In every community throughout the country, there are homeless animals. This is especially true in the South. We have thousands of homeless animals entering our shelters right here in Louisiana every year.

One of the main reasons this is happening is because people do not spay or neuter their pets. Pet overpopulation is not solely the result of homeless animals breeding. It is also a big problem because of the unwanted puppies and kittens of family pets and purebreds. More than 2.7 million healthy, adoptable cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters annually. Spaying or neutering is the only permanent, 100 percent effective method of birth control for dogs and cats.

Not only does spaying or neutering help control the pet population, but is also has positive health and behavioral benefits for pets.

Female pets will live a longer, healthier life.

Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast cancer, which is fatal in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Spaying your pet before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases.

While cycles can vary, female cats usually go into heat four to five days every three weeks during breeding season. To attract mates, they will make “cat calls” and urinate more frequently; this can include places in your home outside of the litter box.

For male pets, neutering provides major health and behavioral benefits.

Besides preventing unwanted litters, neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer, if done before he turns 6 months old.

Unneutered dogs are much more assertive and prone to marking (lifting his leg and urinating). Although it is most often associated with male dogs, females may do it, too. Spaying or neutering your dog should reduce marking and may stop it altogether.

For cats, the urge to spray is extremely strong in an intact cat, and the easiest solution is to get him neutered by 4 months of age before there is even a problem. Neutering solves 90 percent of all marking issues, even in cats that have been doing it for a while. It can also minimize howling, the urge to roam and aggression toward other males.

An intact male will do just about anything to find a mate. That includes digging under or climbing over the fence. Roaming brings on new risks such as injury in traffic or by humans and fights with other animals.

Other behavioral problems that can be eliminated by spaying or neutering include aggression, excessive barking, mounting and other dominance-related behaviors. Studies show that most dog bites involve dogs that are unaltered.

In Orleans Parish, Intact Permit notices started going out Dec. 1. Residents who receive notices from the Louisiana SPCA regarding the Intact Permit will have 30 days to comply with the law. Exemptions are available for those pets that cannot be spayed or neutered for medical reasons.

In 2010, the city of New Orleans approved a law that requires all pets more than 6 months of age to be spayed or neutered or have an Intact Permit. If your pet is spayed or neutered, then you are automatically in compliance with the law. If your pet is intact, not spayed or neutered, then you must apply for an Intact Permit through the Louisiana SPCA.

To obtain an Intact Permit, you must complete one application per animal in your household. The permit requires proof of current vaccinations from a licensed veterinarian, microchip, photo of your pet, a one-time application fee of $75 and an annual permit fee of $20. Each pet’s Intact Permit must be renewed annually.

Visit la-spca.org/intact to learn more about the Intact Permit and other Orleans Parish animal ordinances or call Louisiana SPCA humane law enforcement at (504) 368-5191, ext. 100.

Events

  • FREE MICROCHIPS: Pets that are spayed or neutered through Dec. 15 at the Louisiana SPCA Community Clinic can receive a free microchip at the time of surgery. The clinic is at 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd., New Orleans. To make an appointment, call (504) 363-1333. This promotion is available through grant funding and is available only to residents of Orleans Parish. For information, visit la-spca.org/communityclinic.

HOLIDAY PARTY: A Toasts and Tails and Jingle Bells party will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 4, at NO Fleas Market, 4228 Magazine St., New Orleans. There will be holiday libations, light hors d’oeuvres, treats for the pooches, a 50-50 raffle and holiday pet photos with Santa. Friendly, leashed pets are welcome. For information, visit nofleasmarketnola.com or la-spca.org or call (504) 324-4727.

AMAZING ACRO-CATS: Samantha Martin and her Amazing Acro-Cats, based in Chicago, will present 17 performances of their Meowy Christmas show Dec. 5-21 at the Allways Theater, 1030 Marigny St., New Orleans. Performance times are 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., varying by date. Tickets are $19 for adults and $16 for children 12 and under, with part of the proceeds going to the Jefferson SPCA. For information or to buy tickets, visit circuscats.com.

PET ADOPTION EVENT: The Jefferson SPCA will hold an adoption event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, at Petco, 3520 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie.

PET ADOPTION EVENT: Louisiana SPCA will hold a Mutts on Magazine adoption event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, at various locations along Magazine Street in New Orleans. Louisiana SPCA adoption counselors and volunteers will be on hand to help families select the right pet. For information, call (504) 368-5191 or visit la-spca.org.

HOLIDAY PHOTOGRAPHY: Louisiana SPCA will be the beneficiary of a Mistletoe, Mutts and Meows holiday photography event 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7, at Petcetera, 3205 Magazine St. $5 from each photo order will benefit the Louisiana SPCA. For information, call (504) 269-8711 or visit petceteranola.com or la-spca.org.

LOST OR FOUND PETS: In Orleans Parish, you can send a photo, description of your pet, date lost or found and your contact information to lostandfound@la-spca.org. In Jefferson Parish, send to molsen@jeffparish.net and bbourgeois@jeffparish.net, and in St. Bernard Parish, send to cluna@sbpg.net.

Traci D. Howerton is social media editor for Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. Contact ARNO at animalrescuecolumn@gmail.com, animalrescueneworleans.org or call its recorded information line at (504) 571-1900.