Many animal welfare groups recognize the last Tuesday in February as Spay & Neuter Day in the U.S. Here are some reasons we speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Over a year ago, a BBC documentary (“Pedigree Dogs Exposed”) focused on health problems suffered by some show dogs that are likely to be caused by deliberate inbreeding. It blamed some breeders for trying to achieve a standard regardless of the effects on the welfare of the animals. The documentary’s criticism of this practice, albeit in only a few breeders, yielded, among other things, the cancellation of the BBC’s coverage of the British dog show, Crufts, which is similar to the AKC‘s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
The Kennel Club UK responded by revising breed standards across the board, saying it was to discourage breeding practices that might result in a condition harmful to a dog’s health. Not all breeders welcomed the changes. But it’s a start.
In a recent blog by HSUS president Wayne Pacelle, (“Dog Breeding: Behind the Best in Show”) he says that similar congenital/hereditary problems exist in purebred dogs here in the U.S. too, and the American Kennel Club should basically get its act in gear and meet the problem “head on.” Whether this will provoke a similar response from the AKC is yet to be seen, but thanks to the HSUS for speaking out.
In the Penn State Collegian, staff writer Casey McDermott wrote recently that the university is seeking to relocate a feral cat colony that, although not new to the campus, has been pointed out as a potential hazard to the community. While most feral animals do not aggressively seek human contact, there seems to be concern for the children in a nearby daycare center who might try to approach the animals, not knowing about their feral origin. It could then be a serious health hazard if a child is scratched or bitten by an unvaccinated animal. Apparently in the past the university has had outside agencies catch the cats and remove them. This temporarily reduces the number of cats in the territory, but invites new cats to move in to take over, establishing themselves within the present feral community.
Probably the most thorough avenue of dealing with a situation like this is to start a Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR) program. It establishes a zero growth level for the colony but discourages outside felines from coming in to take over the colony’s territory. In addition to spaying and neutering cats, a TNR program can provide necessary vaccinations, such as rabies for example, as well as identify colony members to chart the size and age of the colony.
Already at least one organization has stepped up to offer this type of service to Penn State, a group in the State College area which was reported as offering the TNR service to the university free of charge. Let’s hope they succeed.
Please spay and neuter your pets!