Has the number of stray cats and dogs gone down?

Since Bob Barker made it a mission of his to tell people to spay and neuter pets, also the price of a vacation in Bora Bora with a ‘6’ in the price, I’ve noticed a lot of campaigns and PSA’s on limiting stray pet births and only adopting from a shelter or certified breeder. Has any of that cut down the number of strays? Or are we fighting a losing battle?

Other factors overwhelm what you’re looking for.

E.g., in our area the number of strays have gone way down. Coyotes have moved into the region.

In some places, the local population of bobcats, cougars, etc. has gone up and are a problem for pet owners.

Even trying to count only the number of animals that end up at the local animal control shelter isn’t going to be meaningful. Populations changes (number of people and economic status), the number and activity of local rescue groups (which would be hard to count), etc.

It depends. There are many parts of the US where there are no stray dogs at all, primarily due to complete intolerance of dogs running loose unescorted. Feral cats continue to be big problem across the country.
There are still millions of dogs and cats euthanized every year, but most of these animals were dropped off at shelters by owners who decided they were disposable, and therefore they were never strays.

I would guess that CSR (Catch-Sterilize-Release) programs are probably more effective at cutting down on the feral cat population than pet owners spaying and neutering their snoogum-woogums. That’s really just a WAG, though (no pun intended).

Most counties in Indiana have a couple of different programs that make it easier to get pets fixed. Where we live now, if your income is below a certain level, you can buy a certificate from the Humane Society that you present to a vet (and I haven’t found one yet who doesn’t participate in the program), and the vet will fix your animal. The certificate costs $25. The county pays for any costs above $25 that is costs to fix your animal. Even if their are complications, and a $40 procedure ends up costing $200, you pay just $25.

In the county where we used to live, all the animals adopted out of the humane society’s shelter had been fixed. It meant that none of the puppies and kittens turned over could be adopted until 12 weeks (old enough for the surgery plus recovery), and that meant they were old enough for their first shots, so they got those as well. The adoption fee went up from something like $20 to $60, but the animals are also microchipped; if you took a kitten you got from a neighbor to the vet to be fixed, get first shots, and a microchip, it would cost a lot more than $60.

This has made the “Oops” pregnancies drop significantly.

People still have “Oops” pregnancies with their pedigreed animals, but they tend to do a better job of finding homes for them.

People still dump animals. We adopted several dumped animals that were running stray, but obviously from their state of cleanliness, the fact that they looked well-fed, and they came right to us, had been with people before. We used to live out in the woods in a part of town where college students dumped animals they couldn’t take care of anymore. We got some great animals that way, though.

I think one thing that gives the impression of fewer strays is that people don’t let their animals run loose like they used to. When I was a kid, I knew all the dogs in the neighborhood, and they’d all come to me when I called their names. There wa only one mean one, and he stayed in his yard; as long as I stayed out of his yard, he left me alone. I take that back-- there was a really mean Chihuahua, but he couldn’t do much damage. Cats lounged around outside as well, although they didn’t stray far from their own yards.

People keep their animals in now. They either have fenced in yards for their dogs, or they walk then on leashes, and cats are now mostly indoor cats. So we see many fewer animals, but a lot of what we’re seeing is fewer pets running loose.

But yes, I do think that there are fewer genuinely stray cats and dogs.

That is the biggest difference. Responsible pet owners don’t let their pets run around unsupervised, therefore they also don’t have unwanted pregnancies.
Spaying and neutering dogs, particularly at young ages, has been shown to cause a lot of heath problems, everything from joint problems, obesity, and recurrent UTIs to extremely elevated cancer rates, so I suspect this approach to pet overpopulation will be taken off the table soon in favor of simply not letting your pets run free to get squashed by cars and end up pregnant. Vasectomies and other less invasive methods to control animal reproduction are being introduced.
The biggest problem, however, is owners who think animals are disposable and get a cute puppy or kitten and then toss it whenever it becomes even mildly inconvenient.
Strays aren’t really a problem anymore in most places except for feral cats.

