Roger Salmon column

Around 7,00 stray dogs were euthanised in 2012, around half due to ill health or because they were a banned breed and the rest because they had no home to go to.

With the increasing demand on charities to look after abandoned pets there is less space and resources.

An overall reduction in homeless pets would mean fewer unwanted animals being put to sleep.

The veterinary profession is looking for solutions to the unwanted pet problem and one way is to encourage neutering.

Estimates may vary but it seems around half of animal pregnancies are unplanned.

They produce kittens and puppies that family and friends can’t resist but many owners are unprepared for living with an adolescent dog, don’t attend training classes or teach a puppy basic good manners.

A badly behaved adolescent dog is very likely to end up homeless or euthanised.

If homes can’t be found for any offspring they may remain in the household with all the strains this can bring.

The stresses caused by many cats living together are becoming better known but dogs can suffer too and can seriously injure each other if there is conflict.

Many owners don’t realise that kittens can breed from the age of four months or that brothers and sisters will mate.

Nor do they recognise the signs of oestrus (on heat) of dogs and cats.

Nor do people realise that mating can occur without being ‘tied’ at mating.

Neutering can be a positive experience, usually just a day experience, with post surgical pain adequately controlled.

One of the main advantages is that neutering prevents pyometra (womb infection) and mammary tumours which can be responsible for the deaths of numerous dogs and cats.

Neutering increases life expectancy and reduces stress levels thus improving the quality of life.

Castration in cats reduces spraying in the house, makes them less likely to wander and get into road accidents or involved in fights.

Reducing the problem of unwanted pets will allow charities to concentrate their efforts on finding homes.