Make a dent in pet overpopulation: Spay or neuter your pet

Often, I see people camped out by the side of a busy road with a tent or sun umbrella, a big box or wire pen, and a sign advertising puppies for sale. I wonder, why don’t they spay their pets?

Cindy Evers, founder of Planned Pethood in Zephyrhills, believes that the biggest obstacle for many loving pet owners is the cost. So, when she was fortunate enough to have time and resources to dedicate to a project she’s always believed in, she established and equipped a clinic dedicated to providing high-quality and affordable sterilization, vaccination, micro-chipping and parasite control services to area pet owners. Planned Pethood opened in mid-February.

Two veterinarians work for Planned Pethood, offering a walk-in vaccination clinic on Wednesdays and surgical services by appointment. Over-the-counter products such as Frontline and Advantage can be purchased daily, except Sundays; prescription products are available with a prescription or on clinic days when a vet is present.

Planned Pethood is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization that accepts donations and is currently privately funded. Low-cost veterinary services are also available through area humane societies and SPCA organizations, but private clinics are rare.

Spaying or neutering your pet is the kindest thing to do for many reasons. The health benefits alone should make it a no-brainer. Females spayed before their first “heat” cycle have virtually no risk of mammary cancer and, obviously no risk of ovarian or uterine cancer, since these organs are removed. Spaying later reduces cancer risks but less dramatically. Neutering males eliminates the risk of testicular cancer, and neutered animals have less desire to roam and are less likely to get into fights. Neutered and spayed animals generally live longer and are healthier than intact animals.

Evers said that occasionally people object to spaying and neutering because they believe it will change their pet’s personality. But research has shown that the effects of spaying or neutering pets are nearly always positive. Hormonally linked behaviors such as territorial urine marking in males and “yowling” to attract mates, a common behavior among cats in heat, are reduced or eliminated. Neutered males often become less aggressive, especially toward other male animals. Sterilized animals are less influenced by their hormones, so many pet professionals believe that they are easier to train and might be more attentive to and affectionate with their human companions. Some neutered and spayed animals do still engage in sexual play —without the risk of unwanted litters.

But the obvious reason — or several million obvious reasons — to spay and neuter pets is to prevent litters of puppies and kittens. Millions of unwanted dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters each year. Reducing the number who are born is an obvious way to reduce those numbers. Contact Planned Pethood at 813-779-7000 or visit their website.

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