Friday, April 22, 2016

A-Z of #Dog Rescue: Sterilization — #AtoZChallenge


We dog people often say sterilization when we mean spaying and/or neutering. But, actually, sterilization encompasses an entire gamut of procedures—and a pretty broad gamut it is, from surgical to non-surgical, and from permanent to temporary.

A quick overview:


 NON-SURGICAL STERILIZATION (or CONTRACEPTION) 

Chemical castration

Calcium chloride injected directly into the testes kills the tissue and causes sterility. If done properly, may be permanent—but it's impossible to know for sure. 

Hormones

Females receive a hormonal implant that regulates fertility. Risks are serious, though, and require careful monitoring. Few vets will recommend this.

Immunocontraception

Females are injected with a vaccine that produces antibodies, which attach to her eggs (ovum, if you want to get all technical) and prevent sperm from fertilizing them. Effects are only temporary.

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 SURGICAL STERILIZATION 

Fallopian tube ligation / Vasectomy

Very rare; only a few vets will (can?) perform it. Just like in humans, this procedure involves tying off the conduits of eggs (fine, ovum then) and sperm to avoid reproduction—but, because no organs are removed, it is, at least in theory, reversible. (And, in more than just theory, also pretty unreliable. Just like in humans.) 

Spay / Neuter

The big guns. (The ones that get the job done.) In females, the removal of the ovaries (and sometimes the uterus); in males, the removal of the testes. Surgery is simple and fast, pain is minimal, speedy recovery. And sterilization is permanent. (What's not to like?)


Oh, I know. It's such a harsh word, isn’t it? Sterilization. Sterile. Makes one think of moonscapes, cold and barren. Of merciless sun on endless dunes. Desolation. Despair.

And yet, when it comes to dogs (and many animals), permanent sterilization is how we spell hope.

An estimated three-quarters of the world’s dogs are unwanted. Homeless, surrendered to shelters, abandoned, living in the streets. An overwhelming majority won’t get a happy ending; there simply aren’t enough homes. 

And most of these dogs are fertile. They’re reproducing. Non-surgical options for population control aren't practical; they're either too expensive or not reliable enough. Which leaves us with—yes, spaying and neutering

But why should you, a responsible owner, have to spay or neuter your dog? (I mean, puppies!) Plus, you would never abandon your dog. Your dog will never know a homeless life.  

Think about this for a second. Can you really—absolutely, without any question at all—guarantee that your dog will never end up in the street? What if s/he gets lost? What if s/he’s stolen? Oh, and don’t forget Mother Nature. Hurricanes, earthquakes, fires—they shatter more than just human lives. Katrina left over 250,000 animals homeless. That’s a quarter of a million. And I bet none of their owners were prepared for that. (If they had been, they would’ve chipped them. And they would have spayed or neutered them.)


And then there are the marvelous side benefits:
  • A non-spayed female has seven times the risk of getting breast cancer than a spayed one. And, in spayed females, the risk of ovarian cancer is zero.
  • A neutered male’s risk of testicular cancer is also zero, and his chances of developing prostatic cancer go significantly down.
  • Intact (non-neutered) males often escape to follow a female in heat. Neutering your male dog keeps him safe from getting lost, fighting, getting hit by a car…
  • Intact males will mark their territory (read piss all over your house) much more than neutered ones.
  • In a multi-dog household, hormones are the original apple of discord. If all your dogs are spayed and/or neutered, conflicts defuse much faster.



RESOURCES:

Thanks for the visit! 
P.S. — Happy Earth Day! Here's an excellent post on Sustainability and Soil, by superstar bio-wizard Ann Bennett of Science Ladybug, to start the day right. As for me, I'm taking three of the dogs for a celebratory walk in the Kabouterbos (literally, dwarf forest), a wooded area close to the house. (So I might be late with replies and visiting back... To make it up to you, I'll share the photos on tomorrow's post.) And you? Any special plans? 

30 comments :

  1. This can't be emphasized enough! Thank you for this post, Guilie. Spaying and neutering is the best thing for the dog, and everyone else. My German mother didn't believe in sterilization. (It wasn't common practice there). Our beautiful miniature poodle was stolen out of my father's car when she was five years old, never to be seen again. She may well have ended up in some puppy mill; who knows? :(

    Dealing with a female in heat is no picnic either. Not only does she act a little nuts, but every single dog she encounters, be it male, female, fixed or not will pick up on the scent and go wild, themselves. Plus, it's messy. My mother used doggie diapers. :P

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    1. Oh, how sad about your poodle, Debbie... I don't even want to think about what might have happened to her. But, yes, great example of why all dogs need to be sterilized. My mom didn't sterilize all our dogs, either, though she always talked about it... It just wasn't a priority. And yes, females in heat are not fun :D

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  2. This may be one of the most important messages in this series, Guilie. Even with castrated males (are you listening, Trevor?) the presence of an ovulating bitch plays havoc with his head!

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    1. I hear you, Keith. My three males are castrated, but if a female in heat is even in the remote vicinity, they get all territorial and aggressive with each other. It's a pain :D (Trevor, did you hear that?)

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  3. I agree this is important for people to understand why they should spay/neuter their pets. My husband and I became proud owners of a new puppy just last week and we will have her spayed when she's old enough, as a matter of course.

