It’s estimated that one dog or cat is put down every eight seconds in U.S. shelters, according to the Humane Society of the United States.
When Leigh Peterson of Ohio found herself posting ads trying to find homes for four puppies, she struggled with guilt.
“I felt like I was killing a dog in the pound every time someone came to see our puppies rather than go to a shelter,” said Leigh.
In the past, she had always preached how important spaying and neutering, vaccinating and investing in pet health insurance was. She volunteered at an animal shelter and considered herself fairly knowledgeable on pet health. “But when I started dating my boyfriend,” Leigh said, “he refused to get his dogs fixed.”
One day, when her boyfriend was out of town, he called and asked how everyone was. Leigh started to say how the dogs were fine and playing in the back yard, which was completely fenced-in. When she went to the window to look outside, she was shocked to find a strange male dog in the yard with their dog Abby. The two were mating.
“I stood there watching, telling him over the phone what was happening and resisting the urge to say I told you so,” said Leigh. “Even I had started to believe it was OK not to spay because I knew we were responsible pet owners. But this stray dog wanted in to our yard and found a way in.”
Sure enough, puppies were soon on the way. Leigh had to swallow her guilt and take control. She was releived they had purchased dog health insurance for their own dog, but now she had to focus on finding the best homes for the new pups.
The only thing in Leigh’s control now was making sure that these puppies didn’t further contribute to pet overpopulation. All the puppies were spayed and neutered before leaving her care. Although spaying females and neutering male dogs does not come without risk, it does offer some pet health benefits and reduces the urge to roam, like the male dog who found his way into Leigh’s fenced-in yard.
To help ensure that the puppies found good homes, the ads stated that the puppies would be fixed and an adoption fee was set at $50 per puppy. She screened all adopters and was able to keep in touch with them all, receiving pictures as the puppies grew.
When her boyfriend’s older dog developed a large tumor on her uterus, she was spayed, too. It was then his turn to feel guilt, as he could see that the surgery was much harder on a senior dog to recover from than it was for the puppies. From then on, he became a proponent of spaying and neutering, as well.