By Jean Sutherland

     Early Sterilization Program is now being practiced in Mexico. The shelter has been fortunate in finding a vet in Guadalajara that supports early sterilization. Let’s look at the facts.
     Early neutering, prior to 5-7 months of age, has slowly developed over the past years to help alleviate the pet over-population problem. Eliminating undesirable behavior is the most common reason for neutering male animals. Male specific activities such as urine marking, mounting and inter-male aggression are markedly reduced or eliminated in 50-60% of dogs as a result of neutering. Behavior patterns common in both males and females, such as watchdog barking, playfulness and attention seeking are not affected by neutering. No basic personality or behavioral changes occur as a result of neutering ... except the less desirable male habits which may be eliminated or at least reduced. Male dogs and cats that are neutered before puberty usually will not develop undesirable behavior.
     At an animal shelter in Medford, Oregon, over 8000 puppies and kittens neutered at 8-12 weeks have shown no undesirable effects. Questions regarding the appropriate age to perform gonadectomy and the safety of anesthetizing young puppies have been addressed and published. One study comparing the effects of neutering puppies at seven weeks to those neutered at seven months, found that neutering at either age produced similar effects on physical, skeletal and behavioral development. Neutering did not affect food intake or weight gain. Neutering did not result in inactivity or lethargy, in fact, all neutered dogs were assessed by their caretakers to be more active than their sexually intact counterpart. They also found that prepuberal gonadectomy does not stunt growth; indeed, it contributes to growth enhancement.
     At the shelter we rarely can take advantage of spaying an 8-week-old puppy or kitten. Most come to us with weakened immune systems and are just not strong enough to survive the surgery. As we work to build them up to healthy pets we look forward to getting them spayed or neutered. Our vet in Guadalajara charges 150 pesos to spay a puppy. If you can afford to help spay or neuter a young animal please call me at 766-2695 after 7 p.m. or email me at the address above, or Jill at 765-4551. We would be glad to pick up a donation. Please put it in an envelope and mark Cat or Dog on it and we will spay the animal of your choice. You can also drop off an envelope to Anita at the Tiangis (market) on Wednesday or at the shelter in San Juan Cosala.
     Can you spare $15 US to help keep our area free of unwanted pets? Donations can also be made online: