Whole Dog Journal's Blog May 18, 2016

Why I Am Not Against Spay/Neuter

Posted at 03:33PM - Comments: (45)

On April 1, I was at the shelter, dealing with some paperwork aftermath of a bat encounter with my cat, when one of the front desk people asked me, “Are you going to take the puppies we got yesterday?” Keep in mind, the last of the nine cattle dog/pit-mix puppies I had fostered from about three weeks of age to 12 weeks had just gotten adopted. So I was like, “Naw, I think I’m going to take a little break.” But then of course I asked, “What kind are they?”

So I went to look at them, back in the isolation section of the shelter. It’s such a misnomer. It’s the most crowded, loud, stinky part of the shelter, because it’s where all the dogs from the unincorporated areas in my county are initially held when they are picked up as stray, or brought in as purported stray, or surrendered by their owners. Also held here are dogs from my town in identical situations, and dogs from two outlying Native American reservations. If they go some days (sometimes weeks) without being claimed, and they are judged as adoptable, and they have recovered from the inevitable kennel cough that is always present at the facility, in waxing and waning amounts, the lucky ones get moved into a second part of the building, the adoption kennels.

One look and of course I said I’d take the puppies: seven pups, about four weeks of age, that looked like German Shepherd/hound mixes, with maybe an Akita thrown in for good measure. Two had fluffy coats – a disaster in a shelter pen, where dogs and especially puppies are going to be wet for a good part of every day; there is no way to keep a crowded concrete kennel clean without hoses, and with seven pups in one pen, a certain amount of walking through each other’s poop and pee is expected.

We had some ups and downs. For the first week, the pups were really missing their mom, and didn’t want to eat anything I had to offer, and I offered them EVERYTHING: puppy formula of course, but also various types of canned food, soaked dry food, rehydrated dehydrated food, and tons of things from the fridge. My sister roasted a chicken and brought broth, and then rice she made with the broth, and the chicken itself. It took a while, and a lot of incredulous looks from my crew of dogs, who enjoyed a lot of rejected puppy food, but eventually they all started eating, and finally gaining weight, strength, and health. And they went back to the shelter, and were altered. Five were adopted within days – two to two different friends of a person who adopted one of my six foster pups from LAST summer!! – but I held two back from shelter placement, hoping to find homes for them with someone I knew personally.

I fell in love with these two, and had prospective homes for them: one with a friend who has a four-year-old daughter, and one with my trainer friend Sarah Richardson, who has an excellent training business (The Canine Connection) in the next town over from me.

As it turned out, neither home worked out, and both puppies found perfect homes anyway. My friend’s daughter, though she talks a lot about dogs, seemed indifferent to both the puppies and to my own friendly dogs. She meowed a lot, though; Dad, I think she’s trying to tell you something! And Sarah decided that now is not the time for a puppy.  This past year, she’s lost two of her senior dogs, but felt an addition to her pack now is not right. Instead, she endorsed the puppies on her Facebook page, and within days, had found them both really amazing, perfect homes with former clients.

But her photos and discussion of the pups initiated one comment that jolted me – just as it has jolted me every time I’ve mentioned in this blog the pups that I’ve been fostering, pretty much nonstop since November. When I’ve discussed raising the pups until they are big enough and strong enough to return to the shelter for spay/neuter surgery, so they can be adopted, someone ALWAYS says, “What a shame they have to be altered so early, it’s so bad for their health.” Sometimes, the person adds, “Shame on WDJ for promoting this.”

Occasionally, I explain that this page is a blog post: a place where I can have personal discussions and ask for personal reflections and opinions from other dog owners. It’s not a Whole Dog Journal “article,” which would offer facts about practices like the pros and cons of pediatric spay/neuter. We did that article in the magazine in 2013: "Risks and Benefits to Spaying/Neutering Your Dog".

My personal opinion is this: Yes, it’s absolutely healthier for any individual animal to be intact, not altered, particularly at such an early age. It’s not ideal. But neither is the fact that my shelter ends up with so many damn puppies in the first place. But state law (here in California, anyway) requires that all dogs and cats that are adopted from a shelter are altered. While some rescues might have the means to foster puppies until they are far older, my shelter is not. I am sort of it for my shelter’s ability to handle large litters of puppies (without losing any) at all.

