Pets Can Be Fixed, but Some Things You Just Can’t: Dumbest Reasons We’ve Heard for Not Spaying and Neutering

man-animals-kate

Graphic by Christina Lopriore, iFirefly Design

Yeah, the title’s harsh, but I’m frustrated. There’s an excessive number of unwanted pets on the streets, in colonies and in shelters. An increasing number of organizations, volunteers, and animal-care and shelter workers are working hard to stem it and are meeting with some success—Long Beach Animal Care Services reported last month that there’s been a 23 percent drop in euthanasia rates for dogs and a 37 percent reduction for cats from January to April—we’re one example of how all the dedication to rescue, adoption and spay/neuter is paying off.

Anyone who’s spent any significant time volunteering for animal causes, however, won’t jump up and down for joy at these stats because he or she knows how quickly the glee shatters when the head bumps up against the ignorance ceiling. This is constructed by the people who, even after attempts at education and the offer of a free spay or neuter procedure, refuse to alter their pets. And of course, they have solid reasons why they won’t get their pet fixed. A couple of weeks ago, I saw a woman who couldn’t have been more than 20 sitting on the sidewalk with a cardboard sign that said she was a starving musician. She sported stiff pink hair spiked to a dangerous point and an angelically beautiful face with dangerous-looking eyes. A big pit bull mix with complementary-size noogies slept with his head on her lap.

I admired the dog and told her about Food for Pets in Need’s free dog food giveaways on Sundays at Caesar Chavez Park and then about Fix Long Beach’s free neutering to help control shelter overpopulation and prevent unwanted pets—whole nine yards. “No way,” she said, with a look in her eyes that said that she’s been around the block many more times than I have and that she’d stab me with her hairdo if I didn’t mind my own damn business. “He’s with me 24/7 and won’t get anyone pregnant.”

“If she only knew the nature of the beast!” said Antje Hunt, who’s been around many blocks many times trapping and fixing feral cats for Long Beach Spay and Neuter. Hunt added that altered pets have a longer lifetime because of a significant decrease in the likelihood of developing mammary-gland or testicular cancer; furthermore, pets in heat want to roam, which may result in accidental death from running in the street or injuries from fighting.

But They Who Will Not Be Educated stand firm in their refusal to allow anything to penetrate their ignorance, and I’ve been long tired of shelters with conscientious staff, ours in particular, bearing the blame for having to perform euthanasia on the many results of other people’s irresponsibility. I’m tired of hearing about rescues and shelters that don’t kill their animals having to turn unwanted pets away because they’re bursting at the seams. I also know that number of people who wait on line, patiently or not, to get their pets fixed for free and help end the cycle far outnumber those with knucklehead sensibilities, but when you consider that the average cat in an average lifetime—say seven years—can theoretically produce 420,000 kittens, according to the L.A. Animal Shelter and these kittens can go on—the music goes round and round. Say we have 10 people who won’t fix their cat—well, do the math. And that’s just 10 people. And dogs—our shelter’s majority population comprises cast-off pit bulls, Chihuahuas and mixes thereof born out of neglect, greed, ignorance. The magic number given by most sources for the average dog is 67,000—the number of puppies produced by a female dog and her unspayed offspring in six years (source: Watauga Humane Society).

Spayneuter overpoppetpyramid

Arizona Humane Society

Even if we have successful adoption days like the one Best Friends had in L.A. last weekend http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcgc18eO1ts (400 pets went home!) or if 400 more get fixed at the Fix Fest (see below) or if the Friends of Long Beach Animals-funded clinic at Animal Care Services is busy every day when it opens, They Who Will Not Be Educated will still be filling up the shelters and rescues as well as the feral colonies and the streets. I’m not alone in my frustration—not hardly—so in an attempt at levity after this rant—if you can call any of these funny—I asked members of the animal-welfare community for the stupidest reasons they’ve heard for not fixing their pet. I wanted to compile a top-10 list, but there was too much dumb to choose from.

To wit:

“Oh, this is easy—I met a man at the end of our last clinic. He said he doesn’t want the dog to turn into a chicken. He then made pecking type gestures. I think he meant that he didn’t want the dog to get lazy.” (Patty Williams, Fix Long Beach volunteer)

“Another supposed health benefit is the decreased chance of testicular cancer in neutered dogs. In other words, if you cut it off, it can’t get cancer. This is true, but one could make the same argument about a dog’s leg. We should cut off a dog’s leg for the same reason. Dogs can get by just fine on three legs.” This was the actual quote!” (Bob Carleton, Friends of Long Beach Animals [FOLBA] president)

“They might not learn to lift their legs and will squat to pee.” (also Bob Carleton)

“Having sex is a God-given right that my pet deserves.” (Bob Carleton, too)

“A guy came [to our adoption event] looking for a male-anything dog. “How can you cut off their balls—that’s horrible! How would you feel?” he said as he crossed his legs. I tried to explain to him what we did and why we did it. He wasn’t listening and did not care, so I asked him nicely to leave.” (Faye Costigane, Animal Match Rescue Team [AMRT] volunteer)

