Friday, March 18, 2016

A Tale of Two Spay Neuter Tragedies

I wasn't going to write another post on the importance of spaying and neutering pets but some recent conversations have compelled me to do so. 

February was SPAY/NEUTER AWARENESS MONTH. All month long people were blogging about the importance of spaying and neutering pets, but not everyone agrees and not everyone is concerned about not spaying and neutering pets.

Not spaying and neutering pets can lead to tragedy
One of many unneutered dogs that end up in our shelters
I'd like to share stories of two dogs who were not spayed and neutered.  Things took a serious turn for the worse because of it.

The first story is about my sister's beautiful Dalmation, Suki.  I want to stress that this happened years ago, and she would never be persuaded like this again.  My sister got Suki from a "professional breeder".  Suki was apparently show quality but the breeder agreed to sell her to my sister at a pet quality price if my sister would breed her at least once, allow the breeder to show her, and give the breeder pick of the litter of puppies.  My sister really wanted Suki and thought having a litter of puppies would be a fun "experience".  She was dead wrong. 

The breeder's contract stipulated that Suki was not to be indiscriminately bred, the Breeder would provide an appropriate male stud.  She cautioned my sister about guarding Suki when she came into heat, explaining that an un-neutered male within a mile or more can scent a dog in heat and would go to great lengths to get to her.

My sister did her best to guard the chastity of her sweet girl.  However, while on a potty break in their own backyard an un-neutered neighbor dog jumped their 6 foot fence and mated with her.  It happened in what seemed like seconds to my sister, and she couldn't get that dog off Suki!

Poor Suki ended up preggers.  She called the breeder, who proceeded to chew her out (pardon the pun) for "not being careful"  What was she supposed to do, get a medieval chastity belt for the dog?!

Long story short, she brought Suki to the vet to abort the puppies.  The breeder steadfastly insisted on this and made some breach of contract threats - can you believe that??    Apparently, if she had puppies with a mutt she'd be ruined for life. 

Something went terribly wrong during surgery and Suki nearly bled to death!  Thankfully they were able to save her and had to perform an emergency hysterectomy.  Don't even ask about the breeders response to that - Yikes! 

In the end Suki was a happy, healthy member of the family bringing joy to everyone for many years!  Except that time she jumped up and snatched all the S'mores fixings I had laid out on the kitchen table during a family BBQ - LOL!!!  Angel Suki, you are still sorely missed.

It's nearly impossible to keep two unaltered dogs from mating with each other
An un-neutered male dog who ended up at the shelter where I volunteer
This next incident happened to a nice couple we met in one of Icy's training classes.  They had two gorgeous Leonbergers, a male and a female.  In the contract, the breeder they got the dogs from stipulated that they were not to spay or neuter the dogs until they were 2 years old. 

Many Veterinarians and breeders state that giant dog breeds shouldn't be spayed until they reach their full height at around 2 years old for purposes of bone and joint growth.  They feel that if the dog is spayed/neutered before 1 to 2 years old there is a greater chance of joint issues such as hip dysplasia.  I'm not a Veterinary health professional so I'm not qualified to affirm or dispute that.

The couple did their best to keep the two dogs apart, but eventually the inevitable happened and the female ended up pregnant at about a year old.  She had beautiful puppies, which the couple decided to sell on the internet (Grrrr!!).  The 6 pups were all pre-sold to people the couple had never met. 

Adorable videos were posted online for the future parents so they could keep up with the pups' growth.  All was well until they were 8 weeks old.  The puppies went to their new homes, all except one.  The one puppy couldn't go to her new home because she became sick.  Very, very sick.  After weeks of suffering for the puppy and several thousand dollars in treatment for the owners, the little girl had to be humanely euthanized by their Veterinarian.   They couldn't save her.

It was utterly devastating for the couple.  They felt so awful and grieved the sweet little puppy so deeply. 

