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Interested to know How many here desex their dogs and cats?

 
Kate McCullagh
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If not, why?
 
Scott Farmer
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There are so many fantastic potential companions out there in dire need of homes! Please spay and neuter!

My 2 year old Rottie mix is hanging out here next to me!
 
Chris Kott
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I disagree with neutering/spaying in a permacultural context, because in my opinion if you need to spay/neuter in your system to maintain balance, you need to reevaluate your system. I think it's a practice that demands constant inputs and indicates inappropriate design choices.

I won't have cats in my system if I can have, say, chickens or ostriches handle the varmints for me; cats just eat your food and put hair everywhere. I loved my last two cats (both male, and both fixed, for scent reasons), and they were, at times, the only solution to an otherwise untenable rodent situation, but that was in an urban environment, and I am now facing allergies that preclude their possibility. The plight of dogs in a world of backyard breeders is heartwrenching to me, and if I can, at some point, help out an animal rescue by fostering over the short-term, I think I'd like to do that. But if I am to have animals as part of my system, part of my selection will depend on animal husbandry.

To me there is a simple distinction to be made. Pets (companions, if you'd like) should probably be spayed/neutered (I resist the term "fixing," as I regard it as "breaking"), because with the exception of animals with exceptional intelligence or capability in the assistance or therapy of humans (where this can be attributed to a breed characteristic), there is no need for purpose-bred pets, also excepting that there are inherited traits that make for better or worse companions. Work animals, however, usually need to be whole. If I have herding dogs that exhibit exceptional intelligence and aptitude for herding over and above what is expected of them, I will want to breed those individuals. Just as some mixed breeds are inappropriate for companionship, there are some jobs only suited to certain breeds of dog.

This doesn't suggest that, because I want to be able to breed exceptional animals, that I will seek to turn it into a business, and to hell with the welfare of individuals.

I think we need to shift to a mentality of responsible animal ownership rather than profit and quick fixes. As long as it was free or fully subsidized, I'd support licensing pet ownership, or setting up requirements for breeders that would effectively end not specifically backyard breeders, but puppy mills. I think that as many people as possible should get rescues where an appropriate individual can be found, but more energy should be spent to engender a culture of respectful pet ownership, so that in a generation or two, we don't have Bob Barker's successor pleading for us to spay and neuter our animals. (Just to clarify about my views about backyard breeders, I think it can be a fine option for some companion pets that don't respond well to the kennel breeder environment, i.e, where the pets are especially human-oriented and benefit from hand-raising in a home/family environment, but you still need to think about the individuals, and breeding needs to be in response to an expressed need, as in, "Hey neighbour, I love your hypoallergenic, genius, babysitter dog that reads minds. I would like one of your next litter." A number of like requests adding up to the average number in the litter for that breed might constitute a reason to have another litter, not, "Oh, looks like Bessie's good to go, better get Rover in with her," or "Oh, shit, it looks like we're going to have puppies in another three months."

I just think that the whole spay/neuter campaign thing is insufficient, as bourne out by the fact that the same message has been repeated for decades, and the situation hasn't gotten any better. Maybe we need better trade relations with North Korea (I'm sorry, I just couldn't end without a dog eating joke).

-CK
 
Kate McCullagh
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I am in dog rescue. I have a lot of experience with dogs, and I know there are a lot of reasons for desexing female that lessen vet visits, such as pyometra, ovarian or uterine cancer, even some breast cancers. I also know that whilst your dog may be exceptonal, breeding a litter of pups from it, does not guarantee anything.

I asked this because I have read a few threads here where people are asking for small dog breeds to act as livestock guardians, because they can't afford to feed a large dog. I guess that means vet care needed means a bullet? Also, throughout, people discussing getting a dog, for a reason, and then saying they intend to breed from it for extra money.

I had to stop reading, and I wondered if this was a view held by the majority, as if so, I'd prefer to leave. I don't find the Korea 'joke' even in the same continent as funny, on a personal level. Thanks, Scott for lifting my spirits just a little.

I'd be interested to know what MIXED breeds are not suitable as companions. I think that remark is based on a lack of experience with dogs. To start with, every mixed breed can have a HUGE variance, even in a litter. secondly, every individual owner has a different wants list from their companion, so the sweeping statement that MIXED breeds may not be suitable as companions seems to have a logic plucked out of the air.
 
Chris Kott
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Kate, I didn't want to have to go into it, because you probably have more experience with how thoughtless humans can be. I wasn't seeking to generalize as to the fitness of all mixed breeds (the words may and might suggest this), but specifically, I was referring to the byproducts of breeding programs intended for purely financial gain. The inexpert and "budget" breeding of those using dogs for, say, pit fighting, as a malicious example, or simply the acts of pet owners who seek to make some money on the side. Let me be clear here: I do not support such attitudes, let alone behaviour. But I am not willing to risk children around rescue dogs whose parentage is questionable to the extent that you could have multiple generations of in-line breeding (siblings and parents producing offspring together), producing unstable animals, or at least ones that aren't as predictable as they need to be regarding children and livestock. Unpredictable behaviour can also result from bad pet ownership. I'd be suprised if you haven't come across individuals "trained" by people who didn't know what they were doing to produce or stress guard or attack dog characteristics. Similar things can happen with neglect, or just not understanding that unpredictable punishment and reward is one of the easiest way to drive a dog dangerously unstable.