“He/she’s just the best dog ever, and I need to breed him/her so I can have a puppy just like him/her.” (Jennifer Johnson, retired vet tech and Fix Long Beach volunteer)

“‘I don’t have the time to do it.’ Really, people? You have time for everything else!”(Judy Crumpton, humane educator and my erstwhile writing partner)

“I’ve heard someone say that they couldn’t spay their Chihuahua until it had a litter of puppies because it was ‘unhealthy’ for female dogs. Ugh.” (Jillian Clemons, rescue volunteer and owner and printmaker of Best in Shore/Bark Long Beach)

“My vet told me my dog had to be 6 months old.” (Louise Montgomery, AMRT volunteer)

“My dog would have nothing to lick without his balls.” (Lynda Montgomery, AMRT volunteer and comedian.

“Losing his balls will turn a pit bull into a poodle and a female poodle into a pit bull.” (also Lynda Montgomery)

“There’s no wayI’m going to have my boy’s balls removed; he’d never forgive me.” (Prefers to remain anonymous)

“Neuter? No way. I’m going to make money using him to make puppies.” I asked him if he knew that this is illegal in Long Beach, and he responded, “So I’ll just go to Orange County.” (prefers to remain anonymous.)

“I don’t want to take his manhood away.” (Emmanuela Pena, Fix Long Beach volunteer.

“Well, I wouldn’t do it to my little son, so why him?” (someone I met on the street)

“The stupidest thing I heard was from a person who said, ‘I don’t want to spay/neuter because that’s going to ruin their personality.'” (Anna Wong, Stray Cat Alliance volunteer.

“I don’t want him to lose his manhood.” (Dawn Weller, FOLBA board member)

“How would you like to have your balls cut off?” (Doug Erickson, that other Pet Post)

And finally, from the Hope of our Future gallery:

“‘I want my dog to be able to have fun—you know, that kind of fun.’ This was from a 12-year-old boy!” (Christina Marie, Fix Long Beach volunteer)

I’ve run into many, many kids who are completely involved in animal welfare, but that last one cheesed me off more than any of the others (where are the parents?). As I said, we’re frustrated, but no one I know is giving up the battle.

If you’ve heard any winners, post them below. Till next time.

Dick

“People need to be educated so that they can make intelligent moral choices”
~ Gary L. Francione, author

Virtually Pets

Bodie Butch and Dude

Bodie, Butch and Dude

Butch and Dude (center, right) look like eccentric identical twins with their own butler—Bodie, the tuxedo. Yeah, they wish. The feline trio belonged to a dying woman with no family; thanks to a neighbor who spoke to the right person who spoke to Animal Care Services, the three of them are now waiting for their own lap of luxury. Make their acquaintance at Animal Care Services on the shelter side of the Pitchford Companion Animal Village at 7700 East Spring St., (562) 570-PETS. Ask for ID#A519081 (Bodie), ID#A519084 (Butch) and ID#A519086 (Dude).

Homing In on Animal Cruelty

I so hope that this doesn’t become a regular feature. As you no doubt have read, a California brown pelican was found in Long Beach, his pouch sliced open with a sharp object. He was rushed to International Bird Rescue in San Pedro where he’s receiving rehabilitative care. As recently reported here by Sarah Bennett, an anonymous donor has offered a $20,000 reward for information on this act of selfishness and cruelty. If you want to contribute to the recovery of the pelican, now named Pink, click on the organization’s link.

Humane Education for Parents Now Available!

In the spirit of the animal community’s concern for animal welfare and prevention of animal cruelty, author and humane educator Deborah Turner and Friends of Long Beach Animals (FOLBA) are joining forces with the Long Beach School District to offer free humane education classes for parents as well as classroom presentations for grades pre-K–12! Parents will learn about kindness and care for pets. Teachers are also invited to book their free presentations for classrooms as well. The curriculum, approved by the LBUSD, are informative and timely with regard to events around the city, as they help both children and adults learn about compassion for and kindness to animals in these hour-long presentations. For information on the curriculum and booking, e-mail [email protected]. Read about the program here.

Pet Projects

Pet Adoption Day, Sunday, May 11, Gelson’s Market, 6225 E. 2nd St. (and PCH), Long Beach, 11AM–3PM

It’s Mother’s Day, and how about bringing Mom to Gelson’s for flowers, candy, pastry, and a pet? Yep, Mom can choose from among a number of sweetie-pies at Gelson’s Pet Adoption Day, featuring pets from West Coast Animal Rescue, Long Beach Spay and Neuter, and our shelter at Animal Care Services (ACS). Just remember—bring Mom along to be sure she actually wants a pet, and let her pick! Gelson’s will supply free samples from their pet partners and give away a free reusable bag and store coupons with any donation to these groups. For more information, contact Gelson’s Marketing Department, 818-377-6494.

