Jennifer Mieuli Jameson, founder of Loup Garou, a San Francisco group that rescues black and dark-colored companion animals, went to law school, so she understands that there are always two (and usually more) sides to a story. Jameson respects the validity of the debate over early spay/neuter. And there have been rare cases when she has adopted out an unaltered animal who was too small or weak to undergo spay/neuter– though she retained legal ownership until proof of surgery was provided. But when it comes to the hard work she does day in and day out, driving all over northern California to pull at-risk animals out of shelters with little foot traffic and dim prospects of adoption, Jameson says there is no room for nuance.
“I’m a rescuer, so I’m not objective,” she says honestly. “The main thing in our lives is always going to be population control. A dog that’s spayed early may have a problem or two down the line, but that is a dog that’s not going to have puppies, and that is what we as rescuers are charged with. For good or bad, right or wrong, I’m okay with that.”
And so are many other people who work or volunteer in shelters or rescue groups, or who are committed to adopting only dogs from rescue; while there might be health risks associated with early spay/neuter, they are unlikely to abandon any helpful strategy in curbing overpopulation.
Kristen Head of Westville, New Jersey, adopted her collie/shepherd-mix from a shelter when he was three months old and already neutered. Delaying spay/neuter “is some-thing that I definitely have read and thought about, but with Kobe there was no option, because the shelter wouldn’t adopt any dog who wasn’t altered,” she says. “I would prefer the option of having the spay/neuter conversation with my vet before
I did it, but I definitely would always rescue” – even if it meant not having the option of delaying or foregoing sterilization surgery.