Spay/Neuter FAQs

This is a list of some of the most Frequently Asked Questions about spay/neuter. Click on the question you are interested in to see the answer. If you don’t find your question answered here, please call us at 228-863-3354 ext. 3829 or 3830.


Myth or Fact:

Q: What is spay/neuter?

A: Spay/Neuter is a surgical procedure that renders an animal unable to reproduce. Spay/Neuter is integral to ending the euthanasia of thousands of pets here in South Mississippi alone.

Too many unwanted puppies and kittens are born into our community each year and spay/neuter is the most proactive and effective means of eliminating needless euthanasia.

Q: How old does my dog/cat have to be to get “fixed”?

A: The Louise Fenner Claiborne Spay Neuter Clinic will fix kittens and puppies once they are three months old and weigh at least three pounds. Pets who are fixed before reaching sexual maturity reap the rewards of many health benefits and live an average of two years longer than unfixed pets!

Q: What are the health benefits of spay/neuter?

A: On average, fixed pets live two years longer than unfixed pets. This is due to reduced and eliminated risks of certain types of cancer, coupled with some of the behavioral benefits of spay/neuter.

Female dogs and cats fixed before their first “heat” cycle are no longer prone to uterine infections and cancer and are at less risk for breast cancer.

Male dogs and cats fixed before 6 months of age are no longer prone to testicular cancer.

Spayed or neutered pets are less likely to roam, which in turn decreases lifetime emergency veterinary costs due to lessened chances of being hit by a car or going missing.

Spay/Neuter eliminates the health risks associated with a female pet giving birth.

Q: What are the behavioral benefits of spay/neuter?

A: Spaying and neutering your pets will help reduce many nuisance behaviors.

Fixing your male dogs and cats can reduce roaming behaviors, putting your pet at lower risk of being hit by a car or going missing.

Fixed male dogs are less likely to engage in nuisance behaviors such as mounting, urine marking, aggression, and more. Similarly, fixing male cats reduces scent marking (spraying), fighting with other cats, yowling, and more. Additionally, unfixed male cats are at higher risk for contracting fatal diseases such as FeLV and FIV that are transmitted during breeding and fighting.

Fixing your female dog avoids behaviors (and the mess) associated with the canine “heat” cycles and roaming behavior. Fixing your female cat helps avoid the annoying and very loud cat “heat” cycles, which will continue to occur every two weeks until your cat has been mated. Fixing female cats can reduce spraying and, like dogs, can also reduce aggression between your cat and other cats.

Q: What do you do to my pet when he/she gets spayed or neutered?

A: When your pet gets spayed/neutered at the Louise Fenner Claiborne Spay Neuter Clinic, he or she is put under anesthesia and his/her reproductive organs are removed. For females, the ovaries and uterus are removed. For males, the testicles are removed.

Q: I own a male pet; who cares if he is fixed or not?

A: It takes two to tango. As an owner of a male pet you will not face the reality of your pets’–ahem–forays (aka the puppies and kittens your pet has fathered). However, your male pet is ALWAYS ready for some action and he will go to great lengths (often risking his own safety) to get to any eligible ladies.

One unfixed male cat can father 2,500 kittens in a year and will find any female in heat within a four mile radius. Unfixed dogs have been known to jump fences, bust through gates, and dart in and out of traffic in pursuit of a female in heat.

Q: How can you tell if my pet is fixed?

A: Determining whether a dog or cat has been fixed is not always black and white. Oftentimes, it takes the trained touch of a Veterinarian to determine whether a pet has been fixed.

Males are easier to visually determine than females because most males do not have visible testicles or their scrotum appears “empty.” Females can often be felt for scarring where the incision was made on their abdomen, but if they were fixed young, this may be difficult to determine.

Even a trained Veterinarian may not be able to tell if an animal is fixed. To avoid this happening to the animals fixed in the Louise Fenner Claiborne Spay Neuter Clinic, HSSM places a small green tattoo on the abdomen of each pet fixed at our clinic. This tattoo serves as a permanent visual indicator that the animal has been fixed, in an effort to avoid unnecessary surgery for an already-fixed pet.

Q: Is spaying or neutering my pet safe?

A: The Louise Fenner Claiborne Spay Neuter Clinic has two full-time Veterinarians who perform 10,000 spay/neuter surgeries each year. Our complication rate is less than 0.001% annually.

We are able to achieve this very low complication because our Veterinarians perform surgery very quickly and safely. The faster an animal is awake from anesthesia, the less likely that there will be complications.

Having said that, spay/neuter is a surgical procedure and carries with it the risks that go along with any surgery or anesthesia.

Q: What is the difference between “spay” and “neuter”?

A: Spay is for girls. Neuter is for boys.

“Spay” refers to fixing female animals by removing their ovaries and uterus.
“Neuter” refers to fixing male animals by removing their testicles.

Q: Does HSSM offer vaccinations or yearly shots?

A: The Humane Society of South Mississippi ONLY offers vaccinations at the time of spay/neuter.

Vaccinations available include Rabies, DA2PP and FVRCP (annual care vaccinations) but are only given during spay/neuter surgery. Click here for current pricing.

Rabies vaccinations may become available periodically at HSSM’s Microchip Clinics, usually held in the Spring and Fall. See Calendar of Events here.

Q: Can my pet get a “check up” or see one of HSSM’s Veterinarians for an injury or illness?

A: If your pet is sick or injured, please call your normal Veterinarian ASAP.

HSSM does not provide any Veterinary services other than the limited vaccinations offered at time of spay/neuter. Spaying and neutering 10,000 pets each year takes a lot of time. In order for your pet to receive the attention he/she deserves, we refer all other veterinary services to local veterinarians so that your pet will receive the best care.

Q: Can I have my pet microchipped while he/she is getting fixed?

A: YES! Please speak with the Clinic Staff member when booking your pet’s spay/neuter appointment if you are interested in having your pet microchipped at the time of spay/neuter.

Microchipping is also offered on a daily basis at HSSM to any pet No Appointment Necessary. Simply bring your pet on a leash or in a carrier to HSSM’s Lost/Found Lobby anytime during business hours. Low-cost engravable ID tags are also available through HSSM’s Bow Wow Meow Boutique!

Q: How do I get my pet fixed?

A: To get your pet fixed at the Louise Fenner Claiborne Spay Neuter Clinic, please call 228-863-3354 ext. 129 or 130 to set up an appointment. You will receive further instructions once your appointment is booked or you can take a peek at our Spay/Neuter Procedures.

Q: Can my own vet spay or neuter my pet?

A: YES! Most veterinarians also offer spay/neuter services. You will have to speak with your veterinarian for details on his/her criteria, pricing, and procedures for spay/neuter.

HSSM’s Louise Fenner Claiborne Spay Neuter Clinic is not the only place to get your pet fixed in our area, however, we are the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s only low-cost, high-volume, high quality spay/neuter clinic.

Q: How does spay/neuter help homeless pets?

A: Due to the vast number of unwanted puppies and kittens born in our country, 3-4 million pets die in animals shelters each year.

Spaying/Neutering your pet will prevent MORE unwanted pregnancies and more puppies and kittens that are unable to find homes.

The epidemic is so serious that it cannot be solved by adoption alone; it must be solved by responsible pet ownership starting with pet owners spaying and neutering their pets.

Q: How much does spay/neuter cost?

A: HSSM’s Louise Fenner Claiborne Clinic strives to make spay/neuter affordable to all Mississippi Gulf Coast pet owners. Our spay/neuter prices depend on where you live, what type of pet you are getting fixed, and grant funding available at this moment. Click here for spay/neuter pricing and don’t forget to check out our current spay/neuter specials!

Q: I have an indoor cat; should I get him/her fixed?

A: YES! Even though you strive to keep your cat inside, there is always the chance that he/she could get out. This is especially true for unfixed cats because they are biologically driven to find eligible mates.

Also, you’ll notice that life is much more peaceful when you don’t have to worry about your female cat going into heat and “yowling” every two weeks and your male cat is no longer urine marking everything in sight!

Q: What is this “Kitten Season” HSSM is always talking about?

A: Kitten Season is something experienced by animal shelters across the United States every spring and summer. The shelters are flooded with kittens all at one time who are usually all approximately the same age!

How does this happen? Because cats breed based on the weather. Longer daylight hours and warmer weather = triggers to the biology of a cat that it is the Season of LOVE.

Female cats go into heat and cycle through it every two weeks until they become pregnant so basically, your female cat is programmed to get pregnant and there is NOTHING you can do about it other than spay/neuter.

In addition to your female cat’s constant heat cycles, your male cat can detect every in-heat female within a 4-mile-radius… and he will go to great lengths to find each and every one of them. Keeping this in mind, it is not all that surprising that one unfixed male cat can produce 2,500 kittens in just one year.

So…coupled with the biological drive of the feline species, South Mississippi’s LONG summer days and ongoing warm weather (come on, let’s be honest, we have about two whole days of “cold” weather each year), our community is the perfect climate for TONS of kittens to be born each spring and summer.

Don’t believe in the spike? Check out this chart, detailing our kitten intake by time of year.
This goes back to the utmost importance of getting your pets fixed while still young preferably before sexual maturity so that they never add to the already huge number of unwanted kittens entering HSSM each year.

Q: What do I do about the cats that are EVERYWHERE in my neighborhood or around my business, but they’re not mine?

A: HSSM’s Louise Fenner Claiborne Spay Neuter Clinic operates a full-service Trap-Neuter-Return program which is FREE to all Harrison County residents.

We can come out to your location, trap any and all of your cats, fix them, Rabies vaccinate them, and return them to your neighborhood or business…think you don’t want them back? Click here for the full T-N-R story!

Q: What is Trap-Neuter-Return (T-N-R) and how does it work?

A: Trap-Neuter-Return (T-N-R) is the method behind HSSM’s “Community Cats” program, which offers assistance for neighborhoods, businesses, and individuals who are facing overpopulation of outdoor/feral/wild/neighborhood cats. Usually these cats are fed by one or more members of the nearby community, but the people feeding them rarely consider themselves the cats’ owner.

Lack of ownership often means that these cats never receive veterinary care, including basic vaccinations, and these cats are more-often-than-not left to reproduce uncontrollably.

Fixing the cats in your area through T-N-R allows you to control the cat population, which will no longer be multiplying. In the long term, the number of cats in your area will dwindle naturally.

However, if you remove all of the cats from your neighborhood more unfixed cats will take their place because, for whatever reason, your neighborhood is attractive to cats. Maybe it is some good shelter such as a shed, shady woods, or a space under your house. It can also be a food source. So if you take the cats away, more cats will find your area and call it home. You’ve basically created a vacuum in your local “ecosystem” and more cats will file in to fill it.

This is why spaying and neutering your current cat population really is the best and most humane way to control the cat population in your area.

Want more details on HSSM’s T-N-R program? Click here.

Or, read more on T-N-R from one of the nation’s leading organizations, Alley Cat Allies!

Q: Does a Veterinarian perform the spay/neuter surgery?

A: YES! HSSM has two full-time licensed Veterinarians who perform the spay/neuter procedures at the Louise Fenner Claiborne Spay Neuter Clinic.


Q: What Species of Animals Does HSSM Spay/Neuter?

A: HSSM’s Louise Fenner Claiborne Spay Neuter Clinic spay/neuters ONLY dogs and cats for community members.

Although it is important to spay/neuter other species, such as rabbits, HSSM’s focus is to eliminate the overpopulation of those species whose populations are rampant on the Mississippi Gulf Coast: dogs and cats.


Myth or Fact:

Q: I have a purebred pet. Shouldn’t I breed him/her?

A: MYTH. Spay/Neuter offers just as many benefits to purebred pets as it does to mixed breeds. Due to the overpopulation crisis we are facing in our community, fixing your purebred pet is the responsible option for your pet and the community as a whole.
Additionally, one in every four pets that end up in shelters are purebred. While responsible breeders are NOT the root cause of shelter overcrowding, we encourage breeding to be left to professionals who have a solid knowledge of their breed and the different health concerns specific to that breed.

Just because your pet has a pedigree, it does not mean you have a responsibility to breed him/her. Organizations like the American Kennel Club advocate the betterment of each particular breed and therefore endorse only the breeding of the very best representatives of a breed.

Please consider having your purebred pet fixed. There are many purebred pets in shelters across the United States and right here at HSSM. We can only end the needless euthanasia of pets in our country through responsible pet ownership especially spay/neuter.

Q: Can’t I make money by breