The Pet Vet says... Tuesday is Spay Day USA 2009 | February 20, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Living - February 20, 2009

The Pet Vet says... Tuesday is Spay Day USA 2009

by Dr. Franklin Utchen

As happens every year at this time, on Feb. 24 the East Bay SPCA will be joining with animal welfare organizations across the country for Spay Day USA 2009. The goal of this local event is to spay and neuter 100 dogs and cats. The SPCA is performing this service at no charge for qualifying lower income pet owners. Spay Day USA is a national campaign to promote spay/neuter as a simple, humane and effective way to end the tragedy of euthanizing homeless pets.

Last year more than 100 dogs and cats received free surgeries at the East Bay SPCA facility in Oakland. This year, veterinarians from San Ramon and Dublin (Dr. Leanne Taylor and Dr. Jim DeLano of Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center and Dr. Heidi Strand of the East Bay SPCA) will be working together to make this event possible.

During Spay Day USA's first 12 years, participants spayed or neutered an estimated 1,366,000 animals! When you consider that an unspayed cat can give birth to 18 kittens each year and an unspayed dog can give birth to 20 puppies each year, and that the average cost for shelters to handle each homeless animal is $176, it's clear that Spay Day USA participants have, potentially, prevented millions of surplus births and saved millions of taxpayer dollars.

Sadly, thousands of dogs and cats are euthanized every year in our local shelters, and nationwide the estimates range as high as 10 million dogs and cats euthanized in the United States annually. Yes, that means 10 million put to sleep last year, and again this year, and again next year, every year. It is really a number that is difficult to grasp.

Unless you have a purebred dog specifically intended for breeding, he or she should be neutered or spayed before they have a chance to reproduce. Dogs and cats enter puberty (yes, pets go through puberty just like their owners) when they are about 6 months old.

The spay or neuter surgery is an outpatient procedure, meaning a dog or cat comes in to the veterinary hospital for surgery and goes home a few hours later. The relative quickness and simplicity of the procedure, and the rapid recovery of most dogs and cats within a day or two, means there is no reason a healthy dog or cat, puppy or kitten, should not be spayed or neutered before they reach reproductive age.

This year on Spay Day USA in the Tri-Valley Area, the East Bay SPCA and Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center & Urgent Care will be partnering to perform 100 free spays and neuters at the SPCA's Oakland facility at 410 Hegenberger Road, Oakland, for qualifying residents of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. Information on this event can be obtained on the East Bay SPCA's Web site at, or by calling (510) 639-PETS (639-7387) to schedule an appointment.

--Dr. Franklin Utchen, shown with his dog Tory, has been practicing veterinary medicine in the San Ramon Valley since 1989 and currently co-owns Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center & Urgent Care. For questions or comments e-mail


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