Please don't let these spay/neuter tragedies happen to your dogs
My girl Icy wants everyone to please spay and neuter responsibly
Why am I sharing these tragic stories with you?  I'm doing it to illustrate how difficult it can be to prevent unwanted litters when you don't spay and neuter.  If your Veterinarian advises a family to wait until a certain age to spay/neuter their pet for medical reasons, I understand.  But please know the risks in doing so and put safeguards in place. Ask your Veterinarian or breeder for suggestions.

Having two dogs (or cats) in the same house that are not spayed or neutered is a disaster waiting to happen.  It was foolish of the breeder to think the couple above would be able to keep the dogs apart, living under the same roof, for nearly 2 years!  The breeder should have advised them to wait until one of the dogs was old enough to spay or neuter before bringing another dog into the household.

Please spay and neuter responsibly
A sweet shelter kitty whose owner had passed away.
What do you think the dog owners in these two stories could have done to avoid these tragic outcomes?  What would you have done differently?  Please leave us a comment and share your thoughts, we love when you Bark & Meow back at us!

If this resonates with you, you may also like my earlier post on Tens of Thousands of Puppies From One Dog.

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64 comments:

  1. Such sad stories! Yes, spaying/neutering is very important. Sadly, many people are now on the "no early spay/neuter" bandwagon. Surgery is a risk, but to not get pets spayed is even more of a risk - one that can be easily avoided. Great post!

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    1. Yes, very sad stories especially that second one. I know some Veterinarians recommend delaying spaying/neutering certain breeds for health reasons but it's a risk that needs to be carefully managed. Even one unwanted litter is one too many!

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  2. Well, in spite of the sad stories, I feel that they shouldn't be "fixed" until full grown as well. Cookie was apparently spayed ridiculously early. She's only 4 and already paying for it with incontinence and bad knees and other problems.

    So yes, I am in the camp of "wait with the spay, please"

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    1. I'm sorry to hear about Cookie's problems, are you sure they're directly the result of an early spay? So many pets are spayed early and don't have any issues. I respect a Vet or person's choice to spay later but that risk has to be very carefully managed. Not everyone will be able to prevent an unwanted litter. Even one unwanted litter is one too many, and it can translate into even more litters if the offspring aren't altered. I'm in the spay early camp, all my pets were spayed early and none ever had any issues. I don't know of anyone's pets who've had issues due to spay/neuter at a young age.

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  3. I completely believe in spay / neuter but do think some push it at an extremely early age thinking they are encouraging people to be responsible.

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    1. I haven't seen compelling evidence that supports waiting until a first heat or an older age to spay/neuter, but I respect the opinion of others who believe that way. I've seen so much heartbreak every Spring & Summer when hoardes of unwanted puppies and kittens end up in over crowded shelters. It's a disaster. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

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  4. I am in the camp of waiting to spay and neuter until dogs are full grown but I will agree some people can't handle it. I wonder how the people in the UK do it. In certain countries like Norway, spaying and neutering is illegal unless medically necessary and they are not over populated by dogs like we are here. I really disagree with pediatric spay/neuter surgeries.

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    1. I can't imagine that spay/neuter is illegal unless medically necessary! That seems crazy to me, how can they prevent unwanted litters when all the dogs are able to mate?? We have such a problem with unwanted litters of puppies and kittens in this country, it's so tragic. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Lauren.

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  5. I have mixed feelings on this, especially since Haley's just a few weeks after knee surgery and there does seem to be more and more studies that suggest some aliments are related to early spaying and neutering. Both Haley and her littermate were spayed early and both have had CCL knee injuries.

    The flip side is an issue too, as you pointed out. It can be pretty darn hard for most dog owners to prevent an unwanted pregnancy for one or two years.

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    1. I haven't seen compelling evidence that early spay/neuter contributes to ACL issues in dogs. There are so many other things that contribute to ACL injury. I know with giant breeds spay/neuter before a year or two is a concern of many Vets. My view is that of a shelter volunteer seeing hordes of unwanted puppies and kittens every Spring through Summer. It's heartbreaking. I'm a big believer in spaying/neutering shelter pets, you just can't be sure adopters will spend the time and money to do it, especially before unwanted litters occur. Thanks for weighing in on this.

