News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Liz Ciancone

February 7, 2012

LIZ CIANCONE: Give pets the gift of a better, longer life

It’s amazing how many of us at the Family Sports Center are involved with pets. But I recently became aware of how involved some of us have become.

One friend works on behalf of the Vigo County Animal Coalition, an umbrella organization which includes Harmony Haven, a no-kill sanctuary, the Spay/Neuter League of Terre Haute, the League for Animal Welfare, the City of Terre Haute and Vigo County Animal Control. In addition, the VCAC works with Warm Straw for Chilly Paws and Project Hope. The former seeks to provide a warm shelter for outdoor animals while the latter works to provide an alternative for euthanasia.

All work toward adoption rather than kill. Sadly, some 6 million to 8 million pets enter shelters every year and half are euthanized. And, it’s no wonder that homeless pets have become an expensive problem. One female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 pups in six years while one female cat and her young can produce 420,000 kittens. Finding homes for so many animals just ain’t possible.

I always took it as a given that our dogs would be spayed or neutered — we wanted to be pet owners, not breeders. “Lady,” our collie, was spayed before her first reproductive cycle and so was “Peggy.” “Barf” was neutered, but “Huckleberry” was not. We figured he was a celibate since he showed no interest in much beyond a warm supper and a cuddle up on the couch.

Our four granddogs have been “altered” and all four are loving and companionable pets. One of the side effects of the operation is to make a dog or cat more affectionate, and helps it to live a longer and healthier life. Spaying (female) or neutering (male) tends to make your pet less aggressive and less likely to bite or roam or to “mark” their territory.

The surgery costs, but help is available. Spay/Neuter has a $30 reimbursement program. Project HOPE works with pet owners on public assistance and several local vets to provide the service at a reduced cost. Registration for Project HOPE takes place from noon to 2 p.m. Thursdays (weather permitting) at the Salvation Army Building, Eighth and Poplar streets. Information is always available through the Vigo County Animal Coalition, (812) 232-7729.

It is fitting, as Ken pointed out, that February is spay/neuter month as well as the month we celebrate Valentine’s Day. What better gift can we give a pet who gives us unconditional love than a longer and healthier life?

Dogs aren’t supposed to have chocolates anyway, and what would they do with flowers?


Liz Ciancone is a retired

Tribune-Star reporter. Send e-mail to

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    March 12, 2010