Why You Should Spay & Neuter Your Pets
By Tina Rotness, Precious Paws Volunteer

The choice to spay or neuter your pet may be one of the most important decisions you make impacting your pet’s long-term health.

Studies have found that on average neutered/ spayed dog’s life between 18 percent to 23 percent longer than those unaltered. Female/male cats that have been altered live between 39 percent to 62 percent longer than those not altered.

Unaltered pets can, in part, be attributed to an increased urge to roam. Such roaming can expose them to fights with other animals, resulting in injuries and infections, trauma from vehicle strikes and other accidental mishaps.

The chances of cats becoming infested with fleas, ticks ear mites, ringworm or internal worms will be greatly reduced by keeping your pet indoors because of lack of contact with infected feces, prey, grass, or soil.

These parasites can cause a variety of moderate to severe symptoms, such as scratching, skin infections, vomiting and diarrhea. In addition, these creepy crawlies can hitch a ride into your home and infect your family. Parasites can be very difficult to eradicate from your pet, from humans and from your home

Indoor pets that are unaltered can lead to spraying to mark their territory, unwanted pregnancies, and a greater chance of developing pyometra (a potentially fatal uterine infection) and uterine, mammary gland and other cancers of the reproductive system.

Neutering male pets eliminates their risk of testicular cancer and eliminates the possibility of developing benign prostatic hyperplasia which can affect the ability to defecate.

Here are some facts about your un-spayed/neutered cats:

• A female cat can have up
to five litters a year. An older
cat can have fewer litters,
but still produce up to 200
• Female cats should be
altered before they are five
months old as they can
become pregnant at four
months old.
• Unneutered male cat
behavior can include several
undesirable habits. Many
unneutered cats spray urine
as a way of marking their
territory, and they might do
this within and outside of

your home.
• An un-neutered cat is also
more likely to be aggressive
toward another un-neutered
male. This is caused by
competition between males
who are trying to protect
their territory, and these
fights can result in serious

Precious Paws Animal Humane Society of Chisholm (Precious Paws) and so many other local shelters have been inundated with cats at various stages of pregnancy. Remember, one pregnant cat at a shelter can increase your total cats after giving birth to seven or eight.

Multiply that by three pregnant cats coming in within a short period of time and that increases your total number of cats to over 25. The shelters are now taxed with the costs of feeding, housing, vetting, and adopting out these cats. If a pregnant cat has complications giving birth the vetting costs are extremely costly and it is impossible to recoup the expenses through adoptions.

The average cost to vaccinate, microchip and spay or neuter one cat ranges anywhere from $115 to $300. Dogs generally run higher. Add to that, most local veterinary hospitals are so busy that you could wait upwards of three to four months before they have an opening. At this time, Precious Paw has more than 20 kittens, plus cats, abandoned pets, and those from hoarding situations that need the services listed above.

Precious Paws is a volunteer based shelter. As part of their adoption process, they make sure that any pet being adopted is fully vaccinated, micro-chipped and has an appointment with a veterinarian hospital for spay/neuter as part of the adoption fee. All pet parents will either bring their pet to the vet for that appointment or return them to Precious Paws for the staff to bring them to their spay/neuter appointment. Some local shelters provide a certificate for the spay/neuter when the pet is old enough as their part to help prevent over population.

The cost of these services outweighs the actual costs of the adoption fees that are being charged. To date, Precious Paws has spent just over $6,200 in spay and neutering, vaccinating, and microchipping over 57 animals that have come in as strays, surrenders, abandoned, born or just left at the front door. Currently they have another 16 animals who are all getting sterilized and vaccinated in October and another 18-plus kittens who will be done in November.

The cost of food, litter and other supplies is a very large expense and thankfully there are wonderful people and organizations that help by donating to these expenses. The end goal is to ensure each pet adoption has the best possible start.

When it is not possible to use our local vets, Precious Paws works with the nonprofit organization MN SNAP, that works to keep pets with the people who love them. Through low and no-cost spay and neuter surgeries and core vaccinations for cats, dogs and rabbits, MN SNAP collaborates with communities across Minnesota to increase access to affordable veterinary care.

MN SNAP’s mission is accomplished via a mobile surgery clinic and a stationary clinic in North Minneapolis. Since 2010, MN SNAP has completed more than 179,271 surgeries in partnership with low-income families and nonprofit rescues and shelters.

Precious Paws hosts the MN SNAP mobile surgical clinic twice yearly to help community members access affordable care. The volunteers at Precious Paws help provide laundry service and a drop off location for the community to bring their pets. Precious Paws has also made several trips to their stationary clinic when they have too many spay/ neuters that need to be done.

Please consider this information and have your pets spay and neutered. As always, please donate or volunteer at a local shelter— it can be so rewarding in so many ways.

CHISHOLM — Dealing with a feral cat that had moved into her doghouse five years ago led Tina Rotness of Chisholm to a deep love of the Precious Paws Humane Society of Chisholm and the pets there. It was winter at the time and Rotness brought it into the shelter. Her involvement with Precious Paws hasn’t ceased since that day.

“I just fell in love with the way the organization was run and that day I asked for a volunteer application and I’ve been there ever since,’’ Rotness, who also works at Minntac, said.

For her dedication and commitment to the animals and Precious Paws, Rotness won a Service Champion award last month from U.S. Steel, which includes $5,000 going to her charity of choice (Precious Paws). The award handed out last month was one of two handed out to Minntac employees and just two of 12 given nationwide at U.S. Steel facilities. Jeremy Dickson of Zim was the other local winner for his efforts with Ronald McDonald House Upper Midwest.

“My husband and I had three cats at the time (five years ago) ourselves.’’ Right now, that is down to one 17-year-old cat. “We’ve always been real big advocates of pets and we’ve always tried to donate to other causes.’’

Before Rotness realized Precious Paws was in Chisholm, she and her husband always tried to donate to other shelters. “Just because we know it’s hard for these animals. They can’t speak for themselves. Somebody’s got to be their voice.’’

“Far too many animals are abandoned with no way to fend for themselves,’’ she wrote for the Service Champion presentation. “Our organization is a no kill shelter that is 100% volunteer run and we operate solely on fundraising, through donations and pet donations. We use the funds to vet these animals, spay and neuter and find them safe homes.’’

Despite dedicating the last five years to the pets, Rotness was surprised to be honored by U.S. Steel, where she is the safety clerk for Minnesota Ore Operations (Minntac and Keetac).

“I was kind of blown away with the service award,’’ she said, especially since two from Minntac won. Compared to all the other properties there are, she considered it quite an honor.

“We had two of us who went above and beyond with our dedication to our causes. It was good that we actually got recognized for it.’’

Rotness and Precious Paws have definite plans for the $5,000 she won for the charity. “What we’re hoping to do is create a new program within our community called Seniors for Seniors Fostering.’’ She has found that senior citizens love to have a pet but they don’t want to pay to adopt it.

The new program will take on the expense of bringing cats or dogs (often older themselves) into the homes of senior citizens so they can have a dog or a cat again.

Precious Paws will pay for food and supplies for the life of the animal, while also covering all the veterinary bills and any apartment pet deposits. “All they have to do is provide the love,’’ Rotness said. Having a pet around is especially helpful for seniors who might be in physical therapy or rehabbing injuries. “They just like to have an animal around them. It keeps them motivated.’’

The biggest reason for Rotness’ surprise in getting the award was that the shelter is very small. Up until November, Precious Paws was 100 percent operated by volunteers only. The previous manager passed away in July, Rotness said, which is when she was asked to come in as an interim manager.

After deciding to do it, she worked full-time at Minntac and would then go to the shelter each day to work several hours trying to keep “everything up and running,’’ Rotness said. However, it came to the point where she couldn’t do both at the same time and Precious Paws hired a manager (Carrie Nelson) at 20 hours per week.

While the shelter is fairly small, about 170-200 animals come through the doors every year.

“We pretty much operate just on donations, on pet adoptions and fundraising,’’ Rotness said. Precious Paws also has a contract with the city of Chisholm ($50 per animal) when animals come in as strays. “Other than that we’re pretty much on our own.’’

Rotness was proud to say no animal leaves the property without being fully vetted, getting vaccinations and being spayed or neutered. Once that is done, the goal is get get each animal the best possible home because “they’ve been through enough when they come in as a stray.’’

After taking in three pregnant cats last year, 21 kittens were born at the end of July and Rotness personally took 14 of them to the Twin Cities in November to get spayed and neutered. The trip was necessary due to COVID-19 and so many veterinarians not doing spaying and neutering, she added.

Rotness recently did the same thing with a group of 20 cats. “We just can’t wait and send them home without making arrangements for them to get spay and neutered.’’

Finding finds for the trips is often a challenge.

“We definitely rely on donations and fundraising and that sort of stuff to keep us afloat. We seem to be doing a pretty good job.’’

Besides taking care of the animals, Rotness and other volunteers spend their own money for needed repairs. “We do pretty much of our own repairs. We’re pretty self sufficient.’’

Fundraising is currently underway for new windows, while an Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency grant has been secured for part of the roof repair.

While Rotness is on the Precious Paws board of directors and acting as the co-manager until the new manager is trained in, she isn’t looking for personal recognition.

She said the pets and volunteers should get the recognition. “I always say ‘We’ instead of ‘I,’ ’’ Rotness said, because “giving back is always better than taking.’’


Rotness: ‘Giving back is always better than taking’

Tina Rotness, Precious Paws Volunteer, of Chisholm is pictured with one of the animals at the Precious Paws Humane Society. Rotness was recently named a U.S. Steel Service Champion for her volunteer efforts at Precious Paws.