Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Should I desex my dog?

I believe so - as does Katherine Heigl, although for different reasons (apparently). A colleague sent me this link for a desexing campaign with a twist. Before I go on, I applaud the message behind the campaign, and I think Katherine H is a talented, beautiful comic who does disgust brilliantly...so much so that the clip was compelling.


I did wonder if this campaign is wide open to misinterpretation - specifically from people who hold the view (and they are out there) that desexing male dogs is some sort of attack on masculinity. A prominent ethicist I have collaborated with believed that desexing was vehemently promoted by predominantly females with rampant feminist ideals. 

I can say I've never met a vet who desexed dogs (male or female) for such reasons. The key motivation of course is population control - prevention of unwanted litters and animals who subsequently end up being euthanased as they cannot be accommodated in over-stretched shelters.

There are other benefits: elimination of the risk of testicular tumour and some prostate diseases such as benign prostatic hyperplasia, the risk of complicated UTIs, reduction in hormonally-driven aggression, roaming and sexual frustration and so on. (In females, the risk of pyometra is virtually eliminated, the risk of mammary cancer substantially reduced and of course unwanted pregnancies aren't an issue - and female vets are just as happy to desex female dogs as they are males).

My other issue with this campaign is that it alienates the responsible blokes who are man enough to have their dogs desexed - as neutering of male dogs is framed as an anti-testicle stance.

Finally, I don't agree that the motivation for desexing is that part of an animal is disgusting - nay, an object of hatred. I personally don't hate any part of any animal, and my worry is that people might take this message and not treat animals (in part or whole) with the respect they deserve. If I were a human male I don't think I'd feel great if everyone around me went "anti-ball".

If the outcome of this message is that more animals are desexed and kept responsibly, then its great. I think it is cleverly marketed to a group of people who are likely to take the message in the spirit it is intended. 

But I would like to stress that testicles are entitled to just as much respect as any other body part, and I'd like to reassure any worried folk out there that when they are removed by a veterinarian, it is a meticulous, careful surgical procedure with appropriate pain relief.

Watch the full video here. Katherine and her mother Nancy DO care abut animals and their foundation is their contribution to animal welfare.