    Susan A Eames from
    Travel, Fiction and Photos

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    1. Glad to hear that, Susan! You'll be giving your puppy the best gift :)

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  4. I agree this is important for people to understand why they should spay/neuter their pets. My husband and I became proud owners of a new puppy just last week and we will have her spayed when she's old enough, as a matter of course.

    Susan A Eames from
    Travel, Fiction and Photos

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  5. Not having a pet, I've often wondered about spaying and neutering. One of the longest running American game shows always ends with the request to spay and neuter your pets.

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    1. Jeffrey, now you've got me wondering which show that might be... Although maybe I wouldn't know it if you told me anyway, haha :) Glad I could provide some useful info :)

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    2. The Gameshow is "The Price is Right". If I'm not mistake, it's still running with the host Drew Carey.

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  6. Spaying and neutering can not be overstated! So critical. And you make such a valid point: not only does it keep the dog (and cat) population down, it is the healthy choice for these animals, keeping certain cancers at bay.
    I never heard of the other contraception methods (except chemical castration) so that was interesting...

    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. I agree, Michele... It really isn't just about controlling populations but also for the animal's health—at so many levels. A few months ago someone here in Curaçao wanted to launch a chemical castration program for strays (the calcium chloride shots), but he couldn't raise enough funds—and all the vets I spoke to didn't seem too enthused about it. A couple even mentioned it being painful (why would we deliberately inflict pain on a dog who's already suffered so much?), but I think the bottom line in terms of the program's failure to take off was due to the uncertainty in outcome... All that effort (catching the dogs, bringing them in, getting the vets trained to give the shots, etc.) and then only a maybe sterilization? Didn't seem to make much sense. Not sure how it works (or if it works) in other countries, but here it just didn't seem feasible. (Or humane, to be honest.)

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  7. Brokkr was neutered--and they did put a little tattoo on him as well. I'd never seen that done before. It's a little green line by his privates.

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    1. Ah, cool for Brokkr! The sterilization program I volunteer for also does the tattoo thing, but on the ear. It's a good way of keeping track of who's been sterilized already, and by whom, I guess :)

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  8. When I adopted Shelby from the local shelter she was only six weeks old. However, their policy was that the dog must be spayed/neutered before they will release the dog. I was a bit worried about having her spayed at that age, but it seemed to be fine. The next dog I adopted from the shelter was older 6-8 months, so it wasn't a big deal. But, I agree, that this might be the most important post you write. Spay/neuter your pet. You simply don't know what will happen. This post has me thinking about chipping my pet, which I've not ever considered before. I always thought it was waste of money. But, I wasn't taking into account natural disasters and/or freak accidents.

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    1. I'm glad you're considering chipping, Robin. I also always dismissed it as unnecessary... Until I got to Curaçao and a) found out how cheap it actually is, and b) saw an actual reunion story thanks to the dog being chipped. Still, only three of my dogs are chipped... I guess it's about time I start taking my own advice, eh?

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  9. Spaying is essential unless you intend to breed from a dog. Most dog rescue places recommend this.

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    1. As they well should, Bob. And, honestly, no one should intend to breed a dog... ;)

      Thanks for coming by!

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  10. Fantastic post and definitely something that dog owners should at the very least seriously consider.
    Debbie

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  11. I am proud to say all five of our dogs are fixed!

    Shelly @ http://hangryfork.com

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  12. Thanks for the reminder that all pets need to be neutered!

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  13. Yes, Happy Earth Day! Spaying and neutering are a real necessity with 3/4 of all dogs unwanted. Enjoy your weekend!

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    1. Thanks, Yolanda! Hope yours was a great one too :)

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  14. A very good message. I also had not heard of the other methods before.

    I hope that you enjoyed your walk!

    Tracy (Black Boots, Long Legs)

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    1. Thanks, Tracy! We did enjoy that walk... and just now I remembered I'd promised to share photos of that, hadn't I? I'll add them to tomorrow's post ;)

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  15. A friend of mine has never spayed her dog, and this poor dog keeps having litters. It's so irresponsible. One time, some of her puppies died because the owner doused them with too much flea powder.

    My father's sister claims to love animals so much, but she's very anti-spaying and neutering. She often asked my grandmother, 'How would you like it if someone had you fixed?' She also talked about how it would be so cute if Molly, one of their Poodles, had puppies again. My grandmother laughed, "If she had puppies again, it'd be a miracle, since we had her fixed!" My grandparents tried to keep Molly and Jake (the other original Poodle) separated on different floors, and with a high board between the kitchen and other upstairs rooms. Then one day, a young boy came to the door, and while my grandma was talking with him, Jake raced upstairs, jumped the barricade, and mated with Molly. They looked really guilty when my grandma came upon the scene. At least they had them fixed after that, gave the puppies to good homes and kept in touch with their owners over the years, and kept one of the puppies, Shadow, for his entire life.

    Welcome to My Magick Theatre
    Onomastics Outside the Box

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    1. Oh, Carrie-Anne, I hear you... I know so many people like that. Their dogs keep having litter after litter... It should be illegal. I had to laugh at Molly and Jake, star-crossed lovers :D We had a similar "accident" that left us with three adorable Cockapoo puppies—before Cockapoos were fashionable, or even known (at least in Mexico). And yes, both dogs were fixed afterwards... Truly, the lengths they went to in order to consummate their love were... extraordinary. (The male dislocated a hip escaping the backyard where he was "secluded"—and, even with the dislocated hip, managed to do the deed. Un-freakin'-believable :D

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