Great Dane Mom

A starved Great Dane mom of 11!

People who have lost a dog to a certain cancer, or lost time/money/health to certain conditions that may be related to early spay/neuter, such as joint disease, or a CCL rupture, may well feel strongly that dogs not be altered early, or perhaps not at all. I sympathize with that stance. But as long as the incoming tide of puppies and dogs into my shelter is bigger and more relentless than the outgoing tide of adopted dogs and puppies, I will always adopt altered animals, and encourage anyone who isn’t in the market for a purpose-bred dog from a responsible breeder to save an altered shelter dog, instead.

Literally the day after my last foster pup’s adoption was finalized, I had a text from my shelter’s veterinary technician. “We have a starved Great Dane mom and her 11 puppies. Can you help?”

Of course. But dammit.

Here are 9 of the 11 pups.

Comments (45)

WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!! Spaying and neutering is not necessary as you are removing around 1/3 of the dog's endocrine system. Sterilization is the appropriate procedure. The hormones are there for a reason. You are forcing a dog to go through menopause. I have always adopted dogs so they always came spayed and neutered, but the proper thing to do is to allow the homones and sterilize. I am so disappointed in Whole Dog Journal. Because I like most of your stuff, I have your periodical on essentiallydogs.com, but I am really disappointed in this article.

Posted by: essentiallydogs | May 23, 2016 8:07 PM    Report this comment

So many opinions pro and con, but in reality one's philosophy may not apply in all situations. Kudos to Nancy for having the biggest heart on the planet. Fostering and placing shelter pups is both heartbreaking and rewarding work. Either way difficult physically, mentally, and emotionally (not to mention financially) so don't criticize unless you've "paid your dues."

Posted by: Fran the groomer | May 23, 2016 2:30 PM    Report this comment

crocker57401 - there are many Noah Websters. What state are you located in, and if you are a breeder, tell me of what breed.

Posted by: EllenD'Trainer | May 23, 2016 8:46 AM    Report this comment

Raw goat milk made into keifer is fantastic for pups...adults, too. It's made without using any heat and retains all those super enzymes.
I'm no longer a fan of desexing, vaccines and all the rest of the horrible conventional vet care methods. None are good for the animals and that's what I believe is most important. My heart breaks for the shelter animals but I'll not own another one - far too many problems from all damage done to them from the methods I listed. My choice is natural rearing breeders who raise the healthiest animals on earth. God bless these amazing folks.

Posted by: YorkieMom | May 22, 2016 4:26 PM    Report this comment

I understand and support neutering shelter animals -- in fact, any domesticated pet that is allowed to run free should be neutered. That said, I won't neuter my own Portuguese water dog. He lives at home with me and when he leaves the home he is either on a leash or -- if off leash -- is with me in an exercise area where there are no other dogs around. I lost one neutered 8-year-old dog to hemangiosarcoma two years after the surgery. If I lose another one he will cross the Rainbow Bridge bringing all his parts with him.

Posted by: jeremiahjj | May 22, 2016 3:13 PM    Report this comment

I hate the idea of early neutering, but there are way too many irresponsible parents of both 2 and 4 legged "kids" out there, way too many unwanted offspring mistreated and abused. We CAN do something about the 4 legged "kids, and sadly, I have to agree that in many instances early neutering is the only way. I have seen a dog chained up in her yard and impregnated by a neighbor's loose dog, the chained female was owned by someone who I always thought was very responsible. So much for assumptions. Yes, there were puppies, yes we took one.
I wish I could've brought my current dog home from the SPCA un-neutered, but they also have a rule, no neutering-no adoption.

