Don't Litter: Spay/Neuter Week attempts to cut down on unwanted pets

Published 1:46 am Monday, March 17, 2003

By By James Crawford
Driving down the streets of Atmore you can occasionally find yourself in the situation of having something in common with nearly ever community in the United States. Unfortunately that something is not a good thing, it's a bad one. In fact it's a tragedy that most people overlook. They turn their heads to the unwanted knowledge that something they are looking at is hungry, lonely, sad, destitute and dying.
That something is the product of neglect; of poor planning; of irresponsible ownership; of uncaring and inconsiderate people. These people are pet owners who allow their animals to stray without the benefit of having them spayed or neutered, further populating the already enormous problem of unwanted dogs and cats who's only crime was being born into a world that doesn't want them and can't afford to help them.
During the third annual Spay and Neuter Week, March 17-21, Atmore Animal Hospital and Lee Vet Clinic will participate in a program designed to help those in financial need do the responsible thing and have their pets spayed and neutered.
The program is sponsored by The Escambia County Humane Society and Spayd With Heart, who are determined to do something to help solve the cruel circumstance of having to put to death animals who should have never been born.
The program offers 10 percent off the regular price of having the procedure performed and the first 15 people to call in at each clinic for an appointment to have the procedure performed will also receive an extra $10 off the cost.
"Awareness of the importance of spaying and neutering has increased some. Spay and neuter week has helped and Mattie's Fund has helped," said Atmore Veterinarian Tommy Moore, co-owner of Atmore Animal Hospital.
Mattie's Fund was established by a group in California for the purpose of providing financial assistance to those who need help with the costs of having their dogs or cats spayed or neutered.
"The Alabama Veterinarian Association was the first to put together a program to benefit those who need help. To qualify for the program, participants need to be currently enrolled in Medicaid and possess a valid Alabama driver's license," Moore said.
The costs for those who qualify are $20 for dogs and $10 for cats for either the spay or neuter procedure. The remaining balance is paid by Mattie's Fund.
Each household qualifying for the program can have the procedures performed on up to six animals. Last year was the first time the program has been implemented in Alabama.
"There are not enough homes for all of them," Moore said while speaking of the many homeless dogs he sees in the area and those he takes in to euphanize.
"The answer is responsible ownership. Too many are put to sleep, but even one is too many. If you're not going to breed your animal then all kinds of hormone imbalances can occur if you don't have the procedure performed.
"Urinary diseases, mammary tumors, the unwanted problem of male dogs hanging around are all things that can be avoided. Males who haven't been neutered can develop prostate cancer and testicular cancer," Moore said.
Two cats who mate can, over the course of just four years, produce upwards to 20,000 offspring. Dog pairs can produce more than 65,000 in that same time period, according to information from The Fund for Animals.
Despite popular misconception, having the procedure performed on your pet will not have any bad side effects. In fact, the dog or cat will actually enjoy a healthier life.
The piece of mind in having your animal spayed or neutered can have last repercussions outside of just your home. The cost involved with having to maintain an animal service to deal with unwanted pets costs each municipality money. That money could instead go to more lasting endeavors.
The nuisance and undesired view of dead carcasses on the road could force cities to allot money for cleanup and disposal. "It also helps with the problem of them roaming the streets and yards," Moore said.

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