Friday, May 11, 2007

Support for Mandatory Spay and Neuter of Cats and Dogs

The following letter supporting AB 1634 is from Paula Kislak, DVM and President of The Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights:

The Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights is a California-based organization which represents 3,000 veterinarians. It is on behalf of our veterinary members, that I submit this statement in support of mandatory sterilization of cats and dogs and offer the expertise and resources of our organization to help achieve this goal.

There are many reasons to support the sterilization of cats and dogs, foremost among them are the health benefits to the individual animal. Sterilization reduces or eliminates the chance of developing several serious medical conditions that occur commonly in the unsterilized population. These include mammary carcinoma (breast cancer) and pyometra (uterine infection) in female animals and testicular neoplasia and prostate disease in males. Additionally, animals who are sterilized have reduced incidence of aggression, urine spraying and marking, wandering, and fighting. These behaviors result in transmission of venereal and infectious diseases (ex. feline AIDS) and are the most common reasons for abandonment of animals and euthanasia at our shelters. Avoiding these behavioral issues through sterilization will significantly improve longevity and quality of life for the animal and his or her family.

AVAR supports early-age sterilization, as well. This refers to the practice of surgically sterilizing cats and dogs between 6-16 weeks of age, prior to the onset of puberty. Early-age sterilization has been performed safely for decades at shelters and in private veterinary clinics throughout North America. The surgery is faster and recovery from anesthesia more rapid in the pediatric patient. And, along with the long-term health benefits mentioned above, pre-pubertal sterilization avoids pregnancies at an early age (potentially occurring as early as four months) which is stressful on young animals.

The positive impact of sterilizing cats and dogs also extends to the animal population as a whole and, in fact, the entire community. It is the most effective way to reduce the number of litters born and the resulting influx of animals into our shelters. This saves millions of taxpayer dollars needed to feed, house, euthanize and dispose of many hundreds of thousands of animals every year in our state.

Although California law already requires that animals adopted from shelters and humane societies be sterilized, there are many individuals throughout the state who are breeding their animals irresponsibly, thereby contributing to the overpopulation crisis and negatively impacting our streets and shelters. Requiring that all animals be spayed and neutered, with limited medical exemptions, will reduce the taxpayer burden for collecting and sheltering unwanted animals and the shame of killing so many cats and dogs in California.

Thank you for your willingness to address this tragic situation by considering this proactive and farsighted legislative opportunity. Again, I offer the expertise and resources of our veterinary association and please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of assistance.

Paula Kislak, DVM