Posted by: 3grrrs | May 22, 2016 2:36 PM    Report this comment

For almost 20 years, I've fostered puppies (from 8 to 16 weeks of age). They are neutered or spayed before adoptions are finalized--all under 4 mos. With the adopters I've stayed in touch with, there have been no problems. There may be genetics involved, but I believe S/N BEFORE adopting is key and worth the risks, if indeed any problems are actually proven to be a direct result of an early S/N. When an intact dog is adopted out, and the S/N voucher or "trust me" fails, it's too late. We're all set back. Back in the '60's when waiting to S/N was the practice, our dogs came down with the same health conditions, so it seems more research is needed before early S/N can be blamed for later negative health issues.

Posted by: Dane Lover 2 | May 22, 2016 12:49 PM    Report this comment

This is a conversation, we as a supposedly intelligent species, need to have. I too have seen both sides of this. WE are the voice for these amazing creations. They didn't ask for all the injustices done to them (abuse, neglect, well meaning vaccines, flea treatments, non regulated food production standards, GMO's, and the list goes on). Bottom line, too many suffer and die needlessly. We can all make a difference, if only one at a time. In return, we get forgiveness, unconditional love and life lessons no "human" could ever teach us! These animals are one of God's most amazing creations. We could learn so much from them, if we just opend our eyes and hearts. There are just so many different circumstances, it's not a "one answer fits all" question. Let's just keep having this conversation, so maybe someday, we won't have to talk about it.

Posted by: animallover | May 21, 2016 4:11 PM    Report this comment

My German Shepherd was adopted from a shelter and neutred at 3.5 months old. He had elbow surgery at 11 months old and tore his CCL at 6 years old. Both I attribute to the early neuter. That said my RIP GSD, a black female was spayed at 5 months old as she lived with her intact Dad. She was very healthy until the end of her life when she got a hemgiosarcoma tumor on her spleen. She did survive the surgery but only lasted another 3 months. She lived to 13 years old though so I had her from 6 weeks old until 13 years and 2.5 months.

Posted by: 376NYC | May 20, 2016 3:24 PM    Report this comment

My German Shepherd I got from a shelter and he was neutered at 3.5 months old. He had elbow surgery at 11 months old and tore his ACL at 6 years old. I attribute this all to the early neuter. But what to do, when you adopt from a shelter? Interestingly, when I contacted the vet that did the neuter, he said they wouldn't neuter a dog that young. So likely the shelter said he was 5 months old, as they were not certain of his age. My RIP GSD was a black female and I spayed her at 5 months old as she lived with her intact Dad. She had no health issues until the end of her life when she had a hemagiosarcoma tumor on her spleen. That said she lived to 13 years old.

Posted by: 376NYC | May 20, 2016 3:02 PM    Report this comment

We have had dogs for years and I had never bothered to read books or articles about dogs. I guess I am lucky they survived. We got two lab puppies and I started reading about "dos and don'ts" and depending who you are reading the opinions differ. Do "this", don't do "this". If you do this your dog will die of "this" if you don't your do will die of "this". This leaves me in a quandary. The breeder we got the dogs from told us that males should not be neutered until after their first birthday. This was only because they will not reach their full potential of growth. Same with females but it was to be before their first estrus. I do not see this as a reason for shelter dogs because they are not being rescued to be show dogs. I feel sorry that you are having to justify why these shelter dogs are being spayed and neutered. Some people should just "MYOB"!

Posted by: Phant0000m | May 20, 2016 8:02 AM    Report this comment

GiftofGalway | I dont feel alone anymore on this subject especially on HSUS people do not realize they are a scam as of last report I found over $200 million in foreign bank accounts - taken from good people who send in money to save the same poor dpg pictured for 15 years on tv if yo can please pm me threu face book page Noah Webster

Posted by: crocker57401 | May 20, 2016 5:44 AM    Report this comment

EllenD'Trainer great post if you can please send me a face book link to Noah Webster page

Posted by: crocker57401 | May 20, 2016 5:32 AM    Report this comment

SAGESFOOL Your name fits your comments your comments are that of an uninformed low information type.... research might enlighten you by the way a fronat labotomy on humans calms them like a desexed dog just wait UNTIL you have huge vet bills for a range of autoImmune disorders and cancer - being the genuis you seem iam sure you kept these dogs on testosterone for 2 years after mutilation. If you wanted a walking foot stool why didnt you just go to toys R Us and get a stuffed Goofy

Posted by: crocker57401 | May 20, 2016 5:23 AM    Report this comment

I want to add the information: there is an alternative procedure, more expensive so not useful to shelters, but it is available for the caring owner. To find out more, go to Facebook and join ovarian sparing soay and vasectomy info group, or search information on the net.

