Dog Neutering and Spaying – What Happens if Your Dog Has Unwanted Pups?

by Jonni

Several years ago I had the opportunity to see first-hand what happens if you decide not to spay or neuter your dog.

Fortunately, most people are responsible pet owners, so dog neutering and spaying is now the norm, especially when the animals are pets. However, your local dog pound is filled with unwanted dogs, and that pretty much proves that some people don’t get around to taking their pets to the vet for this crucial procedure.

What happens if you don’t get your dog “fixed” before it breeds? If you have an intact male dog, you may never know how many puppies he’s bred, but you will have to worry about him being hit by a car every time he escapes from your back yard in search of romance.

If you have a female dog that hasn’t been spayed, you’ll be locking her up at least twice a year when she comes into heat – but thousands of people have learned how ingenious and persistent a dog can be when nature demands it. Escapes are almost inevitable.

When people end up with a litter of unwanted puppies, they have several options. If the puppies are purebred and registered, and if the breed is popular at the moment, the owners might be able to sell them to people who offer good homes. This is also true even if the pups are mutts, as long as they look like they’ll end up being small dogs.

However, even if the pups are easy to sell or give away, it doesn’t guarantee that they’ll live out their lives with the people who took the cute, cuddly creatures home with them.

Here’s what happened to a litter of pups that I helped to find homes for:

A good friend, Sarah, worked as a nanny for a wealthy family that rescued a pregnant Border collie from an irresponsible son. Within days Sarah also became the “nanny” for five wiggling brown pups, and their energetic (and destructive) momma dog. As soon as the pups were weaned, the momma dog was spayed and given to a family friend.

Border collies are popular at the moment, and the father of the pups was a chocolate Labrador, another popular breed. Giving the puppies away was a fairly easy task. Sarah asked me to put a note on the bulletin board at the large company where I worked, and within a week all the puppies were living with their new families.

But then…

Within six months after that, I learned that three out of the five had ended up in the local animal shelter.

People rarely find out what happens to a puppy after they give it away. I was in an unusual position, because the new owners were aware that I wasn’t personally attached to the puppies, and wouldn’t be devastated if they told me what had happened to them. None of these folks contacted Sarah prior to giving their new puppy to the Humane Society, so she found out only after it was too late to do anything about it.

  • One puppy was given up because a veterinary check found it was suffering from epilepsy, an illness that would become expensive and could be emotionally devastating for the owners. Since both adults in the household worked outside the home, they didn’t feel they could properly care for a puppy with such a serious health problem.
  • Another puppy was taken to the pound because the owners weren’t prepared for a typical Labrador problem – the puppy chewed up everything it could find when it was left alone. Again, both adults worked outside the home for long hours, and the puppy had ten hours every day to remove the stuffing from the couch, take the arms off teddy bears, and gnaw on chair legs. They tried locking the pup in the utility room while they were at work — where it started munching on the vinyl flooring, causing considerable expense. When left outside in the fenced yard it howled, whined, and dug up the flower beds. After several months and hundreds of dollars in damages, the puppy went to the pound.
  • And the third puppy was given up because an older dog in the house didn’t like the competition. As the puppy got older, the owners were seriously concerned that one of the dogs would be injured in a fight. Since they felt one of them had to go, and they knew and loved the older dog more, the pup ended up in a cage at the pound.

I don’t blame any of these folks for not keeping the puppies, but it was unfortunate that the “cute” had grown out of the pups before they were taken to the Humane Society for a second try at adoption, and there’s no way to know if they found good, permanent homes, or if they were destroyed.

And you certainly can’t blame Sarah for choosing the wrong people to give the puppies to in the first place. She couldn’t foresee any of these problems, and did her best to find the best homes for the pups. She loves dogs, and if the mother dog had belonged to her it would have been spayed before ever having a chance to make an unwanted litter.

Unfortunately, most people never know what happens when they give away a dog or puppy, so the consequences of not spaying or neutering their dog remain hidden.

Responsible breeders know how difficult it is to place their animals in homes where they’ll be well cared for, and they know which questions to ask – anyone breeding labs, for instance, would make sure the new owners understood that labrador puppies like to chew. And their pups would probably have health checks and guarantees, so if a serious chronic illness showed up, the puppy could be returned to the breeder.

Backyard breeders, even if they allow their dogs to have one litter after another, are rarely prepared to take back a puppy if the new owners run into a problem they can’t handle, so the pups are taken to the Humane Society or animal shelter when the adoption doesn’t work out.

The moral of the story? You already know that, of course. If you have an unspayed bitch or intact dog, make an appointment with your veterinarian for a spaying or neutering operation. You and your dog will both be happy you did. If it is too expensive, call your local shelter and ask if they have discounted spay and neuter clinics, or if they can give coupons for discounts at a local vet.