Puppies and kittens! Whoa!

by Rob English

Here are two fun facts to help understand your cat or dog a little better: Dogs think you’re their leader; cats think you’re their mother.

And isn’t it a lucky dog who has a loved one’s feet to lie at in the evening and a home to guard. It’s a fortunate cat who has a lap to purr in and a house to keep clean of mice! How blessed we are to have them! They delight us, they need us, they’re members of our families.

Yes, life can be great for a beloved pet in a family setting. But in the ecosystem of the streets, what awaits the leaderless homeless puppy and the motherless homeless kitten?

Dogs are not legally allowed to run loose in the streets of Syracuse. At best, a homeless dog will be captured and caged at the SPCA, possibly for many difficult months, but at least he will be kept warm and get regular meals. Cats, like many homeless dogs, will experience hunger, dirt, cold, fleas, potential pregnancy, lack of veterinary care, and will live in fear of cars and storms and cruel people and more. Litters of kittens or puppies by homeless cats or dogs will increase the number of sufferers exponentially: eight homeless females can give birth to over sixty-four homeless kittens, and they in turn can deliver themselves of hundreds more, and so on.

Our homed dogs and cats don’t ask for much. We love them, but for most families one or two dogs or cats is enough. They take up emotional space and they need stroking and attention. They need the food we buy for them and occasional veterinary care including legally required rabies shots. So when one or two pets is enough in a household, a dog or cat giving birth to a litter of little ones, or impregnating a neighbor’s pet can worsen the issue of overpopulation.

So, how to avoid that problem? Most people would agree, I believe, that each little cat or dog is born deserving of a loving leader or “mother” of his or her own, but your house can only care for so many! What is the solution? You don’t want to just turn the babies into the streets. So, what, give them away? To whom? To the neighborhood kids? Probably not unless you know the parents well and have their consent. And that nice lady you don’t know who comes to take a puppy or kitten you advertised for “free to a good home”- is she for real or is she a cutout for a dogfighting operation?

The best solution to “unwanted” kittens or puppies would be for the guardian have their cat or dog spayed or neutered before a litter of orphans could be conceived. But most veterinarians need to make a profit from their care, so commonly they will insist on adding costly tests and labs to a spay or neuter operation for your pet. The resulting added costs can dissuade a financially challenged person from taking their dog or cat in for the surgery.

Fortunately, several veterinarians in Syracuse understand the cost issue and are willing to perform spay and neuter surgeries as a low-cost service to the financially challenged public. Their service, S.A.N.S., Spay and neuter Syracuse, is a highly professional spay and neuter clinic at 2616 Erie Boulevard East that operates on a non-profit basis. Because SANS does not require the costly, non-critical tests or treatments the clinic will provide the spay or neuter surgery, rabies and distemper vaccines, a flea treatment, and a nail trim and ear cleaning for your pet at a lower, manageable cost for qualifying pet owners and some organizations. From the S.A.N.S. website: Eligible clients include those receiving government assistance, those considered low income by NYS HEAP guidelines, veterans, registered non-profits & rescue organizations.

Dr. Michael Moynihan, President of S.A.N.S., says, “Spay/neuter is the most efficient use of resources to improve the quality of life for companion animals. We need to make these services accessible to everyone.”

In the several years that SANS has provided their low-cost surgeries, the clinic has spayed or neutered over 37,000 pets in the Syracuse area. Imagine how many puppies and kittens they have saved from the streets! Pet overpopulation is a serious problem in Syracuse, but with S.A.N.S., instead of possibly adding to the homeless animal population we can focus on enjoying and caring for our wanted, beloved pets.

Look up S.A.N.S. at https://www.spayandneutersyracuse.com/

Rob is a member of People for Animal Rights, in Syracuse. If you would like a brochure about the organization and a sample of our newsletter, contact us at PAR, P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse 13215-0358, people4animalrightgscny@gmail.com or (315)488-PURR (7877).