we are biology

Life Contains These Things

Make love, not unwanted litter

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(Written 6 November 2008)

Neutering and spaying — a violation of animal rights and welfare?

I don’t think so.

I strongly support neutering and spaying precisely because I also support animal rights and welfare.

I had a very interesting discussion with Earl about this now popular and almost routine activity of neutering and spaying companion animals (i.e., dogs and cats), or the process of removing an animal’s reproductive organ for sterilizing purposes.

I applaud the Free World for making this procedure so common that it’s as automatic as signing up pets for vaccination.  The primary purpose of ‘fixing’ (colloquial term for neutering and spaying) is to prevent the births of unwanted litter, as companion animals are in fact overpopulated.

There have been arguments that ‘fixing’ is a violation of an animal’s right to reproduce, and therefore contradicts animal rights in general.  Some say that this procedure uses the ‘greater good’ excuse, just as much as vivisection uses the exact same reasoning.

I do understand this position.  The word ‘rights’ is very tricky, and decisions made based on this concept must be consistent with some magna carta.  An animal rights organization, for example, that supports euthanasia ‘for the greater good’, would be contradicting the very morals that they’re supposed to be upholding.  There is a difference between ‘rights’ and ‘welfare’, but this entry won’t be tackling these technicalities.  This is a whole ‘nother topic for a whole ‘nother “dissertation.”  😉

And of course, there are the usual arguments saying that animals shouldn’t go through the painful procedure as well as its equally horrendous aftermath — the post-op.  But this debate shouldn’t take up too much of this entry, as research has proven that the procedure is very humane, and is practically the same procedure done during the surgical sterilization of humans.

The post-op, on the other hand, is indeed challenging, but so would any post-op episode for humans.  There are readily available techniques as well as post-op treatments that would help calm your newly neutered/spayed pets until they fully recover.

But the main question here is, why do people, including myself, support neutering and spaying?

There are various reasons for people to support this procedure.  Some guardians (my politically correct term for ‘ pet owners’, hehe) choose to neuter and spay their animal companions for sheer convenience.  And it’s true — who would want extra boarders to feed, give space to, and spend so much money on?  Besides, puppy and kitten offspring are gross!  Not for me, but for some people;  for instance, my grandmother.  Hehe.  (”Mukha silang bubuwit! Kadiri!” / “They look like baby mice! Yuck!”)

But I believe there’s so much more to just convenience, and I hope this entry would help give more meaning to the procedure, and encourage guardians even more to let their animal companions go through this important activity, which would significantly contribute to the environment as well as to animal rights and welfare.

Is the overpopulation of companion animals really an issue?  It sure is.  The term ‘overpopulation’ is generic, but in this case, it means that there are more pets available than there are homes available.  Of course, animal shelters and rescue groups roam the streets to capture these little nomads and put them up for adoption.  But what happens (and this usually happens) when nobody wants to adopt one of them?  The overpopulated (the issue is indeed carried forth) shelters don’t have a choice but to put these unwanted companions to sleep.

Actually, the US is lucky that they even have animal shelters and rescue groups.  I admit that my last paragraph was a very Americanized way of looking at things, but I guess it makes the point even clearer.  Look out the window of your car and you’ll lose count of the askals (stray dogs) and pusakals (stray cats) you’ll encounter from, say, Quezon City to Makati.  They’re not just unwanted companions;  majority of them will probably spend the rest of their lives homeless, without even the mercy of euthanasia (not that I support euthanasia, cos I don’t).

More than it being a mere convenience to us guardians and potential guardians, supporting and practicing neutering and spaying will eventually (hopefully soon) put an end to an even bigger, more imporatant issue, which is the concept of the ‘companion animal.’

Humans created the concept of the ‘companion animal’, of the ‘pet.’  But originally, animals do not belong in a ‘home.’  Their home is the wild — the forest, the ocean, the desert, the mountains.  Our loneliness, desire for personal entertainment, compassion, fascination and love for animals — it’s an endless list of reasons — made us create this breed of animals called ‘companions’ and ‘pets.’  We created a species of animals who cannot survive without the presence of a human being.  But this isn’t the natural scheme of things.  I don’t support the proliferation of this breed at all.

Nor do I condemn the already existing breed of “freaks of the non-wild.”  I believe it is my responsibility as, first, someone who caused this breed in the first place;  second, as someone who has the ability to adopt, take care and give the best quality of life to these animals who can only survive in a home, under a human’s care and supervision (again, I don’t support euthanasia at all);  and lastly, as someone who also has the ability to put an end to this unnatural breed of companion animals, precisely because they naturally belong to the wild.

I believe that with neutering and spaying, this breed will eventually disappear.  The image is indeed kinda sad.  Pets are great companions indeed, and who could resist their cuteness, right?!  I know I can’t!  But this is where the talk of ‘rights’ comes in.  Animals weren’t created to be ‘cute’ or to curb a spinster’s loneliness.  They weren’t created for entertainment.  Most importantly, they’re not supposed to depend on us humans to survive.  They need to independently thrive with their own kind in their own natural homes.  And that, to me, is what truly means to “live harmoniously” with the rest of the world.


Written by Karla Mercado

February 1, 2009 at 2:33 am

One Response

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  1. That was a intriguing read|. Your insights were very illuminating and made me reconsider the latest developments in these areas. If only more writers are as conscious and as passionate about educating the public about these issues as you, we aspiring journalists wouldn’t get such a bad rep. Appreciate expressing yourself so articulately. You made my day.

    psychic life

    January 30, 2010 at 10:45 am

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