Tuesday, March 21, 2017

No... castration is NOT the same as a vasectomy...

Today's blog post is brought to you by a dumb comment from an American that I read today.  Here it is.

The difference is males only have their furballs snipped off. Females have their insides removed. Imagine the difference between a human male having a vasectomy and a woman having a hysterectomy. One is done at an office visit the other is full-blown surgery. The males always have it easier 



The above comment is in reference to a thread in a local Facebook group about dogs getting "fixed".  I have mentioned before on at least one of my blogs that here in Germany, animals aren't as likely to be spayed or neutered.  More than once, a European has been confused when looking at Zane's and Arran's genitals.  They expect to see testicles hanging there and are surprised when they don't see them.  Nevertheless, we Americans are all over spaying and neutering, to the point at which some people are very nonchalant about the surgery, particularly for male animals.

Now... I totally understand why Americans tend to be hyper-vigilant about spaying and neutering their pets.  We have a serious problem with pet overpopulation in the United States.  A lot of rescues and animal shelters require that any animal adopted through them is spayed or neutered.  It's very common for an American dog or cat to be "fixed" well before they have fully matured.

In Europe, many vets recommend waiting until the pet is fully grown before spaying and neutering.  This is because sex organs provide hormones that are necessary for normal development.  Moreover, there is evidence that dogs that are fixed too soon may be at an increased risk of developing cancer.  Surprisingly enough, in Norway, it's actually illegal to spay or neuter unless there is a medical reason to do so.  

I've been learning more about spaying and neutering lately because four of my dogs have had cancer at relatively young ages.  In the course of learning about spaying and neutering, I found out that dogs can get vasectomies and ovary sparing spays.  And those procedures leave the reproductive system in the animal, but make it impossible for them to breed.  Vasectomies and ovary sparing spays have their drawbacks.  For instance, if a male dog gets a vasectomy, he'll still have sexual urges and it will take some time for him to get rid of all of his sperm.  But, he won't be able to father puppies and will still have those hormones produced by his sexual organs.  Female dogs who have an ovary sparing spay will still act like they are in heat and will be attractive to intact male dogs, but they won't have any significant discharge.

Anyway, I suppose I could have responded to the above comment in our American group with the above information.  In fact, I was very tempted to do that.  Ultimately, I decided not to chime in to that lady's comment because this is a rather controversial subject and I don't want to spend the rest of the day arguing with people about it.  So I'm posting here, because I feel compelled to vent my spleen.

Besides the fact that castration and vasectomy are definitely not the same procedure, I guess I was just taken aback that this lady is so blase about a dog having his "furballs snipped off".  I guess castration is a "walk in the park" if they aren't your balls being removed.  However, while a female dog gets internal parts removed and that's certainly not easy, I hesitate to dismiss what the poor male dog goes through when he gets castrated.  Obviously, if you're a person, you don't know how the dog feels.  But, if you're a human male and you have your nuts cut off, wouldn't that be kind of traumatic?  What human male would prefer having his testicles completely removed as opposed to a vasectomy?

For the record, I am in favor of spaying and neutering.  I certainly don't like the idea of dogs being put down because no one wants them.  I just think it's time Americans rethink when they get that procedure done on their pets.  I also think more vets should offer alternative procedures that allow the animals to retain their sex organs as opposed to completely desexing them.  

Although we have a significant problem with teen pregnancy in our country, it would be ridiculous to suggest sterilizing teenagers at risk for reproducing too early.  Why?  Because it's unethical and potentially unhealthy.  As a matter of fact, if you're a human adult under a certain age, many doctors won't want to do a tubal ligation or vasectomy on you because someday, you might want to have children.  Even if you seriously wanted to get yourself "fixed", there's a good chance that your physician will try to discourage you from doing it unless you've already had kids or are over a certain age.     

Naturally, dogs and cats are not the same as human beings.  We do have a terrible problem with pet overpopulation.  However, I submit that animals have reproductive organs for a biological reason, just like humans do.  And while not every pet needs to reproduce, they do have a need for those body parts that we so carelessly remove when the animal is still growing.

Off my soapbox now...  although I still badly want to shake that woman and ask her if she thinks any creature with balls thinks that having them "snipped off" is no big deal.  

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