Animal Writes
© sm
16 February 2000 Issue
A Guy Thing? Really?

by MR[email protected]

Ignorance is one of the evils of our society. We hear college-educated adults make racially insensitive jokes and we understand that education is not always an antidote to ignorance.

However, for the sake of homeless animals destined to die in our nations pounds, ignorance about sterilization is insupportable. I guess being a female I am incapable of understanding the reasons that some highly-educated and intelligent men exhibit totally moronic attitudes when it comes to the sterilization of their male animals. If you have a friend or partner that refuses to have his male dog or cat neutered, here is some ammunition for the argument for sterilization.

As a humane educator, I meet many responsible people who insure their animals are vaccinated and medically treated when ill or injured. As an incentive to pet sterilization, government agencies sell rabies tags for sterilized animals at a rate significantly lower than that charged for intact animals. This proves that we, as a society, are in agreement that we need to stop the overpopulation of unwanted pets. When we bring this fact to the attention of some male owners, however, we inexplicably get the response that, “I couldn’t do that to him”.

Gary and Jayne, some friends of mine, have a mixed-breed male dog. Gary is an attorney, presumably well-educated and intelligent. During dinner one evening, they discussed their dogs’ habit of running away, but rationalized that it wasn’t really a problem since he always came back. I was surprised to learn that the dog was not neutered. I offered that the dog would stay home and not be contributing to the overpopulation problem if only they had him neutered. To be sure, this dog is running about the neighborhood mating with bitches in heat and contributing to litters of unwanted puppies.

After explaining the health benefits and social responsibility of male dog neutering, Jayne declared “Oh, Gary is against that. It’s a guy thing” Gary, with a straight face and in all sincerity, agreed. He “just didn’t think it was right”. He allowed that my arguments were sound, but he just couldn’t bring himself to do this “thing” to his dog, and wouldn’t allow his wife to take the dog in for surgery either. In light of the fact that I wasn’t entertaining the mountain-man character in Deliverance, his statements seemed unbelievably absurd.

This is not the first time I have heard this song and dance! I hear it over and over again from men just as smart as Gary, and I don’t “get it”. Women don’t seem to have this little hang-up when it comes to spaying their female dogs and cats. They just do it. So what’s this seemingly testosterone-produced point of view? Are men living vicariously through their bitch-in-heat seeking mutts? Are they projecting their own feelings of sexual prowess or failure through their canine buddies? Would Sigmund Freud himself have any enlightening thoughts were we able to present him with this very strange phenomenon?

There is no response that I can think of to the statement “I’m a guy, I couldn’t do it to him.” This non-argument defies logic, so cannot be adequately debated. A gentleman recently brought to our clinic his best friend, an eight year old Giant Schnauzer diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. The man wept openly for his friend who was to meet death much sooner than necessary. I couldn’t help but wonder how many times over the past eight years this man had been urged to have his dog altered. For reasons known only to him, he “just couldn’t do it”.

So here are some facts about neutering:

* Always done under a general anesthetic, neutering is painless.

* Patients usually return to normal activity within 24 hours.

* Discomfort is minimal; most animals don’t even require pain medication.

* Altering animals virtually eliminates the risk of testicular cancer.

* Unsterilized animals are more likely to be killed by cars as a result of straying from home.

There is nothing virile about a friend dying by the side of the road, having been hit by a car; or having to undergo chemotherapy or, worse, dying of prostate or testicular cancer before his time because his caregiver had some archaic hangups about altering him. There is no shame in crying in a vet’s office for a terminally sick friend, but how do you explain to him that you “just didn’t think it was right” to have had a five-minute surgery which would have avoided the sad ending.

Prostate and testicular cancers are not the only risks eliminated by altering. Unneutered dogs also have a higher incidence of perioneal tumors, venereal disease, transmissible venereal tumors, prostatitis or benign prostate hypertrophy.

Why put a friend at risk? Why not save his life and make him happier and healthier?

A frequently asked question is whether the neuter operation is similar to a vasectomy in a human. It is not. A vasectomy simply removes the route of testosterone to the penis; the testicles stay intact, and testosterone continues to be manufactured and released into the system. When an animal is neutered, the testes are removed (orchiectomy). This eliminates testosterone, and the animal no longer has the hormones that make him want to breed. It is much kinder to take away the dog’s urge to mate when he is unable to do so.

Personality and behavioral changes, if they occur at all, are positive. Neutered males fight less with animals they meet. Altered animals remain loyally protective to their families because their home becomes more important to them. New animals being added to the household are more quickly accepted.

Some may argue that only female dogs have puppies and therefore are solely responsible for the pet overpopulation problem. “It’s not my pet having babies, it’s not my responsibility to find homes for them all!” While female dogs and cats can only have one litter at a time, male animals can impregnate many females every day. To those who respond “Atta boy, Rex!”; spend a day at the euthanasia room of your local pound. Set aside a few hours, there are a lot of animals to kill.

But, you argue, “but he never goes out”. Please forgive the anthropomorphization, but, how would it feel to have this incredible drive to procreate, to relieve sexual tension, but have no outlet? Canines and felines have the same sexual drive that humans do, but they can’t masturbate or practice family planning. As a result, they experience incomprehensible frustration.

Another favorite argument is “it’s not natural”. Get real. Dogs haven’t been “natural” for centuries. Are Boston Terriers or Standard Poodles really “natural”? Any resemblance to ancestral wolves has long been carefully and profitably bred out of the domestic dog we know today.

A guy thing? Really?

Go on to BMP Gets Whales on U.N. Forum Agenda
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