I am sorry you don't respond well to dark humour; I don't actually think eating dog is funny. There is a thread about it where I think I've made my point clear, I won't seek to repeat myself. I will, however, say that my earliest experience with the concept was a story my older cousin told me when I was quite young, when she and her family had spent some time in Hong Kong (not Korea, I know, bear with me). Walking through a market, she stopped to admire puppies in a cage. She couldn't understand why the locals found it hilarious.

Perhaps pets should not be bred at all. I personally think outdoor city cats should be neutered/spayed. I can understand where you might feel the same way about a lot of living things. But animal husbandry has been practiced at least as long as agriculture, and its not that difficult a concept to understand: you have two animals that exhibit traits that you want in the next generation, so you put them in a situation where they breed. If, as in canines, a litter is produced, there will be genetic variations, and not all dogs will have the same strengths, or the sought-after traits. That is why champion breeders also sell animals as pets, usually with non-breeding contracts. Likewise, there can be dogs in the same litter that exhibit exceptional working characteristics, but wouldn't win a dog show, and dogs that would take ribbons but couldn't do the job its ancestors were bred for without as much training as any other dog.

Animals have been desexed for a long time for varieties of reasons, I don't take issue with that fact. I take issue with intelligent, capable people jumping to stop-gap measures when what may be necessary is a careful examination of how people operate. In the long run, I think people need to adopt greater respect for all life, even if, or perhaps especially if, we rely on that life as a source of food. I think people need to stop giving pets as gifts. I think people should be made more aware of the full extent and reality of puppy mills and pounds, with full, graphic demonstrations as to why we need to change our thinking as opposed to just saying, "Please spay and/or neuter your pet."

Lastly, I try not to take umbrage when people jump to unfounded conclusions regarding my views or character. I have, for the record, been the crazy pet owner who's cat was saved from death's door for a month by spending a month's wages at the Veterinary Emergency Clinic. He was four and we had unknowingly been feeding him catfood tainted with melamine. He got better to the point that one of his last acts was to kill a rat bigger than he was (he was amazing, the only marks on the thing were two puncture wounds where his teeth met in its throat). It turns out that the special food the vet sold us were also contaminated. I loved that cat, and knowing what I know now, I would have let him go the first time. You have to provide as best you can for the lives in your charge, but sometimes the bullet is best, and the suggestion that it doesn't hurt the one shooting more deeply and for longer than the one shot is, frankly, insulting.

I wish you all the best in your future endeavours.

-Chris Kott

 
Jay Green
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Sometimes we do, sometimes we don't...for the same reasons outlined above. Some are worthy of passing along genes that suit our needs on the farm, some are worthy but not enough that we would want to breed unless we had others speaking for the extra pups born~as such, breeding for further progeny is a rarity.

We don't obtain female cats and our male cats are usually fodder for the coyotes here, so paying for procedures to desex is moot. We don't have feral cat problems out here in the country and stray dogs are often dispatched quickly, so the spay/neuter dilemma isn't a primary focus where we live.
 
Chris Kott
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Okay, perhaps my last post had a bit a hypervigilance to it. I'll just mention context. Jay, you've led us to an important observation I skipped entirely. It's just like the whole gun lobby thing here in Canada. Rural firearms owners, usually rifles and shotguns, are usually inconvenienced for no better reason than some bleeding-heart liberal bugger (lower-case L liberal, I'm being inclusive) thinks it'll get him reelected. City problems and rural problems often have different root causes, and blanket responses are usually inefficient at addressing the individual concerns of each. On a farm (we'll imply there's some work being done to pay taxes and feed the farmers, and that they aren't independently wealthy and doing it for fun), all livestock are resources. A fool squanders his resources by neglecting them and using them badly, leading to decreased lifespan. It is likewise foolish to throw good money after bad when it could be better used. I do see problems with how vets work these days. They tend to treat their patients as they would humans, especially at urban emergency animal hospitals. This ill-serves the pet owner (as I've related in my second post), and if it occurs towards the end of an unhealthy life or in the event of imminent death, which is when most pet owners seek out the Animal Emergency Hospital, oftentimes the result is just prolonging the inevitable with a ridiculous bill.

If we want to fix the system, it won't be by humanizing every living thing. That way leads at best to heartache, and at worst to manipulation into financial ruin by unscrupulous self-interested parties. I firmly believe that all animals should be allowed the fullest and most natural life open to them, even if they do get "fixed" (by the way, summering in the Madawaska Valley at a younger age, I saw how the seventh generation of farmers in the area neutered male dogs. It involved a stump, an axe, sterilization, and apart from some sanitary measures to stave off infection, an insistence that the dog "walk it off" and not be coddled about it afterwards.), and as stewards of these lives we need to take seriously that charge of stewardship, and do our level best to make sure that all those lives are full and happy. In terms of accomplishing positive change, I think the lobby needs to focus on promoting responsible urban and suburban pet ownership, including adopting rescues into their families, and increased punitive measures for practices that result in neglect, cruelty, and more "stock" than "demand." Also, we need to keep discouraging pets as gifts (the spontaneous and ill-considered kind, anyway).

It is not uncommon that even the most restrained of us become impassioned over topics near and dear to us. If I am somewhat harsher at times than some comfort levels allow, it's usually because soft words and diplomacy are already being bandied about to the point of ineffectuality.

