasia, or 8% chance of cruciate ligament repair or the 10% likelihood of lymphoma would make me think twice about adopting a young puppy that was already altered.

Brent

Zia -- here is another article (if you were searching online you probably found it) by Laura Sandborn on the topic from several years ago. All of the data is sources, so another resource for the research on the topic:

http://www.naiaonline.org/pdfs/LongTermHealthEffectsOfSpayNeuterInDogs.pdf

Aisling

It's hemangiosarcoma, not hermangiosarcoma. My collie died of this just as she was turning nine. She'd been spayed at about ten months old.

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