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29 November 2012


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Here here. :) Another great post! Thanks so much for producing such excellent content. I will be sharing a bunch of your posts on Twitter soon.

Linda Hobbet

I also tell people that there is nothing innately irresponsible about having intact dogs. What is irresponsible is having unplanned litters. Personally I think neutering male dogs has very little impact on populations. Unprotected females in season have a good chance of getting bred even if most males in the area are neutered. Females who are spayed or protected when in season will not get bred even if all the males in the area are intact. I suspect the drive to neuter male dogs is a byproduct of feminism, which holds that men and women have equal responsibility for avoiding unwanted pregnancies. I agree completely when it comes to people, but when it comes to dogs neither males or females are responsible for avoiding unwanted litters. We, the humans, are the responsible ones.

Rebecca Gavin

From what I understand to be true, and you may correct me if wrong, the NKE is not all that successful. Shelter's are overflowing, and warehousing animals for long periods of time. There simply aren't enough resources at many of these shelters to provide a decent level of care for all of the animals they accept, and, from what I understand many, if not most, no kill shelters do NOT have an open acceptance policy. They refuse animals that they don't think are adoptable, or when they are full. This, from what I have heard, leads to animals being dumped and suffering or being killed or injured by other animals or by cars, or people. I have read that no kill shelters often have to resort to practically giving animals away, which leads to people taking animals who really are not equipped to care for them, and in some cases, end up abandoning the animals in a few years, when the animal is older and less adoptable. I have nothing against increasing adoptions, I foster dogs for a local rescue. But it seems to me that NKN expends a lot of it's resources attacking other animal advocacy organizations, only one of which, to my knowledge, is actually opposed to people keeping pets on a philosophical basis.

And the idea that advocacy for neutering male dogs is a product of feminism is ludicrous. Obviously, if a female dog gets pregnant, an intact male got her that way. Intact males will go to great lengths to get to a female in heat, leading to lost and injured animals. Unless someone keeps their intact male in the house at all times, there is a possibility he can get away.

And the NKN association with breeders is appalling. Even though the party line is that NKN does not support breeding and puppy mills, the actions seem to say otherwise.


Rebecca, you're wrong. The NKE is the only method that's ever worked to end animal population control killing.

You reference shelters -- the NKE is not about shelters, it's about communities. It's about a change in animal control policy, to end the use of killing for homeless dogs and cats.

Bad sheltering is bad sheltering, whether its' being practiced by shelters that call themselves "no kill" or shelters that don't. Why is it that abusive practices in kill shelters don't discredit kill sheltering, but any shelter that calls itself "no kill" that has the exact same problems is always used to discredit no kill?

As to breeding, I support good breeding of companion and working dogs and cats, so you may consider me apalling if you wish.


I didn't realize there was a debate. I thought the two go hand in hand, that we need to promote spaying & neutering more so that more animals get adopted because there will be less in the shelters that need homes?

Catahoula Girl

This is my first comment on your wonderful blog, which I recently discovered. I think you make a great point here about animal advocates wasting precious energy arguing with one another. All of these programs are important. We should seek transparency and not blame the victim -- the public -- for what incompetent animal shelter leaders are doing.

An important piece of the puzzle we are just now implementing at our shelters is "RTO" return-to-owner. On average, 80% of dogs and 98% of cats coming into shelters never see their original owner again. Assumptions are made that animals coming into shelters are neglected, abandoned, unwanted, but none of this is proven. A concerted effort to improve reclaim rates by even a small percentage would equal thousands fewer animals needing to be rehomed by shelters.

mary francis

Thanks for the reasoned blog. My experience has been with women (mostly women) who have devoted their retirement lives to spaying and nuetering programs. Adoptions with these programs are a side-line. (Except for one women who is an exceptional exception)

The S/N people I know are an action- oriented group - I think they feel more productive doing s/n and get instant results. They don't want to fight the powers that be (not that they don't know about the powers that be)Unfortunately that's what we as a society are up against with the Animal Control Kill culture. Feels like Sysiphus (?) pushing the boulder uphill...but the push has to happen.

Tony Porcaro

This is a fallacious argument: it makes no sense whatsoever to speak in terms of adoption VS spay/neuter programs...unless one insists on being short-sighted and not looking at the common goal which is to stop the killing; whether the animal is already in a shelter that will kill it or will be part of an unwanted litter which will be born only to face a death sentence in that same shelter means that it is about saving lives in every way possible...and that presupposes that both adoptions and spay/neuter programs WORK TOGETHER as vital parts of any NO-KILL equation; those of us practising TNR as part of our no-kill philosophy know this fact very well as we endeavour to keep savable strays and ferals from entering the shelter system in the first place; and we utilize every means at our disposal to accomplish this: feral kittens being very adoptable, in many cases even socialized adult ferals can be adopted, and,of course, there are many who won't be adopted but RETURNED to live in THEIR COMMUNITIES of managed and well cared for feral colonies where they will no longer add to the overpopulation crisis; and let us make clear, once again, that the NUMBER ONE reason people(the majority of whom want to do the right thing) don't get their animals "fixed" is the lack of affordable S/N fees and most companion animals or pets are, in fact, "fixed" by their RESPONSIBLE owners; and furthermore, statistics coming from the low cost S/N clinics such as in Newmarket and Barrie show that about 80% of their clients come from the rescue and TNR organizations who are obviously the ones who have been and are doing the most to stop the killing.


Christie - I don't think I've ever been aware of a disagreement between S/N advocates and those who focus on shelter rescue for the purpose of adopting those animals out. It really is part of a whole package - a harm reduction model, if you will. The bulk of unplanned or accidental dog pregnancies really do originate within communities where spay/neuter surgeries are beyond the economic reach of the family. There is far more desire now, to spay and neuter, than ever before, as more people find out how tough it is to breed animals well. So, education in those communities is key - education about the health benefits for female dogs and the difficulties and cost of raising good, healthy pups. Keeping pets in their homes - safely - is all part of the spay/neuter solution. So that they never end in the shelters in the first place. Many people I work with through my non profit Paw Fund are desperate not to have their dog get pregnant. But it is amazing how few people know what a dog in heat looks or sounds like, amazing that they 'didn't realise' that siblings or mother and son would mate, incredible that they didn't know that their yard was not completely enclosed and the neighbour dog got in. Then there's the issue of being squeamish about spaying once the dog is pregnant.
One of the interest groups you don't mention is the for profit veterinary industry - vaccines and spay/neuter are life savers - and should be readily available at low cost. Yet, the cost of surgery is often prohibitive. I don't see S/N as a conflict with adoption - it's a partnership, and takes all of us.

Peter A Reese

This article is dead on and no animal was killed in its production.

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