The lives of dogs changed radically with the urbanization of the United States, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal on Feb. 5 by Cynthia Crossen. "When most people lived in rural areas, dogs were guardians and workers, hunting game, catching mice and herding livestock," she wrote. "As people migrated from farms to cities, many dogs lost their jobs."
In the cities, these dogs were allowed to roam and breed unrestricted. Soon, towns and cities were overrun with feral dogs. Many of these were malnourished and therefore susceptible to disease, fleas and ticks.
In 1877, New York City built its first pound, hired dog catchers and began rounding up the stray dogs. Owners had 48 hours to reclaim their dogs.
According to Crossen's article, the unclaimed dogs -- up to 100 at a time -- were put into an iron cage and lowered into the East River by a derrick. After six minutes, the cage was raised out of the water.
Think about that for a minute.
Our methods of euthanizing dogs today have improved, but dog overpopulation is still out of control. According to the American Kennel Club Web site, over four million dogs are taken into shelters across the country each year. Less than half of them ever leave again. Euthanasia is necessary because of the tremendous overcrowding. There are not enough homes for all of these dogs. The same plight is true for cats.
We taxpayers pay over a billion dollars each year through animal control programs faced with caring for and euthanizing the millions of homeless cats and dogs. Approximately five million cats and dogs each year, most of them healthy and adoptable, are euthanized simply because there are not homes for them.
Puppies and kittens, lots of them, are the consequence of owners who do not spay or neuter dogs and cats, whether we realize it or not. Intact males will escape and find those available females.
There is an answer and it is so simple. Spay and neuter your pets. There are some, particularly men, who refuse to neuter their male dogs. Somehow they think it will make them different, less male. We do what we can to change their minds. Until then, at least we can focus on spaying the females. It will lead to frustrated male dogs but the unwanted puppy population would begin to be reduced.
Spay Day USA is Feb. 27. Beyond the fact that it rhymes, I guess they feel that if we can spay the females, we will be doing what we can to cut down on the number of litters.
So, let's get those females spayed now.
Spaying females and neutering males are both safe and simple surgeries. Actually, spaying and neutering improves the life of dogs and cats in so many ways. Neutered male dogs and cats are less likely to roam, fight and spray.
Neutering your male dog eliminates testicular cancer and decreases the incidence of prostate disease. Spaying of females eliminates uterine or ovarian cancer and greatly reduces the risk of breast cancer. Spaying or neutering helps your pet live a longer, happier and healthier life and he/she will become a more devoted member of the family.
The Payson Humane Society is offering special programs to help pet owners with the cost of spaying and neutering. For cat owners, PAWS in the Park has donated funds for a rebate program.
Pick up the coupon at the PHS and have your pet spayed or neutered between now and May 31 of this year. Bring a copy of the vet bill, showing proof of the surgery, and the rebate coupon to the shelter and you will receive $20 in cash. Coupons are limited, so get yours right away and make that appointment.
For dog owners, a special grant was received by the Payson Humane Society to help pay for spaying and neutering. The time is limited and the amount of assistance is dependent upon the financial need of the pet owner and the size of the dog.
There will be a low-cost spay and neuter clinic in Payson on Thursday, March 29, sponsored by the Payson Humane Society. Call (928) 474-5590, for more information about any of these terrific and helpful programs.
Every puppy and kitten deserves a chance at a home, a loving family and a healthy life. The only way that can happen is if we limit the number of these babies by spaying and neutering our pets. It is the right thing to do. It is the only thing to do.