Posted by: Altan | May 19, 2016 10:45 PM    Report this comment

First, I am not in favor of spaying/neutering, period. I also find it offensive to give it gentle terms like desexing, when it is actually castration or a hysterectomy performed on what in human terms, at the same age, would be a baby, even an infant. But my comment is one not mentioned here. You will always hear from people who have had experiences at crowded shelters, because they do exist, but what is not mentioned is that in many areas of the country there is a shortage of adoptable dogs, and we now have a brand new industry, retail rescue, to transport dogs from one shelter to another, one state to another, one side of the country to the other. All of it completely unregulated, by the way. Individual shelters may have too many dogs, but we need to look at the big picture. It is a myth that we have a pet overpopulation problem in the U.S. On the other hand, this country allows the importation of hundreds of thousands of dogs a year from China, Rumania, India and many third world countries. These are stray street dogs, often with diseases unseen in this country and sometimes with rabies. Even rescues have a booming business bringing in dogs from foreign countries. Ask the Golden Retriever Club in L.A. about its rescues from Taiwan. Thousands of underage, unhealthy puppies are also smuggled in from Mexico every year. The number of animals put to death in shelters on a yearly basis has dropped by 70% since the 70s, and is now between three and four million, which is less than 2% of the entire pet population and includes unadoptable animals (aggressive, terminally ill, etc.) and feral cats. There is no reason to sexually mutilate our pets and many reasons not to. I don't want to hear anecdotal stories about individual shelters. I want the truth. Don't listen to sound bites, do your own research. And NEVER listen to the garbage spewed out by HSUS and other wealthy animal rights groups. Their agenda is political and it's not about helping animals, it's about getting rid of them. No other country in the world routinely sterilizes its pets, and no other animal in the world is sterilized for human convenience.

Posted by: GiftofGalway | May 19, 2016 4:35 PM    Report this comment

I wish we could spay and neuter a lot of the people. Some folks don't care about causing suffering, as long as they are satisfying their own personal whims at the moment.

I agree with M.Leary about all the poisoning (denatured food, heart worm pills, vaccinations) except that my particular subject of expertise is vaccines, and my position, after 35 years of intensive research and 2 books, is that all vaccinations are ALL poison, ALL the time. That includes puppy and kitten shots. If an animal has a stronger immune system (proper nutrition, purified water, and right environment help with that), then he will be able to better able to resist disease, or breeze through it, and also fight off the effects of poison vaccines. An animal with a weak immune system will not have as much to fight with, and will be the first to succumb to the poison vaccines. Under no circumstances are vaccinations beneficial, in my opinion. On the other hand, not many people are aware that Vitamin C is virucidal. Dogs and cats manufacture their own Vitamin C, but in this polluted world, it is a good thing to supplement them with a product that is formulated for cats and dogs (the kind that people consume is usually too acidic for our four-legged friends).

Posted by: Suki49 | May 19, 2016 2:23 PM    Report this comment

People need to stop complaining about the early dangers of spay/neuter and worry about their dogs' diets, the poisons that we put on and in them without any consideration of the damage that we know that they cause. A neuro toxin to kill a flea? A heartworm preventative that is NOT a preventative but a monthly "cure" for a disease that your dog has so little chance of every contracting (if in a healthy, natural state)? How about our total lack of concern for the random vaccinating of our pets? Even with 30 year old studies that show that many vaccinations last the life time of a dog.... Only after feeding our dogs a species appropriate diet, stopping the use of chemicals put in and on our dogs and in their environment, curtailing the rampant use of steroids and antibiotics, will we even be able to honestly evaluate the damage caused by early spay/neuter.

