Monday, July 8, 2013

Would you castrate your son?

In 2006 an exhibition titled “Handel and the Castrati” was held at the Handel House Museum in London.  The quotes below are from an article by Sean Coughlan, a journalist for the BBC.

“In 17th and 18th Century Italy, about 4,000 boys were castrated each year, from the age of eight upwards, with the aim of making a fortune as opera singers and soloists with choirs in churches and royal palaces. Composers were enthusiastic about the more complex musical possibilities of these voices - and music lovers turned these exotic figures into the pop idols of their day.

According to historian, David Starkey, ‘It is unnatural in every way, depending on an operation that is an abomination to every man, and yet if it worked, delivered something that, in the opinion of some of the greatest composers of all time, was the supreme human voice - founded on utter and supreme inhumanity…It's horribly like the child star of today, forced into this artificiality, forced through the shocking mill of Hollywood - to deliver that ineluctable, strange, desirable thing of star quality.’"

Isn’t it appalling what parents will do to their children in the pursuit of fame and fortune? No, this isn't 17th or 18th century Italy, and we don’t castrate our kids, although high, pre-pubescent voices are increasingly popular with music fans. Would we do it? I hope not.

And yet…we’re perfectly willing to castrate our dogs for human convenience, and for a cause that no longer exists. Why are we so eager to mutilate our pets, especially in the face of studies that the procedure is bad for their health?

If you have had dogs for many years, and never bred a litter, accidentally or otherwise, how does this butchery and yes, abuse, of your dog “save lives”?

The article concludes with the statement that, “Rather grimly, only a small number of those boys who had been castrated became star performers, with the majority failing to make a career in music - even after this toughest of career choices.”

And how many dogs have suffered from the removal of healthy organs for…nothing.


  1. I have always thought that spay/neuter wasn't the cure-all wonder that so many people have said for many years. It just always felt wrong to me to perform such major surgery on our dogs. I'm so happy to see that, finally, the tide is turning and information is becoming available that it's actually healthier for dogs to remain intact.

  2. She offers no credible evidence dogs are healthier intact in fact there are several conditions which spay/neuter prevents besides unwanted litters, dogs harassing neighbors because their bitch is in heat and a myriad of other problems. Abuse? Oh PLEASE Men and women go through these procedures every day! In my long experience dogs & cats rarely convalesce more than a day or two!

  3. Evidence? You can look right here in the archives for several studies and articles on the subject. The most recent came from UC Davis (I'd say they're credible) about the risks of spay/neuter in Golden Retrievers. Or you can do your own research, same way I did.
    Men and women go through this every day? Like it's a piece of cake? Ask some of the women who've had hysterectomies (including my mother, who nearly died). Ask how many men have been castrated to prevent pregnancy. Vasectomy, yes. Castration, no.
    "In your long experience" doesn't count for squat. Anecdotal experiences mean nothing compared to legitimate studies and surveys. You want experience? I've had two dogs neutered. In one, the sacs ballooned up to softball size and the skin scraped off from friction, leaving him bloody and in pain. In the second, my dog lost too much blood, and his heart stopped twice during the procedure. I tried for two weeks to do everything I possibly could to help him recover, but when the neurologist said his future would life in an x-pen, wearing diapers and unable to see, I did the right thing and let him go. As I stood there after the surgery, looking at my sweet, five year old dog with so many tubes running in and out of him, the vet commented that there was no medical/health related need to neuter a dog. I wish the studies had been available back then. He would still be alive today. But that's MY anecdotal experience, which, again, means as much as yours does. Nothing. Medical science, statistics, numbers, EVIDENCE, that's what counts.
    By the way, dogs harassing neighbors is an owner responsibility problem, not a need to cut off a dog's balls. Human convenience is never a good excuse.

  4. I just found this site from your craigslist post. Very interesting. I will spend some time reading. I have wondered often about the truth to the idea that there are too many animals because that has not been my experience. We've had a very difficult time finding a dog for our farm. The shelters won't let us have an outside dog (even though we provide good shelter) and the costs were ridiculous. We finally settled for a boxer mix from a private listing because my boys were so desperate for a dog. Unfortunately we had to put him down last month because he had kidney failure (unknown reason and devastating). Now we are back to searching and searching. We can't afford to pay hundreds of dollars. Just a mutt farm dog for my boys to love is all we ask!
    Also, we have (3) barn cats with one mama that has kittens twice a year. We NEVER have any trouble finding homes for the (free) kittens. I keep hearing how cruel it is to let her have kittens and that there are so many kittens without homes and yet our experience is that there are not so many available and people are thrilled to get our kittens. We do not have dozens of cats roaming and best of all we have NO rodents!
    I love the alternative perspective here and will keep reading.

  5. galway you do not know who I am, my profession or experience yet you dismiss what I have to say. My Anecdotal experiences mean squat while yours apparently mean everything!

    There is overwhelming evidence,research, citations that spay/neuter procedures are for the most part safe and effective birth control.
    As it happens two friends recently went through full hysterectomies and have bounced back in a couple weeks as did I!

    Sorry for your loss, sounds like malpractice by the veterinarian. There should be no blood loss in a simple castration operation if done correctly.

    PETA Hyperbole, that's all it is.

  6. Clayvessel, volunteering at your local animal shelter might give another perspective on allowing cats to breed.

    The suffering and the huge numbers of cats who are killed at the shelter because owners treat them as disposable commodities and dump them in the streets or at the shelter as soon as the cute kitten becomes a gangly young adult ready to breed.