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Almost everyone enjoys springtime. The cold, austere winter landscape gradually warms and softens under a new layer of leaves and flowers. Who could possibly dread the arrival of such a perfect time of year?

Many pet owners!

When it becomes obvious that Fifi or Buttons is pregnant (again!), a knot of worry may begin to form in the owner's stomach. Last time it happened, it was so hard to find good homes for all those adorable little puppies or kittens. Sadness over having to take some of them to the Animal Shelter and never knowing what became of them is a lingering heartache.

Remembering last year and the extra food that had to be bought to feed all those hungry mouths makes the owner wince. And while the babies' playful antics brought smiles and laughter, the little ones simply didn't understand that they shouldn't amuse themselves by chewing up or scratching everything in sight. Replacing the items that were destroyed was an expense that hurt.

Of course, there simply wasn't enough money to provide vaccinations, so it wasn't surprising when some of them became ill. Paying a vet bill was a luxury the owner couldn't afford. Sadly, he recalls the morning he went outside to find that his favorite had died during the night. He wonders, why can't things be different?

Fortunately, they can be. But first, it helps to realize that, as much as we may wish that animals could understand the consequences of their actions, they cannot. They simply do not have the capacity to think as we do. They do not care about the future of their offspring. They don't fret over how much money it will take to feed them. They never worry about how they will pay a doctor if their baby becomes ill. Frankly, it is left up to their human caretakers to agonize over these details.

And most people do want to be responsible pet owners. They don't deliberately set out to cause problems for themselves by neglecting to have their dog or cat spayed or neutered. It's just that something always interfered. Time slipped away, or the budget just wouldn't stretch that far. Many people may feel that neutering a male animal is not important. An unneutered male animal, however, can be the cause of a unspayed female pet's pregnancy. How popular will that make the owner of the male?

It's true that having a pet spayed or neutered costs, but so does caring for all those cute but unwanted kittens or puppies. In addition to food, replacement of ruined property, vaccinations and other medical attention are the taxes that must be collected from everyone to pay for the Animal Shelter, Animal Control, and the expenses that those departments incur.

Spaying and neutering refer to an operation that a veterinarian performs to prevent an animal from having babies. Females are spayed; males are neutered.

The emotional price that must be paid for not preventing pregnancy in a pet may also be high. At the very least, most people feel anxiety over what to do with all the babies. Depending on the situation, sadness, grief, or other emotions may also be experienced.

The good news is -- it's all avoidable.

Do yourself a favor this year. Get your pet spayed or neutered. And look forward to the spring!



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