PAWS Humane urges owners to have pets spayed/neutered

Mike Haskey/mhaskey@ledger-enquirer.comAshley Colclough, left, and Katie Jaramillo, both veterinary technicians at PAWS Humane, spend time with Lavender, one of the shelter dogs at the facility.
Mike Haskey/mhaskey@ledger-enquirer.comAshley Colclough, left, and Katie Jaramillo, both veterinary technicians at PAWS Humane, spend time with Lavender, one of the shelter dogs at the facility. mhaskey@ledger-enquirer.com

Leanne Smith hopes people are catching on about the importance of having their cats and dogs spayed or neutered.

"It really is what is best for the animals and the community," said Smith, the manager of the spay/neuter clinic at Paws Humane, a nonprofit animal shelter on Milgen Road.

Spaying is the removing of the ovaries and uterus of the female animal, and neutering is the removal of the testicles of a male animal. Both halt the ability to reproduce.

As of July 31, the clinic had performed 4,374 such surgeries this year, an increase of 8 percent over the same time frame last year. Smith said the number of dogs and cats done is about even.

This number was done despite PAWS being short one veterinarian for more than two months.

Dr. Roberta Wrighten has just joined the staff to work with lead veterinarian Dr. Brendan Bergquist, the director of shelter medicine and wellness.

Bobbi Yeo, the CEO of PAWS, said a third veterinarian is being sought so two can donate their time completely to the spay/neuter clinic while the other concentrates on the wellness clinic providing services such as vaccinations, microchipping, flea control and deworming.

She said PAWS hopes to be able to go from doing some 30 spay/neuter surgeries per day to more than 60.

PAWS has done more than 30,000 since 2010.

The spay/neuter clinic performs the surgeries for private pets and animals at PAWS, as well as those from other shelters, such as Animal Ark Rescue and Columbus Purrs N Paws.

The procedures reduce the number of stray cats and dogs which can get into garbage cans, scare people, cause car accidents and damage property.

"Cats adjust pretty well, but many of the dogs just starve to death. The dogs just break my heart," Yeo said.

She said the local problem with strays is "huge," but the numbers are dropping.

Yeo said Columbus Animal Control picked up 7,755 strays in 2013 and 7,453 last year. She said at the current rate, that number may be less than 6,000 this year.

"That would be great," Yeo said.

"The most important reason to spay/neuter would be to control the unwanted pet population and reducing the amount of animals that ultimately end up in the shelter systems," Bergquist said.

"Some of the major health benefits of spaying or neutering would be that by spaying females prior to their first heat cycle can drastically reduce their chances of mammary cancer later in life. It also prevents the chances of developing life-threatening uterine infections. By neutering males, it eliminates the chances of developing enlargement of the prostate as they age."

Yeo said every animal that is adopted from the shelter has been spayed or neutered.

She said that having affordable spaying and neutering nationwide is reducing the number of unwanted animals which are euthanized.

Some people avoid having their dog spayed or neutered because of the belief it will make their pet fat.

That is not true says the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The organization says a person's pet will remain fit and trim as long as the owner continues to provide exercise and monitor food intake.

The ASPCA adds that charges for the surgery is a lot less than the cost of having and caring for a litter or for treating a serious illness.

At PAWS, the spay/neuter cost is $65.

Some pet owners avoid the surgery because of fear their animal will be harmed.

Smith said complications can happen during any surgery but are rare and the PAWS staff monitors each animal closely.

There might be some discomfort for the animal following a procedure, but Smith said pain and anti-inflammatory medications keep the pet out of pain.

"You just need to keep the pet calm and away from any rough play for about a week. Everything will be fine," she said.