Monday, December 28, 2009


The fine folks over at Pit Bull Patriarchy have a wonderful, thought-provoking post that I've been stewing over, about reproductive organs, and what it means to hack 'em off of our dogs, especially pit bulls. And even better, spotted dog farm finds a way to tie the awesome and quirky Antony and the Johnsons into the mix. There are two main points: the invasive surgeries used to sterilize pets are not necessary, and the less invasive surgeries like vasectomies are tubal ligations ARE possible. spotted dog farm writes:
IMO the seeming "need" for cutting out all these organs has more to do with vets making money, coupled with the typical pet owner's desire to infantilize pets, and along with that, an anxiety around sexuality that is triggered by our pets' all-too-visible genitalia.

She follows up with a statement that rings very true for me, as I'm totally guilty of it:
but those examples are nothing compared to the ugly stares you get if you walk an uncastrated male pit bull around town. apparently dog balls (and especially pit bull balls) engender a lot of horror, not to mention lectures from spay/neuter advocates. i just want to say, "what's the matter, you've never seen nuts before?!"

I look at the back of almost every dog, sometimes I even guess before I look. And I feel all kinds of feelings when I see balls, especially pit bull balls. There are too many of them. Way too many of them. And it's true, the balls annoy me. I wish they weren't there. This isn't about the balls, obviously, it's about me. About my job, about the numbers of dogs (especially pit bulls), about the people, that I see. And, it's about the balls. My sister is currently in possession of a possible future dog-to-be who is currently in possession of his balls. We had a conversation about his balls, which are primarily obscured by his hair, and how wonderful that is. We agreed that balls, unobscured by hair, were something we weren't interested in living with. Infantilizing? Probably. Not needing extra, non-human secondary sex characteristics in the house? Definitely. The behavior stuff, whether exaggerated or not, sure. I wouldn't want a female dog who came into heat, either. That's just too much.

When my parents came back from a trip in Europe a couple months ago, they told me they noticed two, seemingly conflicting things: that most of the dogs that they saw were intact, and that most of the dogs appeared to be purebred. In other words, although few dogs appeared fixed, it appeared that this was not causing the rampant irresponsible breeding that it seems to cause here. It is widely considered "common knowledge" in the blogosphere that Europeans "don't spay and neuter" as much, but I'm unable to find any policies or laws discouraging s/n. There is a covenant in place in the EU that bans docking/cropping/debarking/declawing, but does not include invasive sterilization procedures. (If you know of any policies in any EU countries AGAINST s/n, I'd love to see them.)

At this point, I'm professionally still all about s/n. I talk it and walk it, and explain why, without exaggerating or lying. There's no need for that. People are smart and should be told the truth. (And there's LOTS of lying and hyperbole when it comes to discussing why you should neuter your animal.) When it comes to mandatory s/n, well, I've lived that for two years, and I think that it's pretty ineffective, and when BSL comes into it, it's totally bunk. It's complicated, and a subject for another day, but I've never seen a mandatory s/n law that I liked. (The Santa Cruz ordinance worked fine for me- exemptions were so easy to get that the opponents of mandatory s/n would really have nothing to complain about, in my opinion). But really, it's about education and access to low cost clinics. (Seen all the hype lately about the overflow of chihuahuas in the Bay Area? Yeah, talk about not fixing your pets! I think this is mostly about lots and lots and lots of chihuahuas and small dogs of-non-specific-breeding running in and out of their fences and making lots and lots more small non-specific-chihuahua-type dogs. Not Hollywood, so much, but education and access.) But personally, I hear all the arguments, and I understand why a responsible person would want to keep parts on their pet. Well, intellectually I understand it. Personally, I'm going for the neuter.


KHB said...

Thank god for hair balls. Although I hear they might be going away as soon as January. I wonder if dogs are more likely to sit like a frog if they have balls? That might be an interesting study.

Running With Dogs said...

I always look for balls, and I usually make a presumption before I look (and rarely am I surprised). I don't have a problem with balls, but I do have a problem with people who let their dogs use their balls for evil (over-breeding, poor-breeds).

One thing that I do want to say is that vets don't remove the entire organs to make money. They do it for the health and safety of an animal . While human doctors can easily perform vasectomies, veterinary doctors cannot. It is much more time consuming (read: more time under anesthesia) for the vet to do a vasectomy or a tubal ligation. There are many blood vessels that go to those organs, and cutting one could remove the blood supply and cause the organ to die inside the body - not a good thing. Some vets will perform those procedures, but they charge a lot more money for them then they do simple s/n.

Also, with the low cost options around, vets don't make their "bread and butter" on s/n. It's a one time fee...and with more people adopting already altered animals, many don't even perform that many any more.

themacinator said...

I was wondering about the feasibility of vasectomies- doesn't seem very convenient, tho maybe like pediatric s/n it could become a reality?

I did see a bunch of stuff about chemical castration in the works?

spotted dog farm said...

thanks for the linkage and the great discussion! it's true that balls can be a little overwhelming in any species. hope you are having happy holidays btw :D

one of my favorite artsy bloggers is swedish and she wrote a number of posts about her dog's recovery after having her uterus removed. it seemed like a *much* bigger deal to her than we typically make of it here. this was just the first of many posts on morran's surgery:

so i got to looking around online and found this info on sweden's recent ban on spay/neuter, and repeal of the ban:

wish there was more info... hopefully your readers will chime in.