Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

February 7, 2014

Spaying, neutering can enhance pet health

TAHLEQUAH — It’s a plea repeated by humane organizations, veterinarians, pet clinics and even celebrities: Get the family pet spayed or neutered.

But despite efforts to educate pet owners about procedures and evidence of benefits, the population of unwanted, homeless or feral dogs and cats remains a problem in the U.S. And apathy or irresponsibility aren’t necessary the cause.

“I think one of the biggest problems for pet owners, when it comes to spaying or neutering, is they worry that it will change the pet’s personality,” said Dr. Kyle Rozell, veterinarian for the Pet Clinic on Main Street. “Others worry about putting their pets under anesthesia.”

Rozell said altering adult pets can raise some issues, but the benefits far outweigh any advantages to leaving a dog or cat reproductively viable.

“It is true that a female dog spayed late in life may put on weight,” he said. “Anesthesia is not completely risk-free, but the technology, monitoring and anesthetics are far better today than 25 years ago. Unaltered animals often develop mammary tumors, uterine infections and prostate problems. They engage in bad behavior and fight.”

Rozell said the ideal time to spay or neuter pets is at 6 to 10 months of age, depending on the animal.

“In a perfect world, we would like to neuter or spay all animals before they reach sexual maturity,” he said. “But I see about female dogs a year with breast cancer, and most are not spayed. If a male is having problems urinating, you can neuter them and the problem is solved, even if the animal is 10 years old.”

Organizations such as the Humane Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals stress spaying and neutering because millions of pets are in shelters across the nation. The Humane Society and ASPCA estimate that between three million and four million animals are euthanized every year in the U.S. Of those, 90 percent are healthy and adoptable.

Unwanted animals also contribute to pet dumping and feral populations. Cats reproduce quickly; the offspring of a mated pair of cats can number more than 80 million in 10 years, assuming two litters per year and three surviving kittens in each litter.

Pets altered before reaching sexual maturity are less likely to develop annoying behaviors such as urine-marking, spraying, barking and howling, mounting, fighting, and roaming while in heat. Minimizing such behaviors reduces the dangers a pet faces and also enhances its chances of living a long life.

Because the procedures are beneficial, many veterinarians and clinics spay and neuter pets for minimal fees. The Pet Clinic on Main Street charges between $75 and $100 for a procedure.

“The variance is mainly due to the size of the breed, which affects the amount of anesthetics needed,” Rozell said. “We have modern medications and anesthesia, a registered tech in the room, and safety is closely monitored. We also provide pain meds for the animal.”

The Humane Society of Cherokee County hosts clinics to spay and neuter pets in households earning less than $25,000 a year.

“We have a scale, the maximum being around $30 if income is $25,000,” said LaNelle McCully of the HSCC. “Dr. William Elliott performs procedures on cats and female dogs weighing less than 30 pounds once a month, and his next clinic is Sunday. Dr. Amber Horn can schedule male dogs and larger dogs on Thursdays. About 20 to 60 procedures are done each month. The cost includes a rabies vaccination.”

Those seeking procedures for their pets can call the HSCC at (918) 457-7997 and leave a message. Each pe owner should bring a tax return, bank statement or disability check to prove income.

“Those eligible will be contacted and placed on a list to visit the clinic,” McCully said. “It isn’t necessary, but we ask that they pay in advance at Dr. Elliott’s office or the HSCC Resale Shop. If for any reason someone leaves a message and doesn’t hear back from us, we ask they please call back. Our volunteers don’t want to overlook anyone.”

Other potential costs can be avoided with spaying and neutering. For instance, it is much more expensive to treat males for injuries sustained in fights, or a female with reproductive system cancer. There are no expenses associated with caring for litters, and spayed and neutered animals usually cause less property damage.

“I just charged $500 for an unaltered pit mix that disappeared for a week and came back with injuries from fighting,” Rozell said. “Paying $75 can save a lot of money later.”

Rabbits are notorious for their rates of reproduction. Animal shelters often house unwanted rabbits, and the Humane Society suggests pet rabbits be spayed or neutered.

As with dogs and cats, neutered males are less aggressive, and spayed females are less likely to develop cancers in the reproductive organs.


Text Only
Local News
  • ths-jazz-2.jpg THS jazz band gets up early to hone performance skills

    It means getting up an hour earlier, and it doesn’t count as a class, but the jazz band at Tahlequah High School enjoys the dedication of a group of enthusiastic students.
    The THS Jazz Band practices every day at 7 a.m., an hour before the start of classes. It numbers 17, and is led by Director Orien Landis.
    “They have to do this before school and they get no class credit, but we have a full band,” Landis said. “They are really excited about this.”

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Easter-basket-kid.jpg Easter traditions date back centuries

    Some Christians may lament a partial shift of focus, but a Christian holy day - perhaps the most holy of all – is this Sunday, and it will be marked with celebrations all around the world.
    The Christian holiday of Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. For centuries, the observant have fasted, reflected or done penance in the weeks leading to the holiday. But today, many also associate the holiday with the Easter bunny, candy, and kites. In 2013, Americans spent $2.1 billion on Easter candy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Some oppose minimum wage hike; others decry strong-arming by state

    President Barack Obama and the U.S. Senate recently announced a push to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour, to $10.10. On the heels of the announcement, an initiative petition was introduced in Oklahoma City to raise the minimum wage to the suggested $10.10. If it gained 80,000 signatures, it would be put to a vote of the people.
    This legislative session, a bill passed prohibiting municipalities from setting a minimum was or vacation and sick-day requirements. Gov. Mary Fallin signed the bill into law earlier this week.

    April 18, 2014

  • Phone scam takes $500 from couple

    Authorities are warning Cherokee County residents to watch for a costly phone scam that recently targeted a local couple and ended in their loss of $500.
    According to sheriff’s deputies, a couple contacted authorities after losing $500 to the scam. The couple received a phone call from a man who identified himself only as “Mr. Green.” He told the couple they had won $1.5 million through Publisher’s Clearing House, but to collect the money, the couple would have to purchase a $500 money card to cover various fees.

    April 18, 2014

  • Missing local teen found dead

    The body of a missing 17-year-old boy was found in southern Cherokee County on Thursday, sheriff’s investigators said.
    Brikk Pritchett was reported missing earlier this month after disappearing on March 30, a day before his 17th birthday.

    April 18, 2014

  • ts honor flight 1.tif Flight of honor

    World War II veteran Charles Harra flew missions for the Army Air Corps, and if you ask him which flight was his most memorable, he’ll say it was his 35th mission.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man charged after leading authorities on wild chase

    Prosecutors have formally charged a man who allegedly led authorities on a wild high-speed pursuit across Cherokee County in late March.

    April 17, 2014

  • Sex offender bonds out after failing to register

    A Cherokee County man is out on bond after being arrested last week for failing to register as a sex offender.

    April 17, 2014

  • jn radiator shop.jpg ‘Greenbelt’ progressing

    Crews this week began to demolish an abandoned radiator shop at the corner of South Street and Guinn Avenue.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts slut walk.tif SlutWalk shines spotlight on crime

    “Two, four, six, eight, stop the violence, stop the rape; slut, slut, ho, ho, yes means yes and no means no!”
    This was the battle cry across the campus of Northeastern State University, as the student branch of the American Association of University Women held its third annual SlutWalk Wednesday.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo


What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez Dead at 87 Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later