Bob Barker treatment vital for population control

Kittens: Mother Layla nurses her new kittens that were born at the Osceola County Animal Shelter on April 14. If not spayed, female cats and dogs can produce multiple litters every year, which can quickly lead to overpopulation. Spaying and neutering also has medical benefits. (Herald photo/Karin Armbruster)
Kittens: Mother Layla nurses her new kittens that were born at the Osceola County Animal Shelter on April 14. If not spayed, female cats and dogs can produce multiple litters every year, which can quickly lead to overpopulation. Spaying and neutering also has medical benefits. (Herald photo/Karin Armbruster)

OSCEOLA COUNTY — The season of spring is symbolic for new life, but when it comes to dogs and cats, new life can mean overpopulation and future health concerns.

To help curb the problems, pet owners should make sure to spay or neuter their pets.

“Cats can breed like rabbits. A one or two cat problem can become a 40 or 50 cat problem. I would like to see people getting them fixed,” said Osceola County Animal Control Director Michelle Kuz.

Dogs and cats can produce multiple litters each year, and unneutered males are more likely to roam to try and find a mating partner, which can lead to danger when crossing a roadway and other threats. Females in heat attract males, which can not only lead to litters, but the transfer of diseases.

“Spaying and neutering — it starts there. If you love your pet, spaying and neutering not only keeps your animal at home, but it makes it safer for the animal,” Kuz added.

She said although the shelter is not full now, she expects to have more animals coming in throughout the upcoming weeks as breeding and births begin to take place.

“Overpopulation is a problem,” Kuz said. “We do not euthanize for space, but if a litter comes in, we’ll ask if the owner needs help with fixing the mother.”

Spaying and neutering does have medical benefits, according to veterinarian Barbara Todd from Country Veterinarian Service PC. In females that are not spayed, mammary tumors and cystic ovaries are a danger, and in unneutered males, testicular cancer, prostate issues and urinary tract infections can occur, she said.

Females producing litters at an older age run the risk of becoming nutritionally deficient and having to undergo C-sections.

Some veterinarians will schedule the procedure at as little as 12 weeks old, which is before puberty, but Todd said she recommends to wait until the dog or cat is at least six months old, which is after it has reached puberty.

She has seen urinary incontinence in females if spaying is done too early. Dogs and cats also tend to heal faster and handle the anesthesia better at the older age.

“Most pets are under anesthesia for 30 minutes or less during a routine procedure,” Todd added. “All spay and neuter procedures require general anesthesia.”

She said prices to have animals fixed vary by vet and even vary by the animal’s gender due to invasive versus non-invasive surgeries, but there are local programs available to assist pet owners with expenses. The Riley MacKenzie Fund and Wonderland Humane Society, for example, provide such help.

Kuz added animal control has wellness accounts set up with two veterinarians in which people can donate to a fund to help with spaying and neutering the animals kept at the shelter.

“Many people want the benefit of a pet, but can’t afford the cost. In the event a pet does have to be taken to a shelter, it stands a greater chance to get adopted if it is spayed or neutered,” she said.