For as long as I can remember, I have known that companion animals should be spayed and neutered. I have read the statistics, been shown the pictures of overcrowded shelters and puppy mills, and have handed out flyers at events. On Sunday, May 16th, I got to see a spay/neuter clinic in action.
The Massachusetts Animal Coalition sponsored a free spay/neuter day for pit bulls in Jamaica Plain, MA, at the MSPCA, and in downtown Boston, at the Animal Rescue League. I met some of the Braveheart Pit Bull Rescue Volunteers at the MSPCA. Each location could do a maximum of 10 pit bulls and each had 10 put bulls signed up.
I did not know what to expect. After all, I am accustomed to dropping my dog off for procedures and picking her up once she’s out of recovery. I certainly did not think I’d be allowed to observe the procedures.
When advocating spay/neuter, we always talk about the benefits to the dog in the long term. And, we are often met with concerns about putting your dog under for elective surgery. None of the dogs had issues with anesthesia. Nine of the dogs came out of anesthesia ready to get up and explore. One was happy to sleep. But he was alert and happy, just tired.
The procedures fascinated me. The vet I observed answered any questions I had, and told me how glad he was to be spending his morning doing these procedures. To a person, everyone there was thrilled that 10 dogs would no longer have the potential to add to pit bull homelessness in Boston.
One of the dogs I observed being spayed was in heat. That operation differed from the other spays in that there was more blood. But the vet said it was not a complication— that he’d rather spay a dog in heat than deliver that dog’s puppies in a few months. Neuters were simpler procedures. They took less time and there was less blood. None of the dogs had external stitches. The vet explained that they didn’t want to impose on the dogs’s families to have to bring the dog back in a week. In their experience, most wouldn’t.
The dogs were not only altered, if they were not up-to-date on their rabies and distemper, those vaccines were administered. They were tested for heartworm and were given their first dose of Heartguard, and a flea treatment.
I was surprised by the range of responses the dogs seemed to have coming out of anesthesia. One big boy took the longest to rouse, while another was up walking almost immediately after being roused. Two other boys were awake, but not moving about. Most of the female dogs showed little interest in doing anything but sleeping. All seemed comfortable, and none were pawing at their incisions.
This event was a great success. 20 pit bulls will not be adding to pit bull homelessness in Boston. 20 families have learned the value of spay/neuter. And the staff and volunteers at the MSPCA got to be involved with a free spay/neuter event that they are hoping to repeat again in a few months.