-CK
 
Jay Green
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Agreed and amen!
 
Sharon Marsh
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I've lived with dogs and cats and I've always chose to spay/neuter. I currently have one cat. She is spayed and has been since I decided a few weeks after her appearance that I would let her stay. She is excellent at keeping mice under control around the house and barn, she makes a good effort at catching voles and moles and I've noticed a decrease in snakes near the house since she arrived.
 
Renate Howard
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If we choose to protect our pets from predators then we're responsible for protecting them from overpopulation, imho. Even if the predators would be the bears, wolves, etc. that were killed off long ago by our ancestors. Nature tends toward abundance in a healthy system, and mostly that's good because when you have abundance you can feed a lot of it to something else. If you prefer not to feed cats and dogs to something else, then by all means neuter them!
 
Walter Jeffries
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No. Desexing reduces their drives which interferes with their ability to do their job. It also would interfere with their ability to breed.

Sustainability means having replacement individuals in the future - dogs don't live for ever. If I don't want them to breed I just say so. The alpha pair are a mated team and they tell the others not to breed so problem solved.

Neutering and spaying also causes health problems. Life is short enough without inducing cancer and such.

We have no cats.
 
Kat Green
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YES, YES, YES!!! I live in a rural area and there is an overpopulation of pets and working dogs too. If you are rural and don't have enough just ask. Animal Control here will be glad to fly some to you. Desexing does not reduce their drive and does reduce health risks which any vet will confirm. I had a spayed dog who walked through fire to save my life. She was a pound puppy. A spayed or neutered animal can focus on the job without distraction of other dogs. As for saving the gene pool...I have worked for breeders and if they are very lucky, they may get 2 dogs out of every 15 produced that will have the desired characteristics. The rest of the litter just adds to the overpopulation by taking places in homes that could have been for a rescued pet. Unfortunately, puppy mills do exist an are horrific but the individuals who have one or two dogs are adding even more to the overpopulation than the puppy mills. They breed their dog to a neighbors of the same breed to make $ without knowing what genes are being combined. In my many years of experience, this has led to the current "most popular breed"'s demise. I have encountered vicious Saint Bernards, blind Mastiffs, timid Retrievers, neurotic poodles, Chihuahua with severe joint issues and currently, the pit bulls who are adding their bad side to the mix breed gene pool. Did you know that one cat can produce 10,000 kittens and grand kittens in her life time? Sustainability?? Mr Jefferies, do you really think you can just say no? The dogs and cats don't understand you. They only understand natures call to reproduce. If you have an unsprayed female, the boys will come to call. Some of you macho types think it is wrong to neuter your male but I have seen that they can still do it if a girl is handy. They wont go wandering (hit by cars, shot, lost, or "quickly dispatched " per Jay Green's post) to find it. For those of you who want to let your female have the experience of having a litter (i.e. raped, have her body torn apart 5 or more times in sequence to deliver, love her babies only to have them disappear at the hands of the owners she trusted, sicken your children by having them watch and desensitize them to suffering) think about the 9.000 pets destroyed per day in shelters in the U.S. If you haven't guessed, I am a spay and neuter activist and if I see a dog or cat that is not "fixed" wandering around, I WILL take it, spay or neuter it, and find it a new home. It might be a purebred but if you don't value it enough to treat it responsibly, you shouldn't have a pet.
 
Bill Bradbury
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I'm not a big fan of "fixing" animals. I like to live and let others live as naturally as possible, but there is a serious problem with unwanted pets in our area. I am the volunteer handyman who keeps the local no-kill shelter running, so I see it up close. It pains me to see these beautiful creatures locked up for no crime other than no human wants them. I made a short photo montage of dogs at the shelter I take care of that I think shows a little slice of the problem. The real problem lies with the people, but spay/neuter programs can help to reduce the shear volume of unwanted pets that we see.
 
Kat Green
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I would like to clarify the difference between a breeder and a puppy mill as well as a rescuer and a hoarder.

A breeder does not keep his animals in cages. The animals are integrated into the household. He shows his animals at dog and cat shows and breeds only the winners and uses his knowledge of genetic lineage to match parents for the best outcome. He is a professional. Therefore, if you want a dog like your last dog, go to the professional.

It is very unlikely that a mixed breed dog is inbred because mixed breed pairing is not planned. Breeders do use line-breeding (breeding DISTANTLY related dogs to increase the likelihood of desired traits).

A puppy mill owner is exactly the opposite. He keeps pets in filthy cages and gives them a short life of suffering and disposes of them in secret horrific ways when they can no longer make him money.

A rescuer obtains pets who are homeless, unwanted, sick etc. out of compassion. The rescuer always spays or neuters and sees to the medical needs of the pet and then seeks to rehome the pet. Since in many instances, a responsible owner cant be found, he keeps the pet. This is how he ends up with many more pets than society thinks is appropriate. He is NOT the person who is responsible for wandering, hungry, sick pets in your neighborhood. He is the one taking care of your wandering, hungry, sick pets that you have abandoned. You should thank him, not persecute him for being the kind person that we should all strive to be. A rescuer knows his limits and will stop taking in pets when he reaches it.

A hoarder is a mentally unwell person who needs help. He doesn't know when to stop taking in pets he finds on the street or sees someone giving away. He will think he is the better owner so does not make an effort to rehome. He doesn't spay or neuter and is joyful when he finds a new litter even though he has no money to feed and care for the ones he has. He is obsessive when it comes too taking ownership even if it is your well cared for dog in your fenced yard. He does not take care of his own hygiene or that of his animals.
 
C. Hunter
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Kat Green wrote:
A breeder does not keep his animals in cages. The animals are integrated into the household. He shows his animals at dog and cat shows and breeds only the winners and uses his knowledge of genetic lineage to match parents for the best outcome. He is a professional. Therefore, if you want a dog like your last dog, go to the professional.



I agree with many of Kat's points, but this one, no. For the purposes of a useful farm dog, the vast majority of breeders will NOT show. They may trial in herding or sports for fun, but the conformation ring has never done a damn bit of good to any working breed as far as the purpose for which those breeds are intended. People wanting a working farm dog should note that ABC and ESR, the parent clubs for the border collie and English Shepherd both ACTIVELY DISCOURAGE (to the point of removing registration) dogs which are exhibited in conformation vs those who are selected for breeding based on working ability. There are individual lovely working dogs from conformation breeding programs- I've owned several myself- but those dogs were a byproduct, not the goal of the breeder, and the breeders did not honestly know enough about the breed as a working individual to give a true evaluation of those things. And neither of those dogs was truly in the same league as the workingbred dogs, either, although they worked as hard as they were able. If the dog is truly NECESSARY for work instead of just being a companion, you are well served to find a breeder whose parent dog (or dogs- the good ones frequently won't own both mom and dad, although it does happen occasionally) is doing work that is as close to the work you want done by your future dog. If the dog is going to be a companion who also chases off deer and catches the occasional rodent, keeps you company at the farm stand and barks when someone comes up the driveway- you've got a LOT more leeway.

I'd also warn against lumping purebred dogs and cats together. The issues involved in breeding them are very, very different, and there are things that are good and normal in one that would be a HUGE red flag in the other.
 
Dan Boone
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We live on a rural road where people from nearby towns tend to dump their unwanted animals. We feel we "need" one to three dogs for companionship and security; currently we have six, and we've had as many as eight. That's because we end up rescuing the dumped dogs when they show up at our place injured, starving, or ridden with parasites.

Money permitting, we get *everybody* spayed or neutered, simply because we don't have the resources to deal with an unexpected litter of puppies. On a few occasions as a dog's merits become manifest we've regretted that we can't breed him or her, but it's always a passing regret as we realize that we aren't ever going to want a bunch of puppies no matter how wonderful they might be.
 
Rebecca Norman
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Hey, can somebody point me towards some do-it-yourself instructions that are safe for the animal? Vets here in rural Indian are for farm animals and the idea of treating pet cats or dogs is a little odd. Maybe possible, but I'm not really sure. I've taken our cats to some foreign volunteer vets in the past, but they only come around in summer.

There's a huge feral dog problem in this region, and the local Buddhist majority population will not allow government plans to poison them. There are privately organized efforts to catch, sterilize and release them back to the same place, but it's not making a dent after several years. It's really horrible. There are bite cases in the local hospital daily, and there have been two tragic attacks on children -- one fatal, one maiming. thankfully, no rabies. One high Buddhist lama earlier this year made a huge public relations splash by declaring that he would build a dog sanctuary and take them all, but of course after the first 300 dogs they closed their doors and said they were full.

We like to keep about three or four cats at our school. There's no problem acquiring them -- they just show up, or else we get a kitten from somebody. The males tend to disappear as they reach adulthood -- are they being eaten by feral dogs, or are they wandering off? We have a spayed former mom, who was spayed by the foreign volunteer vets a few years ago. And now we've got a lovely young tom, but I don't want to lose him.

 
Kat Green
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For Rebecca: If you can get the tom cat neutered, you have a better chance of keeping him around since neutered males usually don't wander. It also takes a lot of luck in order for him to learn about hazards to his survival. He may follow the lead of the spayed female.

Only if desparate, (and I really hesitate on this) they use banding on very young male goats but must be very careful to watch and protect from infection. It is momentarily painful but the alternative is worse (overpopulation). I have seen it done to a baby goat and once on a farm puppy and his discomfort was over it in seconds. If a dog or cat was young and less developed and could be given something for pain and the human was diligent about follow-up care, it would be better than the axe that some people use now. My own still go to the vet.

Regarding my post on dog shows, in my mind, I include field trials as a dog show. There are cat shows also so I don't see a difference.

Regarding comments from some of you here about keeping dogs natural: There is no evidence that working dogs are better if they are whole and no evidence that there is any increase in health issues. There is plenty of evidence to the contrary. I notice that you don't seem to make the same claim for females. That would indicate that you are of the opinion that females have no rights and are themselves to blame for unplanned pregnancy and the males are allowed to have a good time and bear no responsibility! Its interesting that you are applying human attributes to dogs and cats. If they had human rights to choose, I bet those females would want to be spayed. Then those working dogs could concentrate on work. It is not sex drive that makes a good herding dog. It is talent.
 
C. Hunter
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Because of their structure, cats can't generally be safely banded- their testicles are too 'tucked in' to the body and you can't get a clean compression of the .... I have forgotten the name of the tube. (Vas deferens?) without a very high risk of necrosis.

I believe zeuterin (an injectible sterilization agent) is currently used on cats- it has to be injected into the testes but has no pain afterwards and no infection risk- I think seeing if that is availble would be a much safer course.
 
Rebecca Norman
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Thank you, I'll try to find out about that injectable. Yes, I suspected that banding wasn't right for cats, since you never hear of it.
 
elle sagenev
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At one point in time we had 6 dogs. We have neutered all but 1. We are down to 3 still. The intact male is still in residence. When he dies we will get another intact male. I think having an intact male around helps with predators. I neuter the rest because it helps with a few things, imo.
 
elle sagenev
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Kat Green wrote:YES, YES, YES!!! I live in a rural area and there is an overpopulation of pets and working dogs too. If you are rural and don't have enough just ask. Animal Control here will be glad to fly some to you. Desexing does not reduce their drive and does reduce health risks which any vet will confirm. I had a spayed dog who walked through fire to save my life. She was a pound puppy. A spayed or neutered animal can focus on the job without distraction of other dogs. As for saving the gene pool...I have worked for breeders and if they are very lucky, they may get 2 dogs out of every 15 produced that will have the desired characteristics. The rest of the litter just adds to the overpopulation by taking places in homes that could have been for a rescued pet. Unfortunately, puppy mills do exist an are horrific but the individuals who have one or two dogs are adding even more to the overpopulation than the puppy mills. They breed their dog to a neighbors of the same breed to make $ without knowing what genes are being combined. In my many years of experience, this has led to the current "most popular breed"'s demise. I have encountered vicious Saint Bernards, blind Mastiffs, timid Retrievers, neurotic poodles, Chihuahua with severe joint issues and currently, the pit bulls who are adding their bad side to the mix breed gene pool. Did you know that one cat can produce 10,000 kittens and grand kittens in her life time? Sustainability?? Mr Jefferies, do you really think you can just say no? The dogs and cats don't understand you. They only understand natures call to reproduce. If you have an unsprayed female, the boys will come to call. Some of you macho types think it is wrong to neuter your male but I have seen that they can still do it if a girl is handy. They wont go wandering (hit by cars, shot, lost, or "quickly dispatched " per Jay Green's post) to find it. For those of you who want to let your female have the experience of having a litter (i.e. raped, have her body torn apart 5 or more times in sequence to deliver, love her babies only to have them disappear at the hands of the owners she trusted, sicken your children by having them watch and desensitize them to suffering) think about the 9.000 pets destroyed per day in shelters in the U.S. If you haven't guessed, I am a spay and neuter activist and if I see a dog or cat that is not "fixed" wandering around, I WILL take it, spay or neuter it, and find it a new home. It might be a purebred but if you don't value it enough to treat it responsibly, you shouldn't have a pet.


I must say my great pyr (intact) has never been too distracted to do his job. As our only intact dog he is also the only one who fulfills his designated role in the family. Our akbash is neutered and he's a cuddle bucket. Absolute lover. Wouldn't attack anything. Afraid of kittens for God's sake.

Also, as a woman who has had kids your description of it is rather.................................................................................................................................

You could try to take my pyr but I'd suggest you wear one of those training suits. He doesn't take nicely to strangers. I'm sure you like both of your arms.

Makes me wonder if you eat meat. My kids have seen animals killed and processed. I'm sure they'll somehow survive with their little minds intact. Either that or watch out for my psycho kids.
 
Penny Dumelie
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I think overall, it's better to leave them as nature made them, but like permaculture, it all depends on the situation and location.

I would fix an outdoor farm dog that could be lured by coyotes or wolves. They are less likely to be lured when their sexual instincts aren't yelling in their brain.

I never found a reason to fix a barn cat. They are mostly wild and take care of themselves. Nature takes care of the numbers (distemper occasionally, predators usually).

In town, cats should never be running around outside wild anymore than dogs should be.
It's irresponsible pet ownership.

I find the problem usually isn't so much the pets (fixed or not), as the owners.
 
Alder Burns
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We used to neuter tomcats ourselves on the farm by wrapping tightly in a burlap sack, with the hind end free, having a helper hold this by sitting on it loosely and holding the back legs apart, while a second person uses a razor blade or some such to make 2 small slits, pop out the balls, and cut off. Turn cat loose, he runs off, licks himself and in an hour you can't tell anything has happened.
One time I helped do three very large dogs....great pyrenees I think. Using good stout rope, we first muzzled them, then tied their legs together, front legs and then back legs, laid them down and stretched the tied legs between two trees. Animal was basically immobilized. Then same procedure as for the cats. Then untie. Once again, in a few hours, seemingly no impact whatsoever....and no bill, either.
When I lived in Bangladesh, you could get injectable birth control stuff. "Depo Provera" I think it was called. So the nurse among us would parse out a dose for the female cat, based on the weight compared to that of a woman. It worked for several years, until the cat decided to be in absentia for so long that it came back pregnant anyway, having missed a shot.
 
Bethany Dutch
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Location: Colville, WA Zone 5b
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It's interesting to me that some of you don't consider spaying/neutering a good thing in the case of cats or dogs. Perhaps it's because I don't intend to have only animals and livestock that are super stellar and quality enough to breed, but there are very common, real and practical reasons to "fix" animals not including cats/dogs, but also horses, goats, cattle, etc. Maybe not so much the females in those cases, but it's also a matter of practicality.

Each animal, to me, is defined by how we use them or live with them. My dog is fixed, because at the rate she'd naturally reproduce, I'd be run out of my home very quickly. My farmstead needs about 2 more dogs, but no more than that, and those 2-3 dogs will last me for the next ten years. If she wasn't fixed, she'd eventually go into heat, and I'd have intact male dogs showing up from out of nowhere. So if I let her reproduce, I'd be in a position where I'd need to be selling these puppies. She's an American Bulldog, so not even an LGD, so most likely her offspring would be pets. It makes absolutely no sense at all for me to NOT have her fixed. People give dogs away for free or cheap all the time.

Let's pretend I had goats. Goats have a couple of babies a year. Most often, the boys are fixed and the girls are kept unfixed for good reasons. If I have female goats and they go into heat, it's highly unlikely that I'll have a bunch of feral wild goat bucks showing up. Could happen, but unlikely. Usually, what people do, is they keep the girls, sell any female offspring (which then get kept for milk or meat offspring) and the wethers get turned into meat or become pets. All of their offspring gets used, in some way.

Horses? Cows? Pigs? All pretty much the same. Males get fixed 90% of the time, for very practical reasons. Why would it be better to keep cats/dogs intact? Even with cats... although I guess for me I'd prefer an older and more experienced mouser, therefore I want to extend the life of my existing cats which means fixing them so they are less likely to wander.

It just doesn't make sense to me, to not fix an animal, unless you are breeding for the betterment of the breed.

OR, in other words, dogs/cats don't actually produce anything. Goats/cattle/sheet/pigs/etc produce something (fibers or food of some sort, usually) While cats/dogs provide a very important, valuable service, their offspring (unless like I said, you have top quality breeding stock) is not actually an important, valuable product. It makes no logical practical sense to allow them to reproduce, at least for 90% of the dogs/cats out there.
 
Jennifer Richardson
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When I was in the city for university, I adopted from the humane society & had each cat spayed/neutered. These were indoor cats that occasionally roamed, and they were pets, and they were overpopulated. Luckily our city was no-kill, but in many locations animals are euthanized simply because they can't be placed. I think it is irresponsible not to spay/neuter under such circumstances.

On the ranch, often we will allow a particularly good dog to have a litter of pups (especially if we have another good dog to breed with her, or a neighbor does) and then spay her afterwards because we don't want endless litters. Good, useful dogs for guarding, hunting, and herding are valued here, so on the rare occasions we do breed, we can always sell/give away the rest of the pups to good homes. I would not breed them purely for money, but a financial yield from any animal on a ranch/farm is always a plus. Female cats we pretty much always spay, since there will always be someone trying to give away free kittens, and genetics don't matter as much as with dogs (because cats generally aren't specialized for hunting, herding, guarding, etc. and because an unstable or vicious cat is not as much danger as a bad dog). Our dogs are generally mixed breeds, but they're not just random mixes, they're selected for particular qualities. We rarely neuter male animals unless there's a particular reason.

We have not had good luck with rescue dogs from the city on the ranch. Too much unpredictability--they are far more likely to kill chickens, chase cows, be temperamental, or just not be very good at doing what we want them to do. We would much rather buy a dog from a neighbor who breeds them occasionally or raise a litter of our own occasionally, so that we know the parents and how they were raised/trained. Occasionally you get a dud, but results are consistently better.
 
Minka Bug
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I fully support spay/neutering for domesticated cats and dogs for ONE reason alone, that is, there are SO many cats and dogs living lives of misery in shelters and on the streets. There is no good reason for allowing one more cat or dog be born for the time being.
 
Melissa Nicole
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All of mine, 5 dogs and 4 cats, have been altered. I find everything goes much smoother when I don't have to deal with thier hormones. I don't find that it lessens thier guarding drive one bit.
 
R Hasting
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Chris Kott wrote:I disagree with neutering/spaying in a permacultural context, because in my opinion if you need to spay/neuter in your system to maintain balance, you need to reevaluate your system. I think it's a practice that demands constant inputs and indicates inappropriate design choices.



I just think that the whole spay/neuter campaign thing is insufficient, as bourne out by the fact that the same message has been repeated for decades, and the situation hasn't gotten any better. Maybe we need better trade relations with North Korea (I'm sorry, I just couldn't end without a dog eating joke).

-CK


Chris, The system is out of whack because we feed the dogs and cats, and they live much longer than they would in the wild. They do not need to compete in the wild, and so there is no natural selection taking place. The selection requires our intervention because we intervened in the first place.
In much the same way that it would be good practice to band the male salves (or sheep or goats) that you don't want breeding, since the wolves (hopefully) are not doing the population reduction part, we have to play the part of mother nature here. That is part of the equation.

Now, if you didn't feed your dogs, and you allowed 3/4 of them to starve in the winter, then you have my attention and admiration for doing it the natural way. But as long as you provide an artificial environment, you must place artificial controls. Anything less is irresponsible to the animals in your charge.

Please fix the animals that you do not want to breed, and breed the ones that have the best confirmation and instincts for the job, in order to improve that breed.
But just because a DOG is intact does not make the owner more manly. Just saying..
For the record, I got fixed a 14 years ago after I was finished breeding. I don't mind it one bit.