Posted by: Mleary | May 19, 2016 1:18 PM    Report this comment

I can see both sides of the picture, but have to weigh in on the neutering prior to adoption side. I know the local shelter tried giving a "voucher" for a "free" neutering from select area vets after the animal was taken home, but too many of the adopters didn't redeem them, so the animals remained intact. They now neuter prior to adoption. My previous dog, a rescued foxhound from a local hunt, was an emergency spay at 16 months; i was given her just after her new-borns died, and she developed pyometria a few weeks later. Spaying came a few hours after that diagnosis.
Dealing with a female in heat is not easy, and dealing with an intact male can have its moments also. IF the owner is willing and able to deal with these situations, and be a responsible owner, then by all means, keep the dog (or cat) intact. BUT, and especially in the rural areas of the country, responsible owners can be few and far between, and shelters can, understandably, not want to add to their future burdens. If you MUST have an intact animal, either do your own rescue, or buy direct from a breeder. Don't forget, some breeders insist on having non-show quality, or otherwise outside of standard, animals neutered.

Posted by: dibbitlamb | May 19, 2016 12:04 PM    Report this comment

I know its probably lots of opinions about spay and neutering,but I do think in some cases its necessary....we own Akitas, we right now have 7 pups of 14 weeks old,we own the parents as well, our Akita had her first litter at 1yrs old, and now this is the second litter, we just got her spayed after these were born, we felt we should let her have at least a litter, but she managed to get in another set on us, but we are in no way upset at the second litter, we have had beautiful pups...I think as a pet owner we all have to make sacrifices to do what is best for our dogs....if not, don't be a pet owner in the first place....or Akita male, is not neutered...and he is a wonderful dog....

Posted by: tanya/Akitalover | May 19, 2016 11:20 AM    Report this comment

i have worked with rescue for 20 years now. i hate that we have to do pediatric s/n, but it is the law and i agree with it as the best way to try to reduce unwanted litters. however, i am also aware of the health risks , so , while i work with rescue i also have always bought my own pups from breeders, have waited til my girls have gone thru two heat cycles before spaying them, and have never neutered my boys, except once at age 8 for medical reasons.

Posted by: kyri's mom | May 19, 2016 11:09 AM    Report this comment

I come down on both sides of this issue. I do not think early neutering (or spay) is a good thing. My dog's bones are obviously overgrown, long and stringy. His chest practically comes to a point. He is worse off for having it done (has already had a skeletal injury at one year), as I suspect many dogs are. The fact remains that early neuter is a necessary evil, the least of two evils if the other one is death or contributing to this crisis again. Anyone who feels shelter and rescue dogs shouldn't be neutered early doesn't have a leg to stand on unless they are fostering large numbers of puppies until they reach the age at which they do believe in neuter/spay.

Posted by: Alice R. | May 19, 2016 10:54 AM    Report this comment

Obviously trusting some pet owners to be responsible with their intact animals is not working. The shelters have no choice but to s/n these puppies. Somehow the cycle of indiscriminate breeding has to stop.

Posted by: NOLAhounds | May 19, 2016 10:53 AM    Report this comment

Tough subject...I agree that there are too many irresponsible owners and too many discarded moms and litters, and plenty of those dogs (and cats) that should be s/n due to their owners' ignorance and lack of compassion. Too bad the shelter cannot depend upon a dedicated staff to follow adopters to ensure that they s/n their animals prior to a specified number of months of age; such as six for most and longer for large/giant breed dogs. I am sure the people who want to volunteer but cannot, especially due to physical challenges, would be more than happy to volunteer under that type of program - following up on adopters from a database in the comfort of their own home.

Or, better yet, incorporate alternative means of sterilization like Ovary Sparing Surgeries, Vasectomies, and Zeuterin. The two surgeries are basically the same cost as traditional, and the Zeuterin is the most cost-effective and least invasive. Where there's a will there's a way. Tampa Bay Humane already does Zeuterin for quite some time.

I am really glad that the author addressed the adverse long-term effect issues of pediatric s/n, and as a canine behavior counselor, I and many others in the trade are seeing behavioral and medical issues directly related to removing a third of the endocrine system and hormones. I usually don't come across people who see that side of it and are only pro s/n at all costs. They believe what most vets say about s/n being the healthiest thing to do for our companion pets. No holistic vet will agree with that.

A little creative thinking and a good Director could bring about massive, beneficial changes if one truly desires to better the shelter environment. Think of all the adopters that will no longer have years of medical bills, meds, heartache, sadness due to early loss to cancer, and how many adopted animals will live longer, healthier lives, and not wind up back at the shelter due to behavioral issues or put to death.

This might also negate the need for tyrannical mandatory spay/neuter laws...very unconstitutional and I certainly do not need to be saved from myself.

Alternative sterilization is the only thing I will accept in most non-medical emergency cases, along with titers and no unnecessary vaccinations, in our rescue that is in its infancy in upstate NY. We are the generation of change.

BTW, an intact male dog does not equal a roaming dog - that is owner ignorance and irresponsibility. Responsible owners have no issue avoiding "accidental" litters and never allow their dogs to roam, nor do they tie a female out like bait for every irresponsibly owned roaming male dog to encounter and impregnate. That is a poor excuse to neuter male dogs and spay females, as well as aggression excuses and a host of other nonsense.

Posted by: EllenD'Trainer | May 19, 2016 10:52 AM    Report this comment

I agree with you. I recently got an 8-week old purebred standard male poodle pup, intact. At 6 months he was required by the breeder to be fixed. Prior to neutering, I was a little disappointed that he was somewhat aloof and standoffish, where as my two 7-year old male standards, are very friendly and playful. After he also became a "nut-less wonder", his entire demeanor changed: he became very cuddly, very affectionate, lovable and attached to the "pack". All of them are neutered, none of them are aggressive, and have a very strong "mothering instinct" for each other. They have never so much growled at each other, even when they eat out of the same bowl.

If you want to have a very affectionate male dog that isn't aggressive and stays at home, then neutering is the only way to go. I don't know about female dogs in this regard.

Besides there are too many feet and paws on the planet that are not properly loved and cared for.

Posted by: sagesfool | May 19, 2016 10:41 AM    Report this comment

Max T. May ditto - right on

Posted by: crocker57401 | May 19, 2016 10:30 AM    Report this comment

Couldn't agree with you more! Until all people become more responsible with their animals, spaying and neutering are necessary--despite any risks. I work in an open admission shelter (the only one in our county), and we never have enough foster homes for the seemingly endless stream of dogs, cats, puppies, kittens, and abused and neglected animals coming though our doors. Until euthanasia rates decrease as a result of responsible animal guardianship, spaying and neutering is the only way to save lives. Thank you for your blog!

Posted by: Rima77 | May 19, 2016 10:28 AM    Report this comment

There seems to be a significant number who are unaware of the cathistrophic affets of desexing and the inhumane treatment of dogs that has now been proven by a variety of credible long term studys. in the present state of Vet. procedures therer is NEVER a reason to desex a dog.... vasectomy and alternative non surgical stertilization is used by vets and shelters who do not have their head stuck where the sun doesnt shine.

Posted by: crocker57401 | May 19, 2016 10:28 AM    Report this comment

Thank you for respectfully acknowledging the good work of responsible breeders, and the right every person has to purchase a dog from a breeder. The large number of unwanted animals is, in my mind, a sad but separate issue. Now that we know that early de-sexing has it's drawbacks, this is one more legitimate factor for a potential owner to consider when deciding where to acquire their next dog.

