By Jim Tedford, Director of Animal Welfare Initiatives and Alliances
I’ll bet most of you didn’t know that we’re rapidly approaching one of the most important days of the year when it comes to the health and well-being of dogs, cats and other companion animals. In terms of saving lives, the last Tuesday in February is like Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and the 4th of July all combined into one very special day. I refer, of course, to World Spay Day which, this year, we celebrate on February 25, 2014.
This annual event, established by The Humane Society of the United States and other national/international animal protection organizations, brings attention to the importance of spaying or neutering our pets as a means of saving lives. While major progress has been made in reducing pet overpopulation, there are still many places in the United States and beyond dealing with far more unwanted dogs, cats, puppies and kittens than can possibly be placed into loving permanent homes.
It is hard to imagine in this day and age, when we have such a clear understanding of how to combat pet overpopulation, that hundreds of thousands of animals continue to lose their lives in shelters and on the streets. An estimated 6-8 million homeless pets enter shelters in the US every year. Over 2.5 million are euthanized simply for lack of available homes. Most of them are healthy, well-adjusted pets who just needed a second chance – a second chance that did not exist. And, most of these discarded pets were not the result of strays or street-dogs, most were the result of irresponsible pet owners who allowed their pets’ breeding to go unchecked.
World Spay Day provides an opportunity to remember those animals who have fallen through the cracks of society, and to recommit the energy needed to finally put an end to the unwanted birth and needless death of our closest animal companions. If dogs (and cats) really are our “best friends," it is time for society to prove it. A simple surgical procedure keeps our pets happier and healthier, and brings the cycle of pet overpopulation to an end once and for all.
Get in touch with your humane society, SPCA or animal care and control agency to find out what events have been planned for your community and find out how you can best help in the effort. Worldwide events include low-cost (or free) spay/neuter clinics, preventative veterinary services for low-income families, fundraising events to benefit spay/neuter clinics or programs and educational campaigns to bring awareness to communities of the importance of responsible pet ownership including surgical sterilization.
If you can’t find an event in your area, start one! Recruit your friends, family and neighbors to participate. For more information, visit https://worldspayday.org/. Benjamin Franklin coined the phrase, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Nowhere in modern society is that statement more applicable than in reference to pet overpopulation. Especially when one considers that a simple surgical procedure is the “ounce of prevention”. This is a far better option than the tragic loss of life still used as the “pound of cure” in much of the world.