Richard
 
Bill Flicks
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I neutered my male(I keep a M and F of the same breed).

His instincts and inclinations don't seem out of kilter, he didn't become overweight and if another dog comes around, he stands his ground(hers too).

On the 'permaculture' note- if we humans are responsible for the countless generations of breeding/inbreeding and manipulation of characteristics in these animals to get the traits we want... how are they really 'natural' at all?

I just can't see a minpin and a schitzu doing battle over a wild bologna plant on the side of the road.
 
Nic Foro
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The vast majority of people that follow spay and neuter religiously tend to be the same people who will not, or can not think for themselves. The same people who will blindly follow any cause and defend it to the bitter end because they were told to do so. That said, the statement doesn't apply very much to people here on Permies because I see many people do in fact think. My current shepherd mix was neutered at a very young age and its painfully obvious. He was supposed to be intact and a whole dog but the rescue didn't seem to understand what that meant and fudged his adoption listing. They were also dishonest about a lot of things and because of that, its likely the last time I rescue. I'm personally very vehemently against neutering any animal, I think its cruel to the animal, absolutely unnecessary, undermining and dodging the responsibility of pet ownership. Not wanting to deal with hormones is a backwards and invalid excuse. There is absolutely no good medical reason to neuter dogs en-mass and the people who do it in the name of the insignificant chance of getting cancer only open them up to many more issues, especially if done at a young age. Its illegal to neuter a dog in Norway outside of medical necessity - ex cancer - and they do not have an over population problem and this alone shows its a people problem.

There are solutions other than neutering if you own both male and female, vasectomy comes to mind. A good number of sex chasing men have them done because it is reversible and eliminates women from claiming you owe child support on unwanted pregnancies. However the ability to produce viable sperm is reduced the longer the operation is in place, its also unlikely to be covered by insurance so you pay out of pocket, its not cheap. Having the discipline to keep dogs separated in heat cycles, at least wear a diaper, or have the common sense to not keep intact males and females in the same household is another option. Options are always available, we live in a world filled with choice.

Goats are the only instance I would advocate neutering, they will quickly overwhelm you if you aren't eating them.

Here is a short and sweet white paper on the effects of neutering dogs.
http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.therio.org/resource/resmgr/docs/spay-neuter_basis.pdf

Ultimately this is a personal choice for everyone, as it should be. However it shouldn't be chalked up as the "moral", "right" or "responsible" choice, nor should people be lied to en-mass in order to sway their opinions.

Always question everything you think you know.
 
Sonya Noum
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Interesting post. I'm a townie, so "naturally" I'm for spaying and neutering cats and dogs 100%, and for neutering and spaying and releasing feral cats.

But it's interesting to hear people's views, especially rural people. Most of them appeal, at least in part, to my intelligence which I attribute to them coming from "thinking" permie people.
I hear the arguments for breeding working dogs, and I can understand that farmers may not wish to spend their time spaying and neutering barn cats, especially as they tend to live in families.

I don't think anyone's reminded us up to now that what used to pass for "races" up until very recently (19C?) were not bred for traits like length of ears or noses or any of that rubbish, untill we invented lapdogs, and "pets". They were bred for their capacity to do a certain job. That is the only valid reason or logic I can see for breeding dogs today. Lets be done with all breeding except breeding working dogs and just use the excess puppies from that to supply pets to the rest of us.

Just one quote (I'm not singling you out Penny it's just that the views you seem to be expressng seem to be quite representative)

[quote=Penny Dumelie]I think overall, it's better to leave them as nature made them [/quote]

But nature did not make either cats or dogs. We did. Nature made wolves, and nature made a wild middle-eastern cat. We did the rest.

We humans have not yet dealt with our own reproduction problems and so, unlike wild species which maintain their populations we have overpopulated the planet (despite inbuilt solutions in some traditional societies and modern contraception). But despite our excessive numbers we are not numerous enough to provide homes, either as pets or as working cats and dogs, to the offspring of the creatures we created.

[quote=Penny Dumelie]In town, cats should never be running around outside wild anymore than dogs should be [/quote]

Do you mean unspayed and un-neutered cats ?
In my opinion, cats live outside, that's what they do. That's what they enjoy. Shutting them up is akin to caging them, or never walking a town dog. That's how they catch rodents, which is what our partnership was always about. And yes, there are rodents in towns. And we don't all live in flats (appartments). We have gardens, permaculture gardens, and town farms, and edible landscapes, and parks, and other green spaces. Cats are pets for a very short part of their day. Dogs are pets, or working partners for 100% of their time (at least in North Amercia and Northern Europe). Cats need to be outside, they need to patrol. That's why they need to be spayed and neutered. The ones that would get through the net despite our best efforts would be enough to maintain the cat population.
But of course many cats do not have "owners", responsible or not. There are millions of feral cats out there, most of them the offspring of parents who are themselves feral, some from unwanted litters or escaped from humans who weren't treating them properly. Maybe some of them even wandered in from the country.
 
Penny Dumelie
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We may have create domesticated animals but they still are naturally born with a reproductive system.
That's how nature intends them to be. If this was not the case, they would have evolved to a state where they rarely can reproduce.

In town, there are other considerations than what "cats do".
In town, it is irresponsible to allow a cat to roam freely.
I'm not saying they should be kept locked up and never see the sky, but they should not roam freely.
This is a danger to the cat and horribly inconsiderate of the neighborhood.

