It is puppy and kitten season again.

It is puppy and kitten season again. The arrival of abandoned baby animals is an annual event. The killing of millions of companion animals in our country due to over-crowded shelters would end when owners spay and neuter their pets.

While there are 10,000 humans born each day, 70,000 puppies and kittens are born. National Animal Welfare groups who have studied this problem estimate that only one out of every 10 animals born will find a life-long, permanent home.

The outcomes for animals who do not find a home are dismal. They become homeless on the streets. The National Humane Education Society estimates that 5-10 million stray dogs and cats live on the streets of America. They become victims of predators and human mistreatment or they starve to death. Others will experience cruelties in dog fighting rings when they are used as "bait" for training fighting dogs.

Stopping the suffering is simple…become part of a humane solution by sterilizing your pet. Sterilization of pet animals improves their health and life expectancy. A dog's life expectancy increases by one to three years. Felines will live an average of three-five years longer. There is no downside to this practice other than the minimal risks of anesthesia and surgery. Pregnancy involves greater risk. Sterilization of pets is good for you, your pet and the community.

You will benefit by having a less aggressive, more affectionate, calm companion. Altered animals have fewer temperament problems. Dogs and cats mark and spray less. Heat cycles cease to occur. In cats, the cycle lasts from three to 15 days three or more times a year. Felines in heat vocalize persistently and show nervous behavior. They attract unwanted males. Dogs come into heat approximately every six months with spotting lasting from four to 20 days. Who wants to go through all of this two to three times a year?

There are health benefits for your pet. Ovarian and uterine cancer in females does not occur and breast cancer incidence is reduced, as is prostate cancer in males. Neutered animals are not likely to run off or engage in fights. It is a complete myth that sterilization is "unnatural" and affects the sexual nature of pets. They have no sexual nature, just hormonal effects and instincts.
The community benefits by saving tax dollars. The capture, impoundment and destruction of abandoned and unwanted animals cost more than sterilization. Stray animals are a public nuisance. They soil our yards, frighten our children, attack and sometimes kill our own pets and livestock. Dogs and cats in our streets can cause auto accidents.

The myths that people continue to persist in believing and use as an excuse not to have their pet sterilized are just that…myths. Your pet will not have behavior changes or become fat and lazy. Your female does not need one litter before spaying. The American Veterinary Medical Association states that dogs and cats can be sterilized before their first "heat" between 8 and 16 weeks of age.

Those who think it is an enrichment experience for their children to witness birth might consider another enrichment experience…that of witnessing the outcome of pet overpopulation by visiting Animal Control. Even though you may find homes for puppies and kittens born to your unsterilized family pets, the fact is that an equal number of animals die at shelters because they cannot find homes.

Spaying and neutering is not too expensive. For those with limited resources, there are options for low-cost sterilization at clinics in Leavenworth and there are many low- cost clinics doing spay/neuter surgeries in the greater Kansas City area. These programs and clinics are easy to find by internet searches or using the yellow pages.

Anne Divine is a member of LAWS and has volunteered at Animal Control for 18 years.
She can be reached at: