Spay it forward: The benefits of spaying and neutering

Spay it forward: The benefits of spaying and neutering

Author: Dr Ben Howitt

Surgical sterilisation in our domesticated animals is considered a necessary intervention to manage the growing population of animals worldwide.

Whilst there are more and more ways to prevent mating and conception in pets (such as implants), these are not available, affordable, nor practical in the majority of the world, and certainly not for stray or free-roaming dogs.

Additionally, surgical sterilisation is a permanent intervention. Therefore, all of our projects worldwide focus on making members of the public and communities aware of the benefits of the procedure, why it is important for the animals’ health, and critical for managing their welfare.

In 2023, we sterilised over 26,000 animals across our projects, helping to reduce the number of unwanted litters and health-associated clinical issues in free-roaming animals.

What is surgical sterilisation?

Surgical sterilisation is the permanent removal of the animal’s reproductive organs through surgical intervention. It is the most common surgical procedure performed in the veterinary profession. With females, this is called a spay (ovariohysterectomy) and is the removal of the ovaries and uterus.

What is the process of sterilisation with WVS?

In all of our projects, our objectives are to make a noticeable large-scale impact to the environment we are in, looking to sterilise a large volume of animals in any given area. Nonetheless, the experience of the individual animal remains a top priority for their welfare, and our work is constantly evolving in order to accommodate a more personalised positive experience for each animal.

WVS currently operates five International Training Centres (ITCs) in India, Thailand, Malawi, and Ecuador, that train veterinary students and surgeons to an international standard of surgery. In one of our centres in India alone, the team sterilise up to 800 animals per month.

We also have the WVS Veterinary Taskforce, a critical section of our global impact, where our veterinary staff travel into areas around the world to train local vets and students in ‘Best Practice’ surgery, anaesthesia, and animal welfare.

What are the benefits of sterilisation?

  1. It is a key method of humane population control, reducing the number of unwanted animals on the streets and the spread of infectious diseases.

  2. It is a permanent intervention, and so there is no risk of unwanted litters.

  3. Performed under international standards of surgery, of which WVS teaches, it is fast, pain-free, and results in rapid recoveries.

  4. It can help reduce undesirable behaviour associated with intact animals, such as aggression, roaming, and pack-like behaviour in urban environments.

  5. It reduces the suffering associated with TVT (transmissible venereal tumour), and ovarian, uterine, and testicular cancers.

One of the key objectives of WVS is to focus on the welfare, health, and conflicts that arise from a growing population of domesticated animals on the streets. Whilst this growing concern requires a multifactorial approach that we do employ, sterilisation is a key intervention that has a tangible impact on this at the roots of the problem.

How can I get involved?

As a veterinary professional: From Botswana to Fiji, we're in need of passionate and committed veterinary volunteers to support spay and neuter programmes globally. Experienced vets and vet nurses can also help to train a future generation of vets by joining us at one of our ITCs. View all programmes here.

As an animal lover: Support a life-changing mission to provide accessible veterinary care around the world. Whether you'd like to give a donationsign up to volunteer, or start a fundraiser, there are many great ways to get involved and help animals today. Discover more ways to support WVS here.

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