There's Nothing Naughty About Spay/Neuter

By Jessica Burtch

March 2, 2015 4 min read

I'm into S&N.

50 Shades of Spay.

Castrado es caliente!

February 24 was World Spay Day, and we all had fun putting the sexy in something that is decidedly not. But despite its lack of sizzle, anyone who's ever set foot inside an animal shelter, or inside Mexico or any Central or South American country, or inside any Asian, African or Eastern European country, understands the importance of the practice.

Here in Southern California, you can't throw a Kong without hitting an animal rescue group — and still no fewer than 300,000 dogs and cats are killed in California shelters every year. While the euthanasia rate has dipped significantly in cities like Los Angeles, which has an organized no-kill agenda fueled by heavy hitters Best Friends Animal Society and the NKLA coalition, this dragon can't be slayed until everyone gets on board with spay/neuter.

The single most important thing you can do as an animal lover is spay or neuter your dog or cat — and even those dogs and cats who aren't yours.

I know nothing about cats, but I learned a little about the practice of Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) when I called Stray Cat Alliance a few years back to report a large feral cat colony at an abandoned apartment complex. They were familiar with the colony and said, "Thanks so much for caring. Would you like to TNR?"

Hmmm, sounds kinky. "Um, sure?"

And so I spent the next month getting up at 3 a.m., grabbing my "TNR kit" — flashlight, fleece, gloves, trash bags, smelly cat food — and heading over to the ghostplex to check and reset traps. While I personally never trapped a cat, I did trap a possum, who had to be cut loose in the dead of night because he got his jaws stuck on the cage. Poor guy played dead for two hours while we fought with wire cutters to get him out.

While TNR is not a perfect methodology, we eventually trapped and fixed every cat in that complex. TNR isn't about finding homes for homeless cats; it's about keeping self-sufficient cat colonies healthy and preventing them from breeding out of control.

Here are some indisputable facts about the benefits of spay/neuter:

—There are big-time health benefits. Spaying prevents breast cancer and uterine infections in female dogs and cats, and neutering male dogs and cats can prevent testicular cancer, especially if done before 6 months of age.

—Your female cat won't go into heat, and male dogs and cats won't roam. In both cases, it means less marking, less aggression, less time dragging the neighborhood and less of a chance your dog or cat will get hit by a car.

—Spay/neuter is the mother of all WMDs when it comes to fighting dog and cat overpopulation. More than two million animals are killed in American shelters every year. Spay/neuter is the only way to bring that number to zero.

When I was in Costa Rica earlier this year, I came across a little dog who needed a lot of help. Who did I turn to? Google. What did I find? A single free spay-neuter clinic that had taken place two years prior. It's a start, but in a relatively poor country brimming with "community" dogs, it's not enough.

Here in the U.S., cost and access are no excuse. Free or low-cost spay/neuter clinics are practically the norm, and many cities big and small even boast mobile spay/neuter clinics that will come to you. Once we've put the snip to our own dogs and cats, the next step is to put the sizzle in spay/neuter and spread the word of just how easy, affordable and beneficial it really is.

Jessica Burtch was the longtime editor and writer for Matthew "Uncle Matty" Margolis. She is an even longer-time lover of dogs and critters in general. Follow her @sicaleigh. Email her at [email protected] Read more at

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