​What do “spay” and “neuter” mean?

Many people often say that they are having their pet “fixed” when it's being spayed or neutered.
To “spay” is to surgically remove both ovaries and uterus on a female cat or dog, preventing them from producing kittens or puppies.
To “neuter” is to surgically remove both testicles on a male cat or dog.
Licensed veterinarians perform the spay or neuter operation while the pet is under anesthesia. Depending on your pet's age, size and health, he or she will stay at your veterinarian's office for a few hours or a few days. Depending upon the procedure, your pet may need stitches removed. Your veterinarian can fully explain spay and neuter procedures to you. If you have a new puppy or kitten, don't wait! Pets can become parents sooner than you think. Early age spay/neuter is safe and effective, so talk with your veterinarian at your pet's first visit.

Why spay or neuter my pet?

Nearly 20,000 sheltered animals die as victims of pet overpopulation every year in our area. There will never be enough homes for them all.
Pet overpopulation is the leading killer of cats and dogs in our country. Each year, more than four million sheltered animals are euthanized to make room for more.
Prevention is the only way to stop the deadly cycle of pet overpopulation.
Research indicates that 80% of pet overpopulation comes from as few as 3% of pet owners who can't afford the cost of spay/neuter surgery.
-AnimalKind (The $20 Fix)
“……the number one reason pets are surrendered to shelters is because of sexually related behaviors - wandering, biting, etc.*
* Journal of the American Veterinarian Medical Association, Vol 233, No.1, July 1, 2008
Many people are surprised to learn that nationwide more than 3 million cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters. You might think that these are animals born in the streets or there is something "wrong" with them. But often they are the offspring of cherished family pets, even purebreds. Maybe someone's dog or cat got out just that one time or maybe the litter was intentional, but efforts to find enough good homes failed.
Still the result is homeless animals that have to be euthanized because there are more dogs and cats entering shelters than there are people willing to provide them with loving care. Even if you do find homes for your pet's puppies or kittens, that means there are fewer homes available to take in other pets from shelters. Spay/neuter is the only permanent, 100-percent effective method of birth control for dogs and cats. (Humane Society of the United States)

What are the advantages?

The single largest advantage is the contribution to ending pet overpopulation and the killing of healthy pets in animal shelters. In addition, it reduces aggressiveness, spraying, wandering and other unwanted behaviors. Health-wise, we see fewer cases of mammary cancers, prostate cancers, etc. Pets live longer! (Spay Neuter Assistance Program of NC (SNAP-NC))
Female pets that have been spayed do not go into heat. You won't have the mess that comes with the female reproductive cycle or the boisterous, noisy, male suitors. Spaying and neutering may also reduce the risk of certain health problems, offering you more years with your beloved dog or cat. (Humane Society of the United States)

What are the benefits to spaying my female pet?

Female dogs experience a "heat" cycle approximately every six months, depending upon the breed. A female dog's heat cycle can last as long as 21 days, during which your dog may leave blood stains in the house and may become anxious, short-tempered and actively seek a mate. A female dog in heat may be more likely to fight with other female dogs, including other females in the same household.
Female cats can come into heat every two weeks during breeding season until they become pregnant. During this time they may engage in behaviors such as frequent yowling and urination in unacceptable places.
Spaying eliminates heat cycles and generally reduces the unwanted behaviors that may lead to owner frustration and, ultimately, a decision to relinquish the pet to a shelter. Most importantly, early spaying of female dogs and cats can help protect them from some serious health problems later in life such as uterine infections and breast cancer. (American Veterinary Medical Association)

What are the benefits of neutering my male pet?

At maturity (on average, 6 to 9 months of age), male dogs and cats are capable of breeding. Both male dogs and cats are likely to begin "marking" their territories by spraying strong-smelling urine on your furniture, curtains and in other places in your house. Also, given the slightest chance, intact males may attempt to escape from home and roam in search of a mate. Dogs and cats seeking a female in heat can become aggressive and may injure themselves, other animals, or people by engaging in fights. Roaming animals are also more likely to be hit by cars.
Neutering male dogs and cats reduces the breeding instinct and can have a calming effect, making them less inclined to roam and more content to stay at home. Neutering your male pet can also lessen its risk of developing prostate disease and testicular cancer. (American Veterinary Medical Association)