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
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
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
So here are some facts about neutering:
* Always done under a general anesthetic, neutering is
* Patients usually return to normal activity within 24
* Discomfort is minimal; most animals don’t even require
* Altering animals virtually eliminates the risk of
* 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
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
A guy thing? Really?
Go on to BMP Gets
Whales on U.N. Forum Agenda
Return to 16 February 2000 Issue
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