Year after year, awareness is growing all over Europe about the important role that companion animals play in our society. Their care, diet and quality of life are improving, and people are becoming more conscious of the responsibility that humans have for their well being.
Unfortunately, pets are still being abandoned: it is calculated that 87,000 dogs and 100,000 cats were abandoned in Spain in the year 2003.
The direct result is that the abandoned animals suffer, and that they usually end up dying after living under appalling conditions. But there are other terrible consequences: an environmental cost, since abandoned animals that end up living in the wild can cause damage to native animals and farm properties; a cost in traffic accidents, due to highways being crossed by them; health costs, since they may become sources of infection. And economic costs, given that the government must spend money to capture and support abandoned pets, money that could be spent on other social needs if animal abandonment ceased.
The main source of this problem is unwanted animals born from unplanned pregnancies. Studies confirm that store-bought pets are not abandoned and that most abandoned cats and dogs come from unplanned litters.
This situation persists in Spain while in countries such as Holland, Sweden or Germany it has practically disappeared. But where is the difference? It lies in educating owners on the importance of pet birth control. The existing taboos on pet spaying and neutering cause the birth of thousands of unwanted crossbreed animals that often end up being abandoned. Many owners still think of neutering or spaying as detrimental to their pet’s health because they project the human need to have children on their animals. This is a consequence of their lack of education coupled with a misunderstanding of what loving their pet really means.
It is also important to know that spaying females before their first heat cycle is very beneficial. It radically reduces the risk of suffering mammary tumours, a high-incidence disease; if the procedure is carried out on adult animals it does nothing to prevent this type of cancer.
In short, it is necessary to raise public awareness of these problems and promote pet owner education. Do not hesitate to ask your vet about any doubts you may have on pet birth control.
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Colegio Oficial de Veterinarios de Alicante
Mendez Nuñez, 38 · 03002 Alicante
Tel.: 96 521 41 11 · correo electrónico