Haywood Spay/Neuter to the rescue — before pets 'spring' into action
I don’t have to remind you about all the wintery weather we shared in February. Those snowy and snowed-in days brought us all closer together — maybe a little too close.
Did you know? — Biologists predict that many cooped-up couples have cuddled a little too closely together, and may find themselves “expecting” later this year — in the form of another hungry mouth (or two) to feed.
Thankfully, I was “fixed” many years ago — Which brings me to an important point about our pet population. (How’s that for a segue?)
Spring is right around the corner. And as Lord Tennyson told us so poetically, “In the spring a young man’s fancy often turns to thoughts of love.”
So if you have any dogs and cats in and around your house, let me tell you — both the young men and women among them are already past the thinking stage — they are very actively “doing it.”
If you ever wondered why the Humane Society of the U.S. has designated February as Spay and Neuter Awareness Month, it’s because this is such a sexually active time for our pet population.
This was made abundantly clear to me when I stopped by Haywood Spay/Neuter this week to photograph 63 pet owners as they were reunited with their newly spayed and neutered critters.
It was good to see so many pet owners doing the right thing to prevent pet overpopulation. It was also very touching to see all the welcoming eyes, perked-up ears and wagging tails.
Even the cats looked stoically pleased.
I also visited with Haywood HS/N board president, Connie Hewitt, who showed me the startling statistics.
Of the 16 female dogs spayed this transport, eight were already in heat, and one was pregnant. Of the 13 female cats spayed, five were already in heat and two were pregnant.
Yes, the pets have already begun their “spring fling,” and as responsible pet owners, we need to do our part to help reduce the number of puppies and kittens entering local animal shelters.
Now is the time to take action, especially when you know the facts that kittens can go into heat as young as four months, and puppies by five months.
Fixing animals by four months eliminates heat cycles and all the behavioral issues associated with them.
The fact is, spaying and neutering your pets at an early age actually improves their health and happiness. The sterilization reduces the risk of both infections and reproductive cancers, including glandular and uterine cancers in females and prostate cancer in males.
Sterilization also improves pet behavior. Without the desire to breed, pets are more content to stay at home — out of danger. They are less likely to become nervous or over excited, and less likely to exhibit aggressive behavior like biting.
Which brings me back to the tremendous resource we have in the community — Haywood Spay/Neuter.
HS/N is really making a tangible difference in Haywood County — significantly reducing the number of unwanted pets going into shelters.
Intake of unwanted dogs has been reduced by nearly 17 percent over the past five years. Intake of unwanted cats is down by nearly half.
HS/N is doing this, in part, by providing low-cost spay/neutering.
Through their partnership with the Humane Alliance in Asheville, the cost of spaying dogs and female cats is just $50, including rabies vaccination. Male cats are just $40.
Haywood County pet owners on government assistance programs can spay/neuter their pets for just $10.
HS/N even has an “Operation Pit” that offers free spay/neuter for pit bulls and pit mixes, including rabies and distemper/parvo vaccine, microchip and very fashionable, pit-friendly kerchief.
For more information about HS/N services, visit www.haywoodspayneuter.org, or call 452-1329. Office hours are noon to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Friday.