February 6, 2024

By: Sarah A. Neikam, CAWA

The month of February is often symbolized by hearts and expressions of love; but there is another, less discussed celebration of care and responsibility — Spay/Neuter Awareness Month. This month is dedicated to educating pet owners and communities about the significant benefits of spaying and neutering pets, an essential step towards ensuring their health and contributing positively to the animal welfare landscape.

Spaying and neutering, the surgical procedures to prevent pets from reproducing, go beyond controlling the pet population. They represent a commitment to the well-being of our pets and the community. These procedures have far-reaching benefits that extend to health and behavior improvements as well as community welfare.

For female pets, spaying before their first heat cycle significantly reduces the risk of mammary cancer, a common ailment in unspayed females. It also eliminates the possibility of life-threatening uterine infections. For male pets, neutering prevents testicular cancer and reduces the risk of prostate issues.

Additionally, pets that are spayed or neutered tend to have a longer life expectancy. The removal of certain reproductive hormones can lead to a healthier, more balanced life, free from the complications and risks associated with breeding.

From a behavioral perspective, neutered males are less likely to exhibit aggressive behaviors or engage in territorial marking, making them more amiable companions. Similarly, spayed females are relieved from the stresses of heat cycles, which can often lead to anxious behaviors and attempts to escape home in search of a mate.

The overpopulation of pets is a critical issue faced by communities worldwide. Each year, millions of unwanted animals end up in shelters, many of which are euthanized due to lack of space and resources. Spaying and neutering directly address this issue by preventing unwanted litters, thus reducing the number of animals that end up homeless or in shelters.

At the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare, the core of our mission revolves around addressing pet overpopulation and promoting responsible pet ownership. Our Veterinary Care Center helps us achieve this mission by offering affordable spay/neuter services. By choosing our services, pet owners not only ensure good healthcare for their pets but also support a cause that extends far beyond individual pet health — they contribute to a community where every animal is valued and cared for.

While spaying and neutering your pets is a crucial step, there are many other ways you can contribute to this cause during Spay/Neuter Awareness Month:

Educate and Advocate: Use your voice to educate others. Share information, stories, and facts about the importance of these procedures. Advocacy can be as simple as a conversation with a friend or as vast as an online campaign. Social media is a powerful tool for raising awareness. Share posts, use relevant hashtags, and encourage others to participate in the conversation about spay/neuter awareness.

Participate in TNR Programs: For feral and community cats, Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs are vital. These humane programs manage and care for feral cat populations, improving their quality of life and preventing overpopulation.

Support Shelters and Rescues: Shelters and rescue organizations are on the front lines of the pet overpopulation crisis. Consider donating, volunteering, or fostering pets to support these vital community resources.

As we celebrate love and affection in February, let’s also embrace our responsibility towards the animals that enrich our lives. Spaying and neutering are acts of love — they are about ensuring a quality life for our pets and contributing to a more humane society. Let’s use Spay/Neuter Awareness Month as a reminder of our role in creating a better world for all pets.

Sarah Neikam is the Marketing Director for the SPCA Albrecht Center in Aiken, SC. She has been with the organization since 2012, holding various roles including Volunteer Coordinator and Director of Operations & HR. A Certified Animal Welfare Administrator as of 2022, Sarah is a passionate advocate for animal welfare. She resides in Aiken with her husband, Tom, and their six cats.