By Janet McAfee

Spaying or neutering your cat and dog is a wonderful gift you can provide your pet, your family, and your community.  These minor surgical procedures not only prevent medical and behavioral problems in your pet, but they also help save the lives of homeless animals that languish in shelters and roam our neighborhoods as strays.  In 2024, the overpopulation crisis in 2023 became worse as more unwanted kittens and puppies roam our streets and fill our shelters when there are simply not enough homes for them.  During the pandemic spaying neutering was not considered an essential service, so the young ones born then are now giving birth to more kittens and puppies.  Tragically, in 2024 the majority of animals being euthanized in California public shelters are under the age of 2 years.

Not convinced yet?  What are some of the reasons why you should spay or neuter?

  1. Your female pet will live a longer and healthier life – Spaying helps prevent uterine infections, uterine cancer, and breast cancer which are often fatal conditions in female animals.
  2. Neutering provides major health benefits for your male pet– In addition to prevent him from dangerous neighborhood roaming, neutering prevents testicular cancer in male cats and dogs.
  3. Spaying prevents heat cycle problems –The loud screeching of a female cat in heat can disturb your comfort and become a neighborhood nuisance.  Blood stains on your carpet and outdoor patio create more problems.  Neutering ends the problem of male cats spraying, particularly if done at an early age.
  4. Neutering prevents roaming and fight related injuries – One of the primary reasons male pets are lost, hit by cars, or end up in shelters is their tendency to escape when they smell a female animal in heat.  They may end up in fighting with competing males, and you will have an expensive vet bill and a possible legal problem.
  5. Neutering reduces aggression and biting from male dogs –APPROXIMATELY 90% OF DOG BITES TO HUMANS ARE FROM UNNEUTERED MALE DOGS! 
  6. Unneutered dogs habitually escape – One of the biggest reasons why dogs escape from homes, jumping fences and running loose, is the failure of their owners to get them neutered.
  7. There are not enough homes, and animals pay the ultimate price –For every human born in the United States, there are 15 dogs born and 45 cats born!  We cannot adopt our way out of the pet overpopulation crisis.
  8. Animals suffer and die in our public shelters – Many thousands of dogs and cats are euthanized in America’s public shelters EVERY DAY.  Most of these are healthy and adoptable animals whose only crime is being homeless.
  9. Taxpayers foot the bill for too many homeless animals – Depending on the jurisdiction, it costs California taxpayers over $400 for our local governments to capture, house, care for, and sometimes euthanize ONE unwanted animal.  Public shelters do not have the staff to provide 24-hr bottle feeding for orphan litters of underage kittens and puppies, and these tiny creatures may be euthanized unless a foster home is found.
  10. The human toll from shelter euthanasia – Public shelter workers must cope with the horrendous job duty of euthanizing pets that are not reclaimed or adopted.  This can be very traumatic when a shelter employee has to end the life of an animal they’ve spent days caring for and getting to know.  The majority of shelter employees do their best to help their animals get adopted, but an irresponsible public that discards pets for trivial reasons and carelessly breeds more animals makes their job overwhelming.

The unintended consequence of your finding homes for a litter of 10 puppies your dog produced may mean 10 homeless shelter dogs don’t get their second chance home.  Letting your pet produce offspring so your children can learn about the miracle of birth is not a good idea when so many unwanted litters end up in shelters. One exasperated woman told her neighbor who believed this, “Why don’t you take your children to a county shelter and show them some of the animals who may not make it out alive.”  It may be drastic, but in this case their dog was soon spayed.


Support legislation that regulates and reduces the breeding of animals.  Find out what the laws are in your city and attend city council meetings to demand they strengthen existing regulations.  Sign up to receive alerts from Best Friends’ Voices For No More Homeless Pets at to sign up.

One reason folks do not sterilize their pets is the high cost of the procedure at some private veterinarians.  Call your local shelter or private rescue organization for referrals.  Low cost spay and neuter services are available in most communities.  The website has links where you can find services.  The Animal Action League, operates a low cost spay/neuter mobile unit in the Coachella Valley, the Joshua Tree desert region, and in Banning.  Call the Animal Action League for an appointment at (760) 366-1100.