Eugene Weekly : Cover Story : 7.29.2010


Pets Issue 2010:

Going to the Dogs (And Cats)

Does This Spay Make My Butt Look Big? The real facts on spay and neuter

Take ‘em or Leave ‘em It’s vacation time, doggone it

‘We’re Here for Everything On call 24-7-365 at the Emergency Veterinary Hospital


Does This Spay Make My Butt Look Big?
The real facts on spay and neuter
by Catherine Foss 

“I want my kid to witness the miracle of (puppy, kitty, rabbit) birth.” “Fido won’t feel like a man without his balls.” “I’ll find all the puppies good homes.” “I can’t afford it.” 

Illustration by Trask Bedortha

Excuses abound for not having pets spayed or neutered, but animal shelters are overflowing and thousands of homeless animals are euthanized each year. 

Both the Willamette Animal Guild (WAG) and the City of Eugene Spay & Neuter Clinic specialize in ensuring that all families can afford to have their pets spayed or neutered. And in addition to concerns about cost, they’ve heard all the other reasons why people might be wary about snipping Fido and spaying Fluffy. 

One common misconception is that fixing your pet will change its personality and behavior. The fear is that a watchdog won’t be a good protector, a hunting dog won’t be driven to hunt or that the animal might become an altogether different pet. But Cathy Lacki from the city clinic explains: “It only changes behaviors we don’t want in the first place.” Males, she says, will be less likely to roam and be aggressive because of females in heat. And for females, aside from the danger of roaming while in heat, she says that even a single litter can be dangerous. “One heat cycle increases their chance of getting mammary cancer,” she says, and giving birth is riskier for a cat or dog than getting spayed.  She is adamant that dogs can still be trained to become hunters or watchdogs after being fixed. 

Another frequent worry is that pets will grow fat or lazy after being fixed. Kathy Ford from WAG says that yes, “the metabolism of both the cats and the dogs will slow down.” But the benefits to the animals outweigh the weight gain. Also, Lacki adds that if you overfeed your animals and don’t exercise them, then they will definitely gain weight, so it’s up to the owner to step in and prevent this. 

Any animal over four months old can be spayed or neutered at the city clinic — some rescues even do the operation as early as six weeks after birth — and the procedure can be done within a day. Lacki explains that the customer simply makes an appointment and then brings the animal in between 7:30 and 8 am. The veterinarian examines the animal while the owner is there, and the surgeries generally are finished by noon. The pets have a couple of hours to recover while the staff can monitor them, and then can be picked up between 2 and 5 pm.

The prices at both clinics are low, and at the city clinic, low-income residents can apply for a voucher to cut costs — $20 for male cats, $30 for female cats, $60 for dogs. The funding for the voucher program comes from dog license revenue from Eugene pet owners.

Additionally, WAG offers a special package for feral cats: $40 for spay/neuter, vaccines and flea treatment. “We came from a rescue background,” Ford explains. “There are a lot of cats that are free-roaming; they’ve been dumped.” You can recognize fixed feral cats because their ears have been “tipped” — the top quarter inch is removed while they are anesthetized. The hope is that while these cats may never be adopted, at least they will live a disease-free life and not have numerous litters. 

Questions? Contact WAG at 345-3566; located at 3045 Royal Ave. For City of Eugene Spay and Neuter Clinic, call 682-3643, or stop by at 3970 W. 1st Ave.