Posted by: Pat Engel, CPDT-KA | May 19, 2016 10:16 AM    Report this comment

I have an English Bulldog, a female and she will be 4 years old on Oct 14 2016. I helped birth them in my Sons bedroom. They were well taken care of by me, my son, and wife in my home, and very kept clean from the get go. I have the 10 year old Momma too, now. She was given to my Son and she saved his life from drugs and alcohol back in about 2009. However after years of improvement, he died Sept 23, 2014 from Esophageal Cancer. My Gemma has a rear left trick knee the Vet said. It comes and goes occasionally especially when she gets up from a long rest on carpet or her bed... I give her Glucosamine,MSM and Chondroitin which I take for arthritis. I told the Vet about my problem and how much it helped, and he said to give it to her and Miss Piggy too. It's a Pet Naturals dog brand. She is with me in my home constantly. We walk everyday. We have a fenced yard and not any stray dogs in own town. My wife wants her fixed and I see no reason to. It was awfully hard to mate her Mom. She would sit down on the male. We tried 3 times to the complete exhaustion of the male, who could not reach her. Miss Piggy is tall he was short... We had to have the Vet perform the service. I can't even begin to imagine how my Gemma would mate. There's no way while walking that I get near another dog, because Miss Piggy and Gemma get into fight mode. I have to hang on to them and shoo the other dog away with my walking stick. I just don't see it possible for her to get impregnated unless it happens at Petsmart while getting groomed. Please comment about what you think! You may email me if you'd like at: brickboo2at yahoo.com. Just put re: "Gemma," please in the Subject line. Thank you kindly for your suggestions.

Posted by: Brickboo | May 19, 2016 10:14 AM    Report this comment

I live in the country and see all the homeless animals. Maybe spaying and nuturing isn't ideal but it's better that they get 9 to 10 good years than killed at 1 year. I now have 3 dogs because someone threw a baby, 3 months old, I. The creek. Yes all are altered but I didn't have the baby done until vet said and my others were altered when I got from human society. It's nice to be judgemental but in the real world of so many unwanted dogs and cats reality rules.

Posted by: Flossie Cox | May 19, 2016 10:14 AM    Report this comment

First I have to say I am totally for spaying and neutering. But the Chow I adopted 3 years ago had not fully developed her urethra and could not pee properly. I don't understand how the vet who did the surgery did not see that and hold off on the surgery so she could finish growing. We spent a ton on her for reconstructive surgery.

Posted by: qirfa | May 19, 2016 10:04 AM    Report this comment

This is flawed thinking. If we could go back in time and neuter the dogs whose pups ended up in the shelter, that would be good. But what the writer is doing is approving of too-early neutering which will cause significant risk of serious joint problems and other problems clearly associated with too-early neutering. He is doing this because of concern that there are excessive numbers of dogs being born. But the solution is far worse than the problem. Couldn't we find a way to ensure neutering at an appropriate age? How about a refundable deposit at the time of puppy-adoption which would be refunded after appropriate-age neutering? Back when early neutering was first done, we didn't know the problems it would cause. Now we know but continue to maim the dogs. We can find ways to deal with this that don't involve condemning puppies to the serious problems caused by too-early neutering. Why not find a real solution instead of defending too-early neutering?

Posted by: Max T | May 19, 2016 9:50 AM    Report this comment

I agree that we must do more to insure pet over population does not result in so many unfortunate animals in the pounds. I have rescued and fostered several times including two sets of puppies and starving Mama. With all the now known health issues of early neutering and spaying I too am wondering why vasectomies, hysterectomies are not offered as alternatives.

Posted by: Rosiedog | May 19, 2016 9:27 AM    Report this comment

I'm a breeder of purebred dogs. When I first learned about pediatric desexing operations, I found a vet who would do them and every puppy I produced that I did not feel should be bred was sold already desexed. The buyers were quite appreciative. One of those early pups died of prostate cancer at the age of 8, which is quite early in the family of dogs I deal with (usual age reached is 12 - 14).

I continued doing it until I learned that there are significant health risks of doing that surgery, more for males than females.

If someone has the time and resources to search out a good breeder and acquire a well bred puppy and is responsible enough to keep a dog from roaming, then that person should make the decision about desexing after consulting with a knowledgeable vet.

Shelters that are trying to prevent unwanted puppies from intact dogs they adopt out do not have too many options. The number of people required to do the sort of background checks and reference checks to insure that people taking puppies will do the right things with them is generally beyond the resources of the average shelter. There is a risk to pediatric desexing, but there is also a risk of death from poisoning, motor vehicle collision, dog/coyote/wolf/whatever interaction, and whatever other trouble a roaming hormone motivated dog can encounter. There are more risks to females in remaining intact - they are more likely to get mammary tumors, uterine tumors and there are other health issues as well. Most of the research I've read on the subject indicates it's a judgment call whether to desex females and that males are better off intact. All of that presupposes a dog winds up in the home of people knowledgeable and responsible enough to keep an intact dog current on vet visits and aware enough to observe slight abnormalities that could indicate serious health issues.

