Apparently the answer could be as high as 600,000,000 but we don’t care and here’s why: that number is incomprehensibly too large.
We can reason this situation is intolerable. We are morally aware we have an obligation to help, yet we remain strangely unmoved because this number is much too large to connect with. Even beyond empathy.
So let’s look at the numbers closer to home.
In 2013, nearly 4 millions pets were euthanized in the USA, 2.7 millions of which are healthy or with easily treatable issues. During that time, over 300,000 dogs were imported from developing countries. Incomprehensible!
Let’s look at our own numbers, in Canada.
Numbers are difficult to come by in Canada due to the lack of governing agencies and standards. Canada is the wild west of rescues and pet imports. The best estimates report over 600,000 dogs are euthanized every year, most of which are in Quebec.
This translates to likely well over 1,000,000 dogs needing a name and a home in Canada.
How can we sanely live in a country where so many dogs are homeless and gas chambers are still in use?
How can we participate in worldwide efforts to help others manage their populations of unwanted dogs when our own house is not in order?
It is time we focus on making social changes in Canada that prove successful. Only once we have humanely dealt with our surplus dog problems will we be in a position to efficiently help others.
Until 10 years ago, the primary incentive to spay and neuter was to prevent uncontrolled numbers of dogs produced and euthanized at shelters across the continent.
However as the primary impetus to breed dogs (for form and function) has considerably changed, the views on spay and neuter are also evolving, especially in light of dog health and social differences observed in other countries (mainly in Europe) which do not endorse surgical sterilization.
PREVENTION OF MAMMARY CANCER
Other than population control, the most important reason to spay dogs is the prevention of mammary tumours, if spaying is done early in life. However this comes at a cost: increased urinary incontinence.
INCREASED RISKS OF CANCER
There is growing evidence which is not conclusive due to the lack of statistically significant controlled studies (as opposed to observational ones) indicating that certain cancers such as osteosarcoma (bone cancer), bladder transitional cell carcinoma, splenic hemangiosarcoma and mast cell tumours may be increased as a result of gonadectomy (removal of gonads, ie ovaries or testicles).
SPAY AND NEUTER IN REMOTE COMMUNITIES
This brings into focus the need to elaborate specific protocols regarding spay and neuter in remote areas such as First Nations communities where the mortality rate of dogs may be relatively high.
Is it done to benefit an individual dog or the community?
If population control is the aim, shouldn’t all available females be spayed first before neutering males?
What about neutering males who do not have clear male-on-male aggression behavioural issues – why spend resources on them before spaying females?
Should breed predisposition to ailments resulting from gonadectomy be considered when spaying or neutering a dog in remote areas?
The Dog Population Management project of James / Hudson Bay area of 2015-16 is helping to bring to light specific needs and solutions for dog populations in remote areas. We would love to hear your thoughts!