Growing up on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, I learned to live with the high number of dogs roaming the area. If you’re new to the Community, you may hear the term “rez dog” given to the dog(s) that sit in the water features at the Two Waters Complex during hot summer days. A dog may be a stray, or if it’s fortunate, it has a home. The sad reality is that many of these dogs are strays, chased off from a home that is unable to afford caring for it or that already has too many dogs. Or, it was dropped off in the Community by someone in a surrounding city.
The SRPMIC Health and Human Services Division helps limit the population of dogs and cats by offering Community members free spay and neuter clinics several times year.
“There are a lot of real good reasons to get your cats or dogs spayed and neutered,” said Environmental Health Specialist Christopher Henke. “First of all, it’s free for Community members, and it cuts down [on spread of] diseases … and negative behaviors, and the [number] of unwanted pets.”
Normally it would cost $150 to $200 to spay or neuter an animal; some facilities offer discounts ranging from $50 to $80. Small dogs and cats tend to cost less because they are easier to handle. For larger female dogs and female cats the procedure is more expensive.
Neutering male cats and dogs cuts down on incidence of testicular and prostate cancer considerably. Spaying females decreases risk of the animal developing uterine or mammary cancer. Spaying and neutering your dogs also lowers their chance of catching a sexually transmitted disease. Believe it or not, there are animal STDs out there: canine brucellosis, canine herpes virus and canine transmissible venereal tumors. If your dog is running around outside, it can lead to more health issues.
“A lot of people may believe some myths about their pet’s personality changing [after spaying or neutering]; that’s not true. Their personality will always be the same, it’s just going to get rid of some negative behaviors,” said Henke. “You won’t see any marking of territory in the males, and the females [won’t go into heat].” This will cut down on the population of unwanted animals in the Community and the problems they can cause.
It’s best to get your pet spayed or neutered before it’s six months old. While some people believe it’s better to have one litter of puppies, Henke said that’s not true.
“Pets are family, and you want your family around as long as possible. Nobody wants to see their animal get sick and suffer. When you start looking at financial reasons too, it makes sense—you can’t beat the free clinic. It will save you money down the road too,” said Henke. “We have already spayed and neutered hundreds of animals, and that probably has helped lower the pet population on the Community.”
In addition to the spay and neuter clinics, there are vaccination clinics for cats and dogs to help them stay healthy. The next clinic will be held on Monday, January 27, at the Lehi Community Building. For more information on upcoming clinics, or for an appointment for the spay and neuter clinic or pet vaccinations, call (480) 362-5706.