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Think about pets as Spay Day nears

It’s a proven fact — spaying and neutering are effective, and humane, ways to save the lives of animals.

These procedures are one of many important responsibilities that come with owning a dog or cat.

So along with providing a safe, warm home, food and water and daily exercise, we ask that animal owners please have their animals spayed or neutered to help stave off pet overpopulation problems.

This also is the plea made on World Spay Day — it’s Tuesday — to remind pet owners of their obligations.

With the growing numbers in pet ownership — some 78 million dogs are owned in the United States, while 85.8 million cats belong to someone — thankfully, many veterinarians and volunteers throughout America know the importance of spaying and neutering.

World Spay Day serves as an attempt to save the lives of homeless animals through the spaying or neutering of pets and feral cats.

Pet owners who neglect their dogs and cats by letting them run loose and refusing to have the animals spayed or neutered are a burden on their communities. Ultimately, shelters can become overrun with helpless, homeless animals.

Statistics show that two unaltered cats and all their descendants can theoretically number 420,000 in just seven years, while two unaltered dogs and all their descendants can theoretically number 67,000 in six years, according to information provided by the Humane Society of the United States.

The procedures also can improve the quality of life for animals — on average, the life expectancy of a male dog that has been neutered will increase by 18 percent, while the life expectancy of a female dog that has been spayed will increase by 23 percent.

Anyone visiting area dog pounds and animal shelters knows there are many unwanted pets waiting to be adopted. It’s a sitution that might not end well. According to statistics from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, it is estimated that 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized each year — that’s 860,000 cats and 670,000 dogs.

Unfortunately some pet owners are reluctant to spay or neuter their animals, but animals as young as 6 months old can safely undergo the procedures, according to veterinarians.

For pet owners who cannot afford to have their animals spayed or neutered, many shelters, including some in the Ohio Valley, can provide financial assistance for the surgery. Help is a phone call away, and please remember, it’s a pet owner’s responsibility to help reduce the number of homeless animals — period.

Keep in mind, too, that anyone pondering adopting a pet should think long and hard about properly caring for an animal. Bringing home a puppy or kitten and deciding a few months later that the responsibilities are just too great means another homeless animal will go to an already overcrowded shelter.

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