Now that Valentine's Day is over, it's time to talk about a more serious February focus: Spay and Neuter Awareness. Earlier this month, Aiken City Council proclaimed February Spay and Neuter Awareness month, and February 23rd is World Spay Day. Here at the SPCA Albrecht Center, we're working on an awareness project and an event to highlight this very important cause.
Take a drive down Pine Long Road East this month and you'll see a display of dog signs, lots of them. We started with just two: Fluffy, the pink poodle and Blue, the floppy-eared hound. In an effort to demonstrate just how quickly two unaltered dogs can multiply, we added to their litter each day. By the end of the month, there will be around 80 dogs in the litter!
It may seem silly, but I promise you the demonstration is not an exaggeration. If left unaltered, a pair of dogs and their litters can produce 67,000 dogs in just six years. And a pair of unaltered cats and their litters can produce over 420,000 cats in just seven years. Thousands of animals, all needing homes.
Homeless cats and dogs are everywhere. In every town, in every state, and in every country. There are so many homeless pets that animal shelters simply do not have the space or resources to help them all. Even if every home in our country adopted a pet, there would still be millions more in need of a home.
Sadly, there is little to be done for the many stray or abandoned pets currently living without a home. If they are lucky, a loving person will find them, a shelter will rescue them, or at the very least, they will be humanely euthanized and never again suffer from hunger, sickness, bitter cold or stifling heat.
It is estimated that 2.4 million healthy and treatable cats and dogs are euthanized in our country every year. That's 2.4 million individual, unique pets. If you've ever loved a pet, you know that each of them is special. Like people, each animal has its own distinct personality, funny quirks, preferences, and some believe, its own individual soul.
Fortunately, there is an easy and effective solution to this heartbreaking problem. Spaying and neutering pets prevents unwanted litters, which means fewer pets in shelters and fewer pets facing euthanasia. Plus, there are other, immediate benefits to your pet when you spay or neuter.
Spaying or neutering your pet prevents many reproductive cancers and diseases, which means a longer, healthier life. Also, your female pet won't go into heat, which is often accompanied by behavior challenges, and your male pet will be less likely to roam away from home in search of a mate.
Seems simple, right? If spaying and neutering can save so many lives and is beneficial to your pet, everyone should do it! We agree. Unfortunately, not everyone who owns a pet is aware of the importance of spay and neuter, and others are aware but simply can't afford the surgery.
Awareness and education are a big part of our mission at the SPCA Albrecht Center. All of the hard work we put into saving pets, adoptions, training, veterinary services, and fundraising is to no avail if we don't provide the information and tools people need to be better guardians of their pets. You can help by spreading the word and sharing your experiences with your family, friends and neighbors.
As for affordability, that is also something we strive to offer our community. Our now full-service veterinary clinic offers affordable veterinary care for pets, including spay and neuter surgery. Vouchers are even available for qualifying city and county residents bringing the cost down to as little as $20.
On February 23rd, World Spay Day, we will once again host a Spayghetti Dinner, to raise funds for affordable spay and neuter surgeries, so we can help more people save more animals. Won't you join us? Tickets are just $8 in advance or $10 at the door.
Purchase tickets on our website at LetLoveLive.org/spayghetti, call 803-648-6863 or visit us at 199 Willow Run Road, in Aiken.
Not able to attend? Please consider a donation to our cause. Every little bit helps. Together, we can end the cycle of unintended litters and homeless pets.
Sarah Neikam is the Marketing Director for the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare. She is an Aiken native and has been with the SPCA since 2012. Sarah lives in Graniteville with her husband, Tom, mother, Cheryl and two adopted cats: Bastian and Luna.