Was Bob Barker Wrong about Spaying and Neutering?

I’m going to go for a little controversy in this post so I’d love to hear your thoughts.

One of my favorite shows during summer vacation as a kid was The Price is Right, hosted by the inimitable Bob Barker (sorry Drew Carey–you’re ok but no Bob Barker!). Bob would end every show with the line,

“Bob Barker reminding you–help control the pet population. Have your pet spayed or neutered!”

But at the recent Blog Paws pet blogger convention Betsy Saul, a co-founder of petfinder, raised some interesting questions about spay/neuter that I think are worth discussing.

The Spay / Neuter Gospel

Betsy, like the majority of animal lovers, is a strong advocate of spay/neuter. One reason of course is because of pet overpopulation. This leads to many pets in shelters being euthanized each year due to lack of space and money to care for them. The Humane Society estimates that animal shelters care for 6-8 million dogs and cats each year. About 3-4 million of these cats and dogs are euthanized every year!

Besides controlling the pet population, spaying and neutering also has other benefits:

  • lower risk of some cancers
  • positive behavioral changes, such as less aggressive male dogs

But Have We Drank Too Much of the Spay and Neuter Kool Aid?

However, Betsy also wonders if too much spaying and neutering may be doing harm as well as good. Some interesting questions she raises are

  1. If most owners spay/neuter their pets, which are healthy and have great temperaments, then this leaves the majority of dogs being produced by puppy mills and dogs owned by people breeding for aggression. Not a good situation!
  2. Researchers are learning that spaying and neutering at a very young age may increase cancer risks for some dog breeds
  3. Spay/neuring may be associated with weight gain in some pets

Because spay/neuter isn’t cheap, Betsy thinks that the spay/neuter issue may be more complex than many pet owners have been led to believe, and we might want to be open to other forms of pet contraception or maybe even no contraception in some cases.

What Do You Think?

What do you think of Betsy’s views? We think they make a lot of sense, and it’s something we never thought very deeply about since the gospel of spaying and neutering is so strong.

Have you tried another alternate forms of pet contraception? What have your experiences been?

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