“Spaying and neutering dogs, particularly at young ages, has been shown to cause a lot of heath problems”

I raised my eyebrows at this, especially since no cite was quoted, so I looked it up. There are several ‘studies’ that appear to show these results, but they seem to relate specifically to the, largely American, practice of neutering pets at 6 weeks.

In the UK, and as far as I know, the rest of Europe, the operation is delayed until the organs are fully developed at around six months. This does not give rise to the problems described. On the upside, it removes all the risks from whelping and other related problems.

In the UK, I see fewer uncontrolled dogs these days. There is a council estate (public housing scheme) near me, and I was loth to walk through it because of the pack of feral dogs. These days, all dogs have an identity chip or they can be impounded (usually a death sentence). Dogs identifies as dangerous like pit bulls etc have to be under control and muzzled.

Of course, no one seems to be able to control the feline population.

My father used to tell a story of the army farrier who gelded horses using the two brick method. When asked “doesn’t it hurt?” He would reply, “Only if you catch your thumbs in between them.”

What is the “two brick method”?

It is not spaying or neutering in general, but younger spaying and neutering, that has been associated with some health issues later on.

Now, the biggest studies done in pet health have concluded that sterilized animals tend to live longer overall than intact animals. Cite 1, and cite 2.

There have been some studies that have found some associations between early spaying/neutering and some conditions later on, but they tend to be smaller in size than the above studies, plus usually limited to breed conditions. Now, if I had a dog that was in one of the studied breeds, that may have made me pause and discuss the pros and cons with my veterinarian, but in terms of stray population control… Nope.

One guy shits his pants, so everyone wears a diaper.

If you get a puppy or kitten by taking in a stray off the street, or getting a “pet quality” animal from a breeder, or taking in one from your neighbors “Oops” litter, the vet will recommend fixing around 6 months. This has the best outcome. It’s associated with the greatest longevity, longer than animals fixed at 8 weeks, longer than unfixed animals.

However, shelters used to make people who adopted an animal sign a contract that they would spay or neuter by 6 months, and they would send in proof from the vet that it had been done. People didn’t do it. Some people did, but enough didn’t, that the shelters were using up resources going after people, and they could impose a fine, but by the time they’d collected it, they’d spent more than the fine amounted to. Plus, they really didn’t want the fine, they wanted the animal fixed.

So now shelter kittens and puppies are fixed very young, and not adopted out until afterwards. One guy shits his pants; everyone wears a diaper.

Use your imagination and wince…:slight_smile:

Grab a brick in each hand. Clap them together as hard as you can with the soon-to-be-geldees testicles in between.

Yes, it’s a joke. There’s no safe place to stand while doing that.

Old joke. I know of no evidence that slamming two bricks together with the testicles between them was ever seriously practiced as a castration method, though there seem to be a lot of joking references to it.

Definitely losing in Detroit.
I saw a documentary on TV about a group of people using drones w/ cameras to get a handle on the MANY packs of stray dogs in Detroit.
They showed footage from a drone flying over the long abandoned Packard (auto) plant.
They said there is at least 1,000 stray dogs in Detroit. They said a lot of them were because people left their dogs behind when they moved away.

“Irresponsible behavior. Deep in this species it runs. Out without parental supervision not they should be.” sayeth the sage Yoda.

Supposedly the cat population around here is decreasing due to increasing coyote population.

And we have a county-wide leash law now, so people will call Animal Control about roaming dogs.

Big NO. Neutering has serious adverse health outcomes, particularly if performed before full maturity (2 or 3 years old). How many cites do I need to post? I’ll stop with these. I have lots more.

These are the ones that are breed specific, with a smaller pool, than the two articles I cited. They also specify the problems were seen in early neutering (defined as less than 12 months/1 year), and later neutering (after this date, not after 2 or 3 years).

