Let’s talk about neutering.
I have a pet dog named Genie, who’s an Indian mongrel. Picked up by a friend after a highway accident, Genie came home and turned our lives upside down. Now, everything revolves around him and every decision is taken keeping Genie in mind.
A couple of months ago, I decided it was time to get Genie neutered. He was six months then, and his aggression was growing. We could see the hormonal changes in him and it was getting difficult to manage his behavior. Having aging parents, I decided neutering him would make it easier to be with him.
When I shared this with a few of my close and beloved ones, the opposition was super high. Nearly everyone I knew opposed the idea of getting Genie neutered. What about his life? His natural needs? His family? Do note, we had already decided that we wouldn’t be mating Genie due to local rules of breeding Indian Mongrels in Bangalore. So why was everyone opposing my decision to get him neutered? Why it is so unacceptable?
I was beaten and confused, and also emotionally down. I felt I was doing something terrible to the one soul I absolutely loved. And then – I saw Instagram posts of Praneetha Monipi raising her voice on how important it is to neuter your pets. It felt like a silver lining, and I grasped it with everything I had. I spoke to her and decided that this is something everyone needs to hear. I’ve jotted down the excerpts of the conversation I had, and here it is!
Okay, let’s hear it! Why is it important to get your pet (cats and dogs) neutered?
Haha! Wait, let’s start with the basics. To understand why neutering is important, one needs to understand the difference between stray, feral, and wild animals. Stray animals are domesticated animals that are generally foraging around the human habitat and comfortable with humans – your street dogs are a good example. Feral animals are those animals that live in the wild, transitional areas, but are descendants of a domesticated animal. The key difference here is that feral animals aren’t comfortable with human contact. One can say cats are a good example for both stray and feral animals. And lastly, I think we all know what wild animals are.
Yes, but what does this have to do with the importance of neutering pets?
Firstly, your pets (let’s stick to dogs and cats in the context) are largely dependant on you. Every pet owner will agree that living with their dog/cat is like having a baby at home. They need attention, food, and basically everything from humans. Simply put, your pet dog can’t survive without your interference or any human source for that matter. And this also means that You are your dog’s family.
I agree with this. But it still doesn’t answer the question of why it’s important to neuter your pets?
There are a lot of benefits to neutering your pet. Like in your example, neutering Genie will surely help him calm down, a major benefit to you and your family. One needs to understand that even after neutering your pet, their original personality remains the same. However, unnecessary aggression is cut down.
Another thing to understand here is that neutering your pets further helps to protect other wild animals, especially the small-sized ones like snakes, lizards, and so on. When dogs breed in number, they tend to form packs and hunt, even capable of taking down a wild deer. You also need to understand that neutering your pets will reduce the spread of STDs and suppress their need to procreate.
Ah! We’ve come to the main point now! Isn’t suppressing a pet’s need to procreate and taking away their chance at life? Isn’t that inhuman?
Since we tend to attach human emotions/feelings to everything – it’s natural we do the same for our pets. Now let me get some facts here: for any other primate or any animal as such, sex isn’t a pleasure, except for humans. Domestic animals don’t need it, they don’t need to have ‘babies’ the human way. Plus, they live in the moment – today’s meal, today’s shelter, and today’s warmth and care from their owners.
Another important factor one needs to understand is the rising number of puppies and dogs. How many cases have we heard of neighbors poisoning street dogs and little pups because they were a nuisance? Neutering reduces unwanted puppies on the streets. Plus, when a male dog is neutered, he won’t aggressively make his way on a female dog and attack her. There are even chances that an alpha male in the locality might kill newborn pups to keep his dominance.
Wait, I’m not done yet! When a female dog comes in heat, the hormonal changes drive the male dogs to a frenzy. And this further leads to territorial fights, which further leads to terrible injuries. And in this same frenzy, some dogs even get relocated, which further leads to road kills. Apart from this, the number of dogs dying passive deaths from such territorial fights are several.
And there’s more. For all those insisting on dogs having their family, let me tell you – You are the dog’s family. You mean everything to your pet. So get him/her neutered! you’ll be helping them lead a good healthy life.
I think that answers most of my queries. But I also know that you’re severely against buying of breed dogs. Why’s that?
Do you have any idea what goes on at a breeding center? Dogs, especially female dogs are treated like puppy creating machines. Let me tell you the story of Cookie, a golden retriever seven-year-old female dog we rescued in the outskirts of Mysore. She was just lying still on the roadside, and I thought she was dead.
Apparently, she was abandoned there three days before, hadn’t been offered food or water. But she was still holding on to life. We found her terribly stinking – and despite several washes, the smell never went. Her nails were curled up, indicating she had never set foot on hard ground, hadn’t played out, run around – just nothing.
We got to know she was tied up in a single place all her life. She was given food in the same place, and she peed and pooped in the same place. All her life. The feces and the urine were stuck to her skin, causing infection, that’s why no matter how many times we washed her, her skin remained infected. We finally had to shave her completely and let that infection heal.
And you know something else? She wasn’t able to walk. A green substance was leaking out of private parts from continuous breeding and her eyes constantly watering. And yet – she wagged her tail anytime we approached her.
So what do you suggest?
Neutering! As lovely as Golden Retrievers are – they are the most abandoned dogs. Several breed dogs like German Shepard are also abandoned as they demand a lot of attention once they get old. There is another thing one needs to understand about breeding – you need to have a registered license to breed.
But in India, there’s a lot of backyard breeding where pet owners themselves breed the dogs and ‘donate’ the pups. Yes, you might say that you’ll give the newborns to the people you know. But do you give me 100% assurance that they will be taken care of properly? And let’s say they do take care and further get one of those pups to breed – is there any assurance that one of the female pups of that litter won’t be harassed like Cookie? Isn’t that why we’re having so many rescues in the first place? I hope you see why neutering is the best solution.
So my last question now. How do you suggest people get pets then?
I’m not asking you to stop adopting. Several Indian breed dogs are well-suited to the Indian climate. They have native genes and adapt very well here. Indian Pedigree dogs, Indian Mongrels, and so on are some examples. Go ahead and adopt pets; several NGOs are helping in the matter.
Let me also tell you another thing – no dog is a stray dog. Every dog is a breed one, they have a name. Like Indian Mudhols are a breed as well. And if you abandon a labrador on the road, that too becomes a stray, right? And just having a retriever or a husky alone won’t make you a dog lover, there are several ways to show that affection.
For one, you can simply feed the dogs in your road, locality. And neuter them! There are again non-profits and NGOs helping in the same matter. If you can just do the bare minimum, there’s help for everyone. Plus, when you neuter the dogs and cats in your locality, you’ll also be saving them neighbors who might want to poison them.
Getting a pet is a huge responsibility, but in return, they will shower you with selflessness – and this is across all breeds and all regions. Adopt a pet responsibly and take care of them with a lot of care and love. Getting them neutered has benefits on multiple levels, so go ahead and make their lives even better.
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