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  6. Such a great post and lots of good information! :-)

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  7. I'm very much pro delayed altering. A responsible owner handles their intact dogs appropriately. If a person can't or won't, then their dog needs spayed/neutered. However, a responsible and proactive owner handles it safely.

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    1. Owners who delay altering take on the responsibility of making sure to safeguard their dog while in heat and keep their unaltered male dogs secure so they don't roam or escape. That's a big, ongoing responsibility. I've just learned that there are actually chastity belts for dogs. I have to look into that! Even on unwanted litter that ends up in a shelter is one too many I think,

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  8. I am also against pediatric spays/neuters. My first dog I had neutered when he was 7 months old. I regret having it done that early as I feel there is a good chance it caused, or at least contributed to, growth and joint issues. For all my future dogs I'll wait until they are fully developed/grown before getting them fixed.

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    1. I am more against the enormous number of unwanted puppies and kittens that end up in shelters than spaying/neutering at a young age. How do you know your dog's joint issues were due to spaying/neutering at 7 months, did your Veterinarian say it was the cause? Many dogs experience those issues, including show dogs that are never spayed/neutered at all. It is also genetic in many breeds. I'm not a Veterinarian but the Vets I've had and dealt with are in the early spay/neuter camp. I respect peoples' opinions on this but hope they realize that having an unspayed/unneutered dog or cat is a big responsibility and it's not easy to prevent unwanted litters.

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  9. We have gotten all of our pets neutered or spayed. I did breed my female GSD many years ago. I found it too difficult to part with the puppies and we ended up keeping both of them. Lesson Learned. My cat (Miss Gitty) escaped out of my window when she was in heat and got herself in the motherly way. This is when I was 20 years old. I din't have her neutered because she was strictly an inside cat. (Rolling eyes) All of her kittens were stillborn except one. You guessed it, I kept him too LOL! Lesson really learned!

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    1. It can be heartbreaking when unexpected or unwanted litters occur. So many puppies and kittens end up in shelters. The worst is when they're dumped in a cardboard box at the door of a shelter or thrown in a dumpster. It happens every year. At least you took responsibility for the babies in your care, you have such a good heart!

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  10. Matilda's getting spayed sometime soon, she's 2 years old and weights just four pounds. I've been nervous about surgery for such a tiny animal, but I think she's ready, and the benefits definitely outweigh any possible risk. If she got pregnant, she probably wouldn't be big enough to carry and birth the babies. I'm glad I waited, but she was always on a leash outside during her heat. I'm nervous about the procedure, but more nervous about a big dog becoming attracted to her, so it must be done!

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    1. Wow, she is small! Most Vets and shelters don't like to spay a dog that's under 4 pounds so I can see why you waited. You are very lucky some big dog didn't get after her, she's so small she could really get hurt by a larger dog. Dogs don't care about size, they're driven solely by instinct. I'm glad you've made the choice to spay her. Talk with your Vet about your concerns about surgery to ease your mind. Let us know how it goes! Thanks for sharing Matilda's story, Lindsay.

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  11. All our guys were 'fixed' by the rescue organisation before we adopted them - the criteria is by weight rather than age and whether they're fully grown.

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    1. Yes, our shelter goes by weight as well. It's about 4 pounds (Just under 2 Kilograms I think) or more for puppies as long as they're in good health. My cats and dogs were fixed as well except for the stray cats that took up residence in our yard - they were always having kittens, which wasn't good.

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  12. I am a total supporter of spaying and neutering pets. The population is out of control. I think not doing this in 99.9% of the cases is irresponsible. Phod was not neutered until the rescue got him at 1.5. It makes me sad to think there are little unplanned Phod's out there. Sigh!

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    1. Me too. Our population of homeless dogs and cats is definitely out of control. Shelters get full so fast, which leads to high euthanasia rates in many areas. Spay/neuter is an important part of reducing euthanasia rates. The vast majority of pets that enter the shelter I volunteer at are not spayed or neutered, regardless of their age. Who knows how many unwanted litters they've all contributed to!

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  13. Believe it or not, there are chastity belts for dogs - both male and female! I know - we didn't know this either until our neighbor told us about it (similar story to yours).

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    1. I had no idea! I think that is awesome. If people insist on waiting 1 to 2 years to spay/neuter, at least if they had one of those it might help prevent unwanted litters. I've got to look into that more, thanks for sharing that information!

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  14. I'm a full supporter of spay/neuter. I've only had one dog as an "adult" and he was already neutered when we got him. I wasn't aware that it's advised (by some) to wait until they are full grown, as that is certainly not the case with cats. Very interesting. Thank you for the post.

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    1. Some people believe in waiting to spay/neuter. I'm not one of those people but I respect the opinions of others even when I don't agree. There are far too many unwanted puppies and kittens that end up in shelters. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!

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  15. huge supporter of spay and neuters!

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    1. Me too! Thanks for stopping by & sharing your thoughts today Kerri.

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  16. It is critical to spay and neuter. That being said, my youngest dog, Piper was spayed by a shelter in California at only 8 weeks old and we are seeing some growth plate and soft tissue abnormalities so I do think that waiting until 6 months (that's what the rescue I work with in Colorado shoots for) would have been better for her overall health and well being.

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    1. I agree it's critical to spay/neuter but I'm sorry to hear about Piper. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

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  17. Such sad stories and its so important to spay or neuter your pet, we had an argument with a man in the dog park the other day who brought his unneutered bulldog to the park, he would not listen to anyone who told him that neutering is important, in the end he cursed all of us and left, poor dog :(

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    1. Yes, they are very sad stories. I cannot stand people who refuse to spay and neuter and then bring their unaltered dogs to public places! That is a recipe for disaster. Thanks for sharing your experience Ruth. That guy sounds very old-school. I'm glad he left the dog park.

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  18. I'm not a fan of pediatric neuter/spay either but I do think that most dog/cat owners aren't responsible enough to handle the added duties of having an intact animal.

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    1. You are certainly right about most pet owners not being able to handle the responsibility of having an intact pet! If that weren't the case shelters wouldn't overflow with puppies and kittens every single Spring and Summer. People who elect not to spay/neuter are probably not going to act responsibly with their intact pets, especially in public places. Thanks for stopping by today!

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  19. People can't be trusted to return to shelters for s/n even if it's free. I don't like pediatric s/n, even as I appreciate why it's done and would never recommend it for large breed dogs who need those hormones to finish growing.

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    1. You're so right about people not returning to shelters to spay/neuter. Many times they'll agree to get a puppy vaccinated for rabies but then they never do it! If they're not responsible enough to vaccinate for rabies they're certainly not going to spay/neuter.

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  20. People can't be trusted to return to shelters for s/n even if it's free. I don't like pediatric s/n, even as I appreciate why it's done and would never recommend it for large breed dogs who need those hormones to finish growing.

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    1. You're so right Mary. People can't all be trusted to alter pets or even get rabies vaccinations! Otherwise, I think the question of when to alter should be made by an owner & their Vet with the Vet fully explaining the risks of waiting to alter & how to mitigate them to avoid unwanted litters. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!

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    2. You're so right Mary. People can't all be trusted to alter pets or even get rabies vaccinations! Otherwise, I think the question of when to alter should be made by an owner & their Vet with the Vet fully explaining the risks of waiting to alter & how to mitigate them to avoid unwanted litters. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!

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  21. I really see both sides here, I waited until my dogs were a year old to have them spayed, but I was hyper vigilant when they were in heat. I was also quite relieved when they were old enough according to my vet's recommendation to be spayed. I do think that early spay/neuter has its benefits as well, especially as a criteria for animals being adopted out of a shelter.