Again, if you own one of the specific breeds that has been studied, this should give you pause and to be discussed with the veterinarian. But in terms of population control, it may not have an effect. The articles that I cited about the fact that sterilized dogs live longer canvassed thousands of animals over years.

There are hundreds of other studies showing the adverse health impact of neutering at any age other than the ones I cited; I cited two of the most recent articles plus a review on the topic that covers the pros and cons. I suggest you read it. It’s not about longevity per se, it’s about quality of life.

In addition to the cancer risks etc. it is also about joint health. If you neuter a dog before full maturity its growth plates don’t close at the correct times, causing certain bones to be “the wrong length” for that dog. This makes the joints not match up perfectly, predisposing the dog to arthritis and CCL tears. In addition, neutering a do dramatically increases the risk of the dog becoming obese, and dog obesity is currently a big problem in the US. You might say, well that’s the owner’s fault, which is in part true, but several studies have shown that in order to keep a spayed female at a healthy weight she has to eat 1/3 the amount of food and get double the exercise of an intact female. Most people can’t manage to make the necessary changes. Spayed females are also likely to become incontinent, which is a big problem.

The current general consensus on the topic is that if you care about your dog’s health, you do not castrate males at all. For female dogs it is a bit less clear. It is clear that spaying should not be done until the dog has stopped growing (age 2 for most dogs). The uterus needs to be removed at some point to eliminate the risk of pyrometra; removing the ovaries may or may not be good idea. If your dog is a cancer-prone breed, you might want to keep those ovaries in there.

There is currently open warfare going on between the radical animal rescues and the dog sporting community. People who perform sports with their dogs need a dog with good bone structure, and you can’t get a dog with good bone structure if you neuter the dog before full maturity. Many people used to get their agility dogs from rescues, but nowadays you can’t get an intact dog from a rescue no matter what.

Doing a vasectomy on males and simply removing the uterus in females prevents unwanted breeding without risking the animal’s health, and I think that is where we are moving.

Read it. Again, breed-specific studies, outdated (decades old) articles, and written by someone who is not a veterinarian (she has an MS, but is not specified in what), which raises my suspicion.

Breed specific articles are the ones that have been done on this. The Golden Retriever, for example. Curiously, the same authors did a study with Labrador retrievers, and did not find the same results. Possibly relating to breed-specific issues, and should not be extrapolated.

Regarding urinary incontinence in females,the most recent review article I could find, has a good discussion about it. To start, the previous studies all put the incidence in as low as 5% or as high as 60%, with most around 20%. Also, it clearly includes some discussion as to how strong is the case for this correlation, as there is a metastudy that implicates that the case for it is relatively weak and base on retrospective studies and case reports. While the authors do feel there is a connection, they do mention that the greatest risk factor appears to be weight and spaying, meaning the heavier the dog is, the likelier (if she is spayed) that she will be incontinent. It even mentions that some articles have that while really early spaying (before 12 weeks) increase the risk, spaying just before puberty (around 4-6 months) decreases it.

Also, you seem to say that controlling what an animal eats may be hard, harder even than preventing them from having puppies? :dubious:

Consensus in what community?

Again, even the articles that you cited, and the articles I found that talk about neutering, specifically mention early neutering as before one year of age, meaning they didn’t find any difference as to if they were spayed or neutered at 12 months or 2 years. Still earlier than your cut off.

Also, what is done is not keeping the ovaries, but actually taking them out. Ovarioectomy is considered to be in some areas a better surgical procedure than full ovariohysterectomy.

Where? I don’t think that is where we are moving. I know there are attempts at non-surgical sterilization, but so far they have not been as effective (and with fewer side effects and complications) as surgical sterilization.

This is a more recent article than the ones you cited or I cited earlier. It is a good review, and I agree with the comments in it. From the article:

And this one is important and related to the thread: