Meet our new foster, Snowy! This older girl is the SWEETEST maltese mix. She just wants to be with people. We don’t know much about her history. She came from an overcrowded shelter in California, and unfortunately she has FIVE mammary tumors that are getting removed today. I dropped off at the vet’s this morning and all I can do today is hope that she makes it through the surgery, and then hope that the tumors aren’t cancerous. She is anywhere between 10 and 15 years old (the vet will have a better idea once he has a chance to examine her mouth, but she also has severe dental disease.) Because of so many health unknowns, putting her under anesthesia is risky. Such an invasive surgery is risky. And if she has cancer…
I don’t want to think about it. This is hard. It MIGHT be heartbreaking. I’m trying to stay positive, but with so many unknowns, I have to prepare myself for a variety of different possible outcomes today.
This can be avoided. I don’t just mean sweet dogs like her ending up in a shelter; maybe she was surrendered because she was old, maybe she got lost and because she wasn’t microchipped her family couldn’t be found, but either way, she wasn’t spayed. If she had been spayed, she wouldn’t have mammary tumors. It breaks my heart to see such preventable pain and suffering in animals because pet parents don’t do what they should be doing for their pets.
I know that it’s not always ill intent. A lot of people don’t have the proper education about spaying and neutering.
1. “But it makes them fat!” No evidence has been found that directly connects spaying or neutering with weight gain. With proper diet and exercise, a pet’s weight can be maintained at a healthy level.
2. “It changes their personality!” Well, it does eliminate surging hormones such as heat in females (which is unpleasant for both canines and felines) and the extreme urge to mate in males, which often results in them being calmer and having less “mood swings.” Also it reduces the likelihood of “marking” behaviors in males, which should be a relief to any pet parent!
3. “But I wanted my pet to have babies!” Did you ask yourself why? A pet is not going to feel unfulfilled and like they are missing out if they do not experience parenthood. With so many scared and lost pets in the shelter system and on the streets, why contribute to that overpopulation?
4. “But a lot of people want to adopt puppies or kittens because they’er not prepared to deal with the behavioral problems of rescue pets that may have been neglected or abused.” Okay, I can understand why some people want that “clean slate” but a LOT of rescues and shelters take in pregnant dogs, and then adopt out the puppies and kittens when they are old enough to be vetted. You can definitely find puppies and kittens to rescue! (The rescue that I work for frequently has litters of puppies and kittens due to rescuing pregnant mamas!)
5. “But isn’t surgery risky?” Spaying and neutering is the most common procedure performed in the veterinary profession, which means that the vets are VERY skilled at doing the procedures correctly. In my seven years of working at a rescue with our own in-house clinic, we have never had a complication during a spay or neuter procedure. You can alway ask your vet ANY questions prior to the procedure and they should be happy to talk you through it step by step and help to put your mind at ease. However, it is important to follow your vet’s after-care instructions to prevent post-surgery infections or complications. A far riskier surgery is a c-section if a pregnant mama has babies too big for her birth canal, or too many babies to have a safe natural birth.
And once again, spaying and neutering reduces the risk of things like mammary tumors in females, and testicular cancer in males. One of the many risks of Snowy’s surgery today is the possibility of the tumors being cancerous, and having already spread to her lymph nodes. If that happens, she has a slim chance of survival. But I’m trying not to let my mind needlessly worry about things I cannot currently control. All I can do is wait for news.
Happy Birthday to me, I guess. I’ve only known Snowy for a few days, but I already adore her. She doesn’t deserve all of this. She deserves better. I hope we get the chance to give her the better life that she deserves.