As a cat owner, a person has no idea what their cat is doing when it's out of sight.
It might be stalking rodents... it might also be getting into garbage put out by someone else, or it might be using someone else's garden as a litter box.
It is unsafe for that cat because of what it might get into, the yards it will free range in, unwelcoming neighbors, and dogs loose in their own yards (or just loose).

Town cats can be walked on a leash or the owner can give it access to a cat run, just as owners are required to do with dogs.
It is never okay to let your pet infringe on someone else or be an irresponsible cat owner, just because "that's what cats do."
We created them, it's up to us to monitor their actions.
 
Rebecca Norman
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Nic Foro wrote:The vast majority of people that follow spay and neuter religiously tend to be the same people who will not, or can not think for themselves.

I think that's a bit too harsh.

Here in India, there is a real and serious problem with overpopulation of feral dogs. In my region, two years ago a woman was killed and partially eaten in broad daylight, by feral dogs. Yes, really. I saw the pictures, and I know many people from the village where it happened. Within the past five years two children have been attacked by dogs within 8 km of where I live here. One child was killed. One was maimed. I know the one who was maimed. He's 9 now and he doesn't speak. He doesn't take his hat off, either, because he was partially scalped and has bad scarring.

I can't imagine how Norway could have brought the population of dogs under control without first either sterilizing or culling most of the feral dogs, and getting some adopted by humans.

Maybe I'm missing some obvious fact, some method that the dog population can be controlled. Here in Ladakh, the Buddhist population will make public outcries when the government does a big culling, but finally since the killings, in the past couple of years, various governmental and non-governmental bodies have really made a serious effort to catch, sterilize and release all the feral dogs, and it does feel safer now, fewer feral dogs in evidence, and less aggressive barking all night from them. If there were another effective method we'd love to know about it here.
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Absolutely not. If I'm not responsible enough to manage the animal and prevent unintended breeding then clearly I'm not responsible enough to have them.

I'd never mutilate a living creature that way.
 
Clare Marmalejo
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There is also such a thing is delayed neutering that no one has brought up with regard to dogs. We have a rottie-mix and when I took him to my vet she told me to wait until he was 1 year old to neuter him. I ended up doing a lot of research and I am now waiting even longer. I have always been a spay/neuter proponent, but if you look at the research now being found, medium and large breed dogs are at risk for a lot of health problems of being fixed too early (before 2 years). Apparently because they don't go through the entire cycle of growth hormones they end up having greater risks of bone cancer and other issues.

Here is an article that sums it up well: http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/spay-neuter-and-joint-disease/

There are better more scientific analysis' to be found if you look harder. I was initially worried about having an intact male dog because we have always spayed/neutered our dogs early on. He has no dominance issues with my kids and is really docile and sweet. He has no wandering issues but he isn't left in our yard alone.

Everyone has to make the best decisions for their pets. We wouldn't have the diversity of dogs we have now if they hadn't been bred for specific jobs. We shouldn't blame or hold accountable the responsible owners and breeders for the terrible dog owners and puppy mills out there.
 
Su Ba
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Just from the veterinary medicine and animal welfare aspects, I have plenty of reasons for myself to be supporting the neutering of excess dogs and cats. But many have already been covered in this discussion, thus I won't repeat. But let it be known that there are many health and mental issues that can be avoided or improved with neutering that haven't been mentioned yet. I have seen cases where neutering was a good decision.

But I'd like to propose looking at this from a permaculture viewpoint. We observe nature, then live a life which emulates nature to a certain degree so that our lifestyle is sustainable without harming our environment. It's a blending or a "dance" between one's living style and nature.

Some points I've pondered--
...Most people do not live a sustainable lifestyle. Their actions harm the environment, themselves, and others' lives around them-- including animals. In regards to this discussion, dogs and cats have been allowed to reproduce to the point of harming their environment. Their population is not sustainable without resulting in damage of some sort. Of course not all dog/cat owners are irresponsible, but sadly, a great number are today or have been in the past. We are now faced with dealing with the damage.
...Permaculture advocates tend to take a situation that is damaged and work to bring it back to balance. Be it a piece of land that is suffering desertification, crop varieties that have been overly selectively bred, livestock reared in unnatural conditions, the over proliferation of crop eating insects, abused soil. Permaculturists engage in methods to repair Mother Nature and bring things into a cooperative balance. Personally I view the overpopulation of dogs and cats to be in this same category - out of control, over propagation, out of balance for sustainability.
...Permaculturists tend to aim for being good stewards of their land, resources, their crops, their livestock, the wildlife. On a permaculture farm I would not expect to see over grazing of the pastures, mono cropping, nor uncontrolled over reproduction of livestock, be they chickens, pigs, cats, or dogs.
...During the practice and implementation of permaculture practices, one thing become fairly evident to me early on. What is a solution for one person may not be the best solution for another. For example, grass clippings mulch works wonderfully for me on my farm. It may be a poor choice for other people. Extrapolating this reasoning to the spay/neuter issue, neutering the dogs and cats in one's region might be an excellent solution to the problem of irresponsible pet ownership and feral animals. But in situations of responsible owners plus no overpopulation of dogs and cats, then forcing neutering is not the step to take.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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