“It’s a little-known fact that one in three family pets gets lost during its lifetime and approximately 9 million pets enter shelters each year.” -- Betty White

The Clash said it best in 1982 with “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” But for the content of this article it should be, “Should they stay or should they go.” The “they” in this sense are your pet’s reproductive organs. It's something people argue about frequently.

There are many health benefits for your pet if you spay or neuter them. It will prevent testicular cancer in male pets as well as other cancers in female pets along with uterine infections. It is best to fix the female prior to her first heat. Along with that your female pet will not go into heat anymore. During this time your pet can urinate more frequently, which could result in accidents around the house. Female cats have the tendency to yowl constantly during this time.

Unneutered dogs and cats tend to mark their territory by spraying urine all around the area. Aggression issues could be less frequent with early neutering. They will be less likely to mount things and people after the procedure. When fixed your male pet does not have the urge to roam the area, which prevents him from getting into traffic or fights with other animals.

Fixing your animal can be cost effective for you. Having them fixed will prevent them from having unwanted pregnancies, which costs the owner money. It also prevents unwanted babies from being either killed or set free into the community. There are too many stray cats roaming Columbus and each female cat can have a litter of up to 10 kittens. So fixing your pets can help in decreasing this population. Also this prevents many of these animals from being picked up and placed into shelters.

Many times shelters are so overpopulated with stray cats the only thing they can do is euthanize the feral animals. Some areas have a trap-neuter-release program where they will catch stray cats, fix them, then release them into the community. Though this could be beneficial for overcrowding, it has downsides. I know the biggest complaint in Columbus about stray cats is that they defecate on the complainant’s property. No one wants to be digging in their garden or sandbox and find cat poop. So this is just one issue with the TNR program.

In Columbus, along with many other communities in Nebraska, it is more expensive to license an unfixed pet. In Columbus it is $25 for unfixed while it is only $13 for a fixed pet. In Lincoln it is $52 for unfixed and $21 for fixed. Grand Island is $41 and $16. Across the country more cities are going the way of Los Angeles and Dallas by making it mandatory to have all animals fixed after the age of 4 months. This is for both dogs and cats unless the owner gets a breeding permit from their city. Their reasoning is because of overpopulation.

Columbus Animal Control Officer Shawn Flowers can be reached at sflowers@columbusne.us or 402-564-8839.

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