By Diane Mulvey, Payson
I would like to add to your coverage of the spay-neuter policy of the Payson Humane Society.
First of all, it is only humane societies that are performing the early spay-neuters, and most of them have their own vet clinic on site and their doctors may become skilled at this procedure. Nothing changes the fact that very small nerves, vessels and organs are being pushed and pulled during this surgery.
Of course, the majority of vets will agree with their professional organization. But if you were to ask the same doctors if they perform the surgery, they would say no. That is because their clients do not request the surgery on their young pets. If you survey the vets in any large metropolitan area you will find the vast majority do not perform this surgery. The vets attached to humane societies, (the only ones who may require the early surgery) are the only vets who may become skilled at this.
I know personally of one female dog from a Valley humane association who has urinary tract damage attributed to two different Valley vets, caused by the early spay this dog underwent.
I know of one female dog in Payson from a Valley shelter that has the same urinary problem. The owner contacted her local vet and was told that "there is a pill for that" and contacted a second Payson vet who confirmed that a lifetime of pills was the only solution for this family's young pup. Pills, and washing the dog and her bedding every time she slept through a full bladder.
Certainly early spay and neuter programs will be effective in the population control of pets. Clearly, as the humane society waits for (pets to reach) 6 weeks of age to be spayed and neutered (your article reported that they can be "adopted" at 6 weeks but will be held until 8 weeks) young kittens and pups may arrive at a full shelter and be put to sleep before they are the requisite age to undergo surgery.
The early spay neuter program will be good for the people who put their young litters in shopping carts in front of local stores for adoption. The owner can say "save my baby from premature surgery" and the potential "parent" can think "I can save this one from premature mutilation of tiny insides." And then may or may not ever have that animal spayed or neutered.
Or, as one two-year-old male pup I know of was handled after an early neuter: when the owner grew tired of constant urinary tract infections reported to him to be the result of stunted urethra development caused by the pup's neuter surgery, the dog was abandoned.
I urge the Payson Humane Society to concentrate on an education program that teaches the public the benefits of spaying and neutering (as outlined in your article). Also, all shelters should offer some financial assistance for the spay and neuter surgeries of the dogs and cats who already have homes.
Until the public has been thoroughly educated about the real dollars it takes to raise a healthy pet and the real benefits to the owner and the animal of being spayed or neutered, the problems will not go away.
Let's work on education, not potential mutilation by micro-surgery.