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    1. If you're going to delay spay/neuter you really do have to be hyper vigilant about it. It's too easy to end up with an unwanted litter. I would follow my Vet's recommendation as well. For shelter pets I think it's important to spay/neuter them before they go to a new home. Otherwise it may never get done. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

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  22. My daughters dog was neutered at 6 weeks old by the breeder. I've never understood this although her vet stays very neutral on the topic. I think its horrendous.

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    1. 6 weeks is very young, in fact that's a bit too young to be taken away from littermates and the mom. I'm not a fan of removing a puppy until 8 to 10 weeks of age. I think that was a bit too young to go to a new home or to spay/neuter. Gosh, what was the breeder's rush?? Thanks for sharing that story.

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  23. We neutered one at 9 months and the other at 5 months. No complications

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    1. Thanks for sharing that Emily. Same here, we've always spayed/neutered at a young age and never had any issues. All my pets lived very long, healthy lives.

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  24. I'm very much in support of spay and neutering. All five of my Huskies have been, as my two shelter dogs. All of mine were spayed or neutered between five and six months. Interesting item Chasing Dog Tales spoke of - four out of my five Huskies had CCL injuries. Interesting indeed...

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    1. I think Huskies get injuries regardless, they're SO active and athletic and they like to play rough! My little dog is from the shelter and wasn't spayed at 5 years old. She apparently had had puppies. The shelter spayed her before I brought her home. She has a bit of a problem with her hind legs - she has that rear leg skipping thing, darn I can't remember what it's called. Obviously it has nothing to do with being spayed, she's 8 years old now. She also showed signs of possible abuse, she had an extreme fear of men! Thanks for weighing in on this, Dorothy.

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  25. I think they both tried to do their best, but I wouldn't want to deal with any contract. I am happy with my adopted mutts with no breeding contracts to worry about. Unless you want and are prepared for puppies, spay/neuter is a must. ~RascalandRocco

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    1. I think they did their best too. Some of these breeder contracts are ridiculous! One of the breeders I heard about not only had financial penalties in her contract but it stipulated they could take the dog away from the owners (parents) if they breached the contract. What kind of person would rip a dog away from the family they love over a stupid contract - unless of course the owner jeopardized the dog's health or abused the dog. That's cold! I agree, spay/neuter is a must. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

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  26. Spaying/neutering is very important for pet. Most people these days don't have the time or money to handle a litter of puppies or kittens. It is inconvenient and expensive to have babies around! Both of those contracts from the breeders sound really fishy.
    -Purrs from your friends at www.PlayfulKitty.net

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    1. Agreed on all counts! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this Robin!

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  27. That other dog jumped the fence an violated the poor little girl. What a horrible breeder to make your sister and the dog go through all of that!!

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    1. I agree, it was such a shame! She shouldn't have had to go through that, & the breeder should have recognized that my sister wasn't experienced enough to handle a potential situation like that. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts Denise.

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  28. I've heard of kittens being spayed at too young of an age. We waited until Henry was seven months. I agree, timing is important but wouldn't wait too long either.

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    1. I'm seeing that there are different opinions on how soon to alter pups & kittens. Even Veterinarians differ in opinion. Timing is important, I would follow the advice of a Vet I trust.

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    2. I'm seeing that there are different opinions on how soon to alter pups & kittens. Even Veterinarians differ in opinion. Timing is important, I would follow the advice of a Vet I trust.

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  29. These are two very good reasons to spay and neuter your pets.

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    1. I think so too. I'm seeing now that it's a difficult decision for a lot of people to make around how early to spay & neuter. Lots of different opinions!

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  30. Stories like this make me so sad but it is so important to spay and neuter and good to get the stories out so others can learn from them.

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    1. It is critical to spay & neuter,and to do so before unwanted litters ocvur!

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  31. I have a brother-in-law that refuses to neuter his dog. No amount of persuasion or sharing of facts about the medical issues will convince him.

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    1. OMD, that drives me crazy!! How do we get through to people like that? They are the reason I keep blogging about the importance of spay/neuter. Thanks for weighing in on this!

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