Editorial: For pets' sake -- and everybody else's as well

It's easy to say people who aren't willing to get their cats and dogs spayed or neutered shouldn't have pets at all. In fact, it's frustratingly easy to say, because it ought to be obvious to everybody.

Yet the numbers, though they seem to be slowly getting better, say the importance of spaying and neutering isn't yet sinking in for some people. Maybe they believe there are negative side effects of spaying and neutering procedures (almost never), or their pets are sufficiently isolated to prevent possible breeding. (How many unplanned litters of puppies and kittens have been spawned by "isolated" pets?)

The fact is, there is seldom a valid excuse for not getting a dog or cat spayed or neutered, and preferably as soon as a veterinarian judges the pet is old enough. But even if you've had a dog or cat around for a few years, if he or she is still capable of breeding, spaying or neutering is still important, and it's certainly not too late.

As Ledger-Enquirer staff writer Larry Gierer reported Monday, Paws Humane had already performed 4,374 birth control surgeries on cats and dogs by July 31, an 8 percent increase over the same date in 2014. To put in context what good news that is, take the number of unwanted kittens and puppies that might have been born to those animals, multiply it times a litter for each of those, times a litter for each of those, and so on, and you soon get a sense of why spaying and neutering isn't just an issue of humane and responsible treatment of animals, but a very real issue of public safety and public health.

Spaying or neutering isn't expensive -- a fraction of what any caring pet lover is going to pay for a companion animal just in the first few weeks of what should be a long friendship. The cost of not having it done is far higher, for a lot more animals and a lot more people.

Another tax scam?

Just as the story of a financial boondoggle targeting Fort Benning soldiers and their families passes momentarily from the headlines, here comes another Georgia-based tale of scruple-impaired financial ambition.

The Associated Press reported Monday that some Atlanta bank employees have been indicted in a scam involving more than $2 million in fraudulent tax refunds. This time, according to federal investigators, the targets were elderly retirees and children.

An Aug. 19 indictment alleges that employees of several Atlanta banks conspired to open bank accounts and file bogus tax returns in the names of real but unwitting individuals; file for refunds in those names; and then use those accounts to buy money orders subsequently cashed around the city.

It's important to note that this is an indictment, not a conviction or confession. But if it turns out these people are not innocent as presumed, then what they're accused of would make them about as guilty as it gets.