Animal loverslovers are encouraging pet owners to observe Spay Day on Tuesday.
Linda Watrak's rural Leavenworth County home has become a haven for the furry forgotten and cast aside.
Watrak has adopted seven cats and five dogs that people have either dumped near her home or taken to shelters. But there's only so many pets she and other animal lovers can save.
That's why the Lawrence Humane Society volunteer is urging area pet owners to participate in the official Spay Day on Tuesday. The day is part of a national effort to get animal owners to have their pets spayed or neutered to prevent some of the 12 million dogs and cats who are euthanized in shelters each year. Watrak hopes the day will serve as a reminder to pet owners to make the call to get their pet spayed or neutered.
"People don't realize what an epidemic this is," said Watrak. "It breaks your heart to know how many animals are put to sleep, but what really breaks your heart is that it could be so easily prevented. In this particular war, one person can really make a difference."
More than just preventing the birth of unwanted animals, local veterinarians say spaying or neutering a pet can prolong its life.
Gary Olson, a veterinarian at Clinton Parkway Animal Hospital, said unspayed female animals are more likely to suffer from fatal breast cancer or uterus infections later in life. Olson said unneutered males are more likely to have prostate problems in late life or roam and expose themselves to fights, cars and other dangers.
"When people adopt a pet they take on the responsibility of doing everything they can to maintain the pet's health," Olson said. "That includes regular exams, good shelter and nutrition and preventative medicine. One of the best means of preventive medicine is to have your pet spayed or neutered."
Olson said the costs of spaying and neutering vary from veterinarian to veterinarian, but any cost rises as a pet grows older and larger. Olson said the average costs of sterilizing a pet who is 6 to 12-months-old are:
- $60 to $80 to spay a cat
- $35 to $45 to neuter a cat
- $60 to $90 to spay a dog
- $55 to $75 to neuter a dog.
About 60 percent of dogs entering U.S. animal shelters are killed.
About 75 percentof cats entering U.S. animal shelters are killed.
One unspayed cat and her offspring can produce 420,000 cats in seven years.
One unspayed dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 puppies in six years.
Only about 30 percentof the 5,000 animals taken to the Lawrence Humane Society Shelter are adopted.