Fix FEst

Fix Long Beach’s Fix Fest and Pet Fair; City Prosecutor’s Office Presents the Third Annual Animal Cruelty Prevention and Care Conference, Saturday, May 17, Silverado Park, 1545 W 31st St., Long Beach, 7AM–3PM

What a jubilee day for pets! Fix Long Beach plans to celebrate its one-year anniversary by fixing over 300 pets—Long Beach residents only—through mobile spay/neuter clinics and thus preventing the birth of unwanted animals in a number that’s impossible to figure without an advanced TI Titanium calculator. FLB invites all area mobile clinics to join in by contacting [email protected]; all participants and sponsors will be named on the flyer. Please contact Claudia if you know of any clinics that will join in. The Fix Fest is held in collaboration with the third annual Long Beach Animal Cruelty Conference, presented by the office of City Prosecutor Doug Haubert and by Animal Care Services.

$50 off Pet Adoptions, May 14–16, Long Beach Animal Care Services and spcaLA, 7700 E. Spring St. (in El Dorado Park), Beach.

In celebration of Gay Pride, four organizations are joining hands to achieve one common goal. Friends of Long Beach Animals (FOLBA), Long Beach Animal Care Services (ACS) and spcaLA are teaming with Long Beach Lesbian & Gay Pride, Inc., to offer subsidized adoptions at the P.D. Pitchford Companion Animal Village during Gay Pride Weekend. All adoptions during this period will be reduced by $50 to lower the total cost of bringing home a loving pet. FOLBA will have a table at the Long Beach Lesbian and Gay Pride Celebration and we encourage you to stop by, say hello and offer your support. We will also be walking in the parade along with Long Beach Animal Care Services. Members are encouraged to join us.

spcaLA Foster Class, Sunday, May 19, P.D. Pitchford Companion Animal Village, 7700 E. Spring St., Long Beach, 10AM–noon

Help a pet better his or her chance at adoption! spcaLA is looking for foster parents for pets of all ages and needs. Potential foster parents must fill out and submit an application, available here, before attending a class. For more information, call (323) 730-5300.

Free Pet Adoptions for the Military, Saturday–Sunday, May 24–25, spcaLA PD Pitchford Companion Animal Village, 7700 E. Spring St. (in El Dorado Park), Long Beach

spcaLA and Animals for Armed Forces Foundation honor and say thanks to our dedicated service men and women by providing free pet adoptions. The adoption discount applies to active duty, Reserve, and veterans of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and National Guard and/or immediate family members. (Must provide documentation, for more info click here). Adoption fee is waived for first 50 pet adoptions, limit 2 per household. Adopters must meet spcaLA adoption requirements. Additional fees such as medication, e-collars may apply.

FOLBA

Friends of Long Beach Animals’ (FOLBA) WALK for the Animals, Saturday, May 31, Marina Vista Park, 5355 E. Eliot St., Long Beach, 9AM–3PM

You don’t want to miss out on a great day in the park for a great cause. Marie Hulett, the host of the Pet Place Radio Show, will be the MC for the event. Joining her will be DogPACT, providing K9 agility and “nose work” demonstrations throughout the day with Tess, a member of the K-9 Bed Bug Detection Team with the uncanny ability to locate bed bugs. There will be other animal demonstrations and exhibitions, animal rescue and adoption groups, live entertainmentby the Blue Steel Band, vendors of all kinds, great raffle prizes, food, a kid zone, special guests and much, much more! A bike valet will be available for those who want to ride to the event, which is free and open to the public. Topreregister for the WALK itself, click here.The cost is $30.00 and includes two complimentary Laugh Factory Long Beach passes, great discounts, a WALK T-shirt and more!Registration the day of the event is $35.00. This event raises funds for FOLBA, a nonprofit organization in its 23rd year serving Long Beach and Signal Hill, committed to saving animals’ lives through spay/neuter and education programs and fostering responsible pet ownership, education and humane treatment of all animals.

Heidi and Frank Pet Adoption Day, Hosted by spcaLA and presented by 95.5 KLOS Saturday, June 7, spcaLA PD Pitchford Companion Animal Village, 7700 E. Spring St. (in El Dorado Park), Long Beach,10AM–4PM

It’s spcaLA’s biggest pet adoption event of the year—come find your Friend for Life!Enjoy a day of sunshine and pet adoptions at spcaLA’s Companion Animal Village in Long Beach! Pet adoptions, vendor booths, refreshments, silent auctions, and family fun.

Dog Park Etiquette Class, Saturday, June 14, spcaLA PD Pitchford Companion Animal Village, 7700 E. Spring St. (in El Dorado Park), Long Beach,4–6PM, $10

Be a good dog-park visitor. Understand and learn to recognize good and bad behaviors to encourage positive interactions at the dog park. This class is for humans only. Please do not bring your dog to class!

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Kate Karp is the Pets Columnist for the Long Beach Post covering the world of animal activism, pet adoptions and lots of cute cats. She’s called Long Beach home since 1994 and has written for the Post for about 10 years. Kate’s day job is as a copyeditor, which she discovered a love for during her 30-year tenure as a teacher. She describes the job as “like taking the rough edges off a beautiful sculpture.”
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