Spay, neutering and behavior training save pets’ lives

Behavior problems cause millions of dogs and cats to be surrendered to shelters each year, say a number of pet care professionals in Asheville.

“The No. 1 reason I think that animals end up at the shelter is because of behavioral issues,” says Mark Ledyard, veterinarian and owner of Charlotte Street Animal Hospital. “So that’s definitely one thing that’s typically [covered] during your annual visit. If there are any difficult issues, then we can figure out how to go about addressing that so we can have a family member we all enjoy,” he says.

Kim Brophy, a dog behavior consultant and owner of The Dog Door Behavior Center in Asheville, sees firsthand the kind of behavior problems that can propel owners to surrender their dogs. “A lot of times dogs come in at about 6 months old where people did not get the preventative behavioral health care that they needed, and at this point they are having serious problems; they’re kind of at their wit’s ends and are thinking of rehoming the dog,” says Brophy, who has recently completed a book on how to raise a behaviorally healthy dog. (Brophy’s book will be released this fall  by Chronicle Books.) She adds that it’s much easier to prevent behavior problems early on than retrain a dog once the problem behavior fully develops.

Beth Jones, a veterinarian and owner of Asheville Acupuncture and Wellness Clinic, agrees. “[Behavior training] is one of those things people don’t think about until they’re right in the midst of it and having a problem,” she says. If dog owners get started “when [their pets] are little, then you have nice companion and family member and not one you’re afraid is going to bite somebody or you can’t leave alone in the house because they will destroy everything,” she says.

According to a 2015 study by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 7 million dogs and cats are surrendered to animal shelters each year in the U. S.; 2.7 million of…

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