Canines coming out of a shelter environment are most likely better off in many ways if they are desexed before adoption.

Posted by: Marguerite | May 19, 2016 9:27 AM    Report this comment

You go, girl. Let those who object spend some time in the euthanasia room at a shelter. Then see what they have to say about spay/neuter.

Posted by: PPaws | May 19, 2016 9:23 AM    Report this comment

Bless you for caring for these dogs!

Posted by: kmax | May 19, 2016 9:20 AM    Report this comment

I just wanted to say thank you for all you do for the animals. You are a blessing!

Posted by: JudyN | May 19, 2016 9:15 AM    Report this comment

I absolutely agree that there is a pet overpopulation problem, and that all shelter dogs should be sterilized. Vasectomy and hysterectomy can both be performed on very young pups, and the animals retain their normal hormones for growth and development. Please see the Parsemus Foundation for more details, or the files section of the Ovary Sparing Spay and Vasectomy Facebook page.

Posted by: Sara | May 19, 2016 9:12 AM    Report this comment

Hey Nancy. Always keep some powdered goat's milk on hand.....especially for those that have been starved. Super gentle on the GI tract and they all need the Vitamin D!

The other Nancy

Posted by: Appyrs2me | May 19, 2016 9:12 AM    Report this comment

My response to this takes little time to think about: I'm on the board of a local shelter, and I agree that since we can't guarantee what adopters do with their adoptees after they leave the shelter, there is no choice but to spay/neuter early. My guess, though, is that almost every reader of your article already knows this, since they are responsible enough to educate themselves in the best care for animals. On the other hand, I have a young Golden Retriever, and recent research from reputable universities has motivated me to NEVER have her spayed, as one of the best predictors of a long, healthy life. But I know I'll likely get resistance from my vet, rescue groups, friends, etc. Your message is an important one. I wish, however, there was a way to educate those who don't read Whole Dog Journal articles, who choose not to spay/neuter for less sound reasons, beyond articles like this that are "preaching to the choir."

Posted by: sandersc | May 19, 2016 9:07 AM    Report this comment

I also live in a rural area and I am all for spaying and neutering of dogs and cats. There are so many irresponsible people who just let their animals run. Our rescued 6 year old Poodle who came to us last year had puppies when she was only six months old. She only weighs 7.5 pounds now! However, I think her previous owners never mistreated her because she is a fabulous dog. They raised the pups along with her and the daddy. I'm not totally sure about why they were all surrendered. (I just know that they had to be good people based on our girl.. And they contacted a rescue group who fosters.)

Posted by: KimberlyO | May 19, 2016 8:59 AM    Report this comment

We adopted a 2 month old Beagle pup. I asked when we would need to schedule him for the surgery, and he had already been altered. I know it can cause issues as they do grow older. Thankfully, we didn't see any problems other than the fact that he never really grew out of puppyhood.
I do not like having puppies fixed at such a young age. However, in some cases, I know it can't be avoided.

Posted by: joandmar | May 19, 2016 8:56 AM    Report this comment

Couldn't agree more. When we first adopted our Brody, he was very young and my vet was concerned he had been fixed so young ( less than three months) but having spent the last three years helping with rescue and TNR activities, I don't share the concerns any longer. There are too many animals breeding and something has to be done.

The day we have a canine/feline shortage? Then we can start discussing age limits for S/N.

Posted by: eithnenicole | May 19, 2016 8:51 AM    Report this comment

I agree with you 100% !! We live in a rural area and are known as the "rescuers". Irresponsible owners are always dumping their loyal companions in our area. All but one of ours are rescues. I believe for every altering... there's at least half dozen critters saved from a horrible life.

Posted by: parajaxmom | May 19, 2016 8:33 AM    Report this comment

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