Spay those bitches

by Lisa Bailey

The Animal Control Centre euthanised 23,458 dogs between 2003 and 2012.

mistreatedpetAlthough this statistic might startle some persons, Animal Control Officer, Curtis Thompson, explained that the number was likely to be higher since other humane societies, such as the RSPCA, and practising veterinarians on the island also “put down dogs”.

Thompson pointed out that through the promotion of Spay Day Barbados, being recognised for the first time locally on Tuesday, February 26, the centre was seeking to encourage Barbadian dog owners to either spay or neuter their pets to reduce the number of unwanted dogs.

“This is unnecessary killing as a result of the unnecessary breeding of dogs… The centre is saddled with ‘putting down dogs’ – healthy dogs, dogs that are given up because of boredom [of owners], because of an owner’s inability to look after the dog, and dogs who are sick.

“It is important that we emphasise this aspect. In 2002 we were euthanising 4,000 to 5,000 dogs a year. In 2003, we were able to bring the number down to 3,695. By 2004, the figure was 2,909, in 2005, 2,788, and in 2006 there was a slight increase taking the tally to 2,841. In 2007, we killed 2,715 dogs, in 2008, 2,517; 2009, 1,853; in 2010, 1,607; in 2011, 1,376 and last year 1,157 dogs were euthanised by the centre,” he revealed.

Neutering, is a surgical procedure performed by a veterinarian to remove an animal’s reproductive organ. The term is often used in reference to male dogs, while spaying is reserved for bitches.

In addition to decreasing the number of canines who can reproduce, the public health official explained that there were other benefits of “fixing” a dog.

“A spayed or neutered pet is typically better behaved, calmer and more affectionate than those that are not ‘fixed’. Male dogs are less likely to mark their territory by urinating or spraying and are less likely to run away in an attempt to find a female.

“Spaying an animal eliminates their heat cycle and the undesirable elements of the cycle such as bleeding, crying and nervous behaviour. Studies also show that it reduces the incidence rate of some of the most common types of cancers found in dogs – breast, uterine, prostate and testicular. Your animal is also likely to live a longer and healthier life as a result,” Thompson stated.

Making the decision to spay or neuter your canine also demonstrates that the owner is responsible since, according to the Officer, if you are “not part of the solution then you are a part of the problem”.

“It would reduce the number of stray animals in the community, which can result in animal bites, animal attacks, car accidents, destruction of property and pollution of the community. Spayed or neutered animals get along better with each other and exhibit less aggression towards animals of the same gender.

“If you are not helping, then you are contributing to the over-population problem of stray dogs in Barbados,” he remarked, noting how difficult it was for even trained professionals, to kill a number of healthy dogs, every week.

“The vast majority of dogs euthanised yearly are medically and behaviourally adoptable. We are determined to bring these numbers down through public education and through initiatives like Spay Day,” Thompson emphasised.

Spaying and neutering services are provided by the humane societies and veterinarians. However, during the period February 25 to March 1, the Animal Control Centre will be the coordinating entity, and persons who are interested in having their dog spayed or neutered at a discounted cost should call the centre, which has generated a list to zone and prioritise requests.

Less than $200 per operation

“During Spay Week, the cost for female dogs will be $170 (VAT Inclusive) and for males it will be $120 (VAT Inclusive). So far, we have 10 clinics on board and they have agreed to extend this service beyond Spay Day so as not to disrupt their normal operations, to give persons a bit more flexibility and to maximise impact,” he said.

The participating clinics are: Animal Care Clinic, Massiah Street, St. John; Central Veterinary Clinic, Lower Estate Complex, St. George; Content Animal Clinic, Content, St. Thomas; Dawn Taylor and Tiffany Boyce; Kingsland Terrace, Christ Church; Eastern Veterinary Clinic, Sunbury, St Philip; The RSPCA, Spring Garden, St. Michael; Total Loving Care Veterinary Clinic, Brittons Hill, St. Michael; Trinity Animal Clinic, Woodbourne, St. Philip; and Vitality Pet Clinic, Collymore Rock, St. Michael.

Roberts Manufacturing Company Limited is also on board with the initiative to provide dog food for participating owners.

The Animal Control Officer reassured dog owners that unlike humans, animals do not have a concept of their sexual identity, adding that “there will be no cause for any type of identity crisis and will not result in the dog mourning the loss of his/her reproductive capabilities.”

He added that dogs could be spayed once they reached six months, but this could best be determined on a case-by-case basis by a vet.

Persons who are interested in having their dog spayed/neutered may contact the centre as soon as possible to be assigned to a vet clinic or humane society as only limited numbers will be accommodated by each clinic during Spay Week.

World Spay Day is an annual campaign of The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International that highlights spaying/neutering as a proven way to save the lives of companion animals, feral cats, and street dogs that might otherwise be put down in a shelter or killed on the street.

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