Animal shelters are filled with unwanted puppies and dogs. Sadly, each year, shelters across the country are compelled to euthanize about 1.5 million unwanted pets to cope with overcrowding. Yet much of the public may not even be aware that a problem with animal overpopulation exists. Stray or homeless dogs are often found on the streets — sometimes brought to the shelters with a litter of puppies. Other dogs are surrendered by owners who cannot care for them or who no longer want them. Nationally, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reports that only about half of the 6.5 million animals that enter the shelter or rescue system are adopted.
The Austin Area is a Leader in the “No Kill” Movement
The city of Austin has been identified as the largest “No Kill” city in the United States. Many smaller towns in the area also now have shelters designated “No Kill” facilities by the Best Friends Animal Society, a nonprofit organization studying these trends nationwide. This region of Texas is blessed with many compassionate volunteers who participate in a cooperative network of animal shelters, rescue groups, and other organizations – all working to take responsible actions to help protect our “best friend” and prevent a future of many unwanted pets or stray animals. An exceptionally important part of this work is a program to spay or neuter dogs within the shelter and rescue system and, equally as important, actively encourage the public to voluntarily spay or neuter their pets.
Although the average number of puppies in a litter can vary by breed and size, the number can range up to 13 or more. At those birth rates, the resources of a community shelter and rescue system can be overwhelmed quickly. The National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy has found that 43 percent of the puppies born in the United States were from unplanned litters. Broad public support for the notion that all dogs not specifically intended for breeding should be routinely spayed or neutered is the key to ending the cycle of overpopulation in animal shelters and ensuring a better future for our community.
The Spay/Neuter Process
Spaying refers to a surgical procedure performed by a veterinarian to remove a female dog’s reproductive organs, while neutering refers to the removal of reproductive organs from a male. Both procedures are routine, affordable and equally safe and effective.
Spaying a female dog is often done between five and 10 months of age – ideally before the first heat cycle. Male dogs are generally neutered between six months and a year of age.
The Texas Health and Safety Code sets forth a series of requirements relating to the spaying and neutering of dogs adopted from an animal shelter or a rescue group. These include:
- A dog may not be released for adoption unless it has been either spayed or neutered or is released to a person who agrees to have the dog spayed or neutered by a specific date; and
- The veterinarian who performed the spay or neuter procedure must send written confirmation to the shelter or rescue group within seven days following the procedure.
Most of the dogs that Blue Dog Rescue offers for adoption have already been spayed or neutered. If a dog is too young for the procedure, an adoption may still be made subject to a requirement that the animal will be spayed or neutered at a specified later date. Blue Dog Rescue will pay an authorized veterinarian for the procedure to be done and will make arrangements for transportation and care after the surgery. If the person adopting a dog chooses to have their veterinarian perform the procedure, Blue Dog Rescue will reimburse the usual amount it pays to veterinarians.
In addition to effective population control, the advantages of spaying or neutering a pet may include:
- Decreased aggression;
- Decreased urine-marking behavior;
- Decreased wandering, and
- Decreased risk of mammary, testicular and ovarian cancer.
In recent years there has been an evolving body of research that is more closely examining the health risks and benefits of the spay and neuter procedures.
There is a risk of obesity following the surgery but it is one that is also quite manageable. Dogs generally need fewer calories after being spayed or neutered, but adjusting their diet appropriately and keeping them active will prevent weight gain.
What You Can Do to Help Dogs in the Austin Area
If you would like to have your dog spayed or neutered but are concerned about costs of the procedure, the City of Austin, in partnership with Emancipet, an Austin nonprofit organization, provides this service free of charge to Travis County residents. Included with the surgery:
- Rabies vaccine;
- Vaccination against distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, and parainfluenza (DHPP) for dogs 6 months and younger;
- Microchip (unless already chipped); and
- Post-surgery pain medication
To take advantage of this opportunity, consult the schedule for upcoming dates and locations at the Emancipet website.
Blue Dog Rescue is a 100% volunteer-run organization where the donation of time is of great value. We do not have a shelter facility. Instead, we rely on volunteer foster families to care for our dogs while we find permanent homes for them.
If you have a special skill, talent, or available resources, we can certainly use your help. Fostering, fundraising, event planning/coordination, graphic design/marketing/PR are all needed volunteer areas. Please view our events page to see if there is an upcoming event of interest to you.