NEW ORLEANS - Some people who deal with the high number of stray dogs in this area, are hoping a quick and cheap sterilization procedure, will get more people to neuter their dogs.
It's even being offered free this weekend, but according to veterinarians, there are pros and cons.
Zina, a thin German Shepherd, is lucky she just got a home. But thousands of others never do.
"The stray population, it just seems overwhelming here in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish. It's a nonstop rotating door of animals coming in," explained Dr. Jeff Schumacher, a veterinarian at the East Bank Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter.
So the Sula Foundation, dedicated to responsible pit bull ownership and health, is bringing Zeutering to the area. Dr. Schumacher says this quick, easy way of just injecting the drug into each testicle under sedation, rather than surgery under general anesthesia to remove them, will help with pet overpopulation. The dogs will be sterile, but will still look like male dogs and they'll keep making about half of their testosterone hormone, which can protect against some cancers.
"Testosterone is an important hormone for developing into a healthy, adult, for the muscles, for all the organ systems, for the bones and the joints. I would say it's training. Performing a Zeuter, it's safe. It's effective and it's permanent," said Dr. Schumacher. He agrees neutering can help dogs' health, but also says the Society for Theriogenology has a list of 13 benefits of them having hormones.
But this FDA-approved drug went off of the market for seven years after some severe complications with scrotal ulcers, so now Dr. Schumacher says vets must have four to six hours of training because he says it was not the drug, but incorrect injecting technique that caused those problems. Injections must be done slowly, with a smaller needle and only after measuring the size of each testicle.
But there are no long term studies that follow the health of a dog through his life after Zeutering, so Dr. Clare Guichard, who says there are known health benefits to neutering, wants to wait.
"That's what they're thinking, is that we train them properly, we won't get all these side effects. So I'd like to see the research for that," Said Dr. Guichard a veterinarian in private practice at Lakeview Veterinary Hospital.
Dr. Guichard also says she alters dogs not only for pet overpopulation, but also for lowering their risk of getting cancer of the reproductive organs, later in life. She wants to see more data on the long-term benefits of hormone production.
"I think that is very controversial and right now there are papers out there that say having testosterone is great and will prevent your dog from having cancer, but there's also a lot of evidence that testosterone is what's causing cancer," Dr. Guichard explained.
Currently the drug is FDA-approved for male dogs three to 10 months old but can be used off label in older dogs.
Veterinarians will be trained in Zeutering Sunday at Jefferson Feed on Jefferson Highway. To see if your male dog qualifies for a free procedure call 504-613-7370.
The Sula Foundation:
Sula Foundation statement:
On Sunday March 9, The Sula Foundation is bringing Zeuterin to New Orleans. Zeuterin is a non-surgical, permanent sterilization technique for male dogs that is now approved by the FDA for use in the US. We're offering free training and certification to New Orleans vets so that they can learn more about how this option works and, if they choose, begin to offer it as an alternative to surgery. Vets from Magazine Street Animal Clinic, Pet Care Center on Esplanade and Vet-a-GoGo are confirmed, but there is still time for a few more to join us on Sunday. Jefferson Feed has generously offered space for the training, and the Jefferson SPCA and animal shelters are arranging for some of their dogs to be treated as part of the certification process. Thank you to everyone who is helping us more the spay/neuter effort forward in the New Orleans area. If you are interested in participating, please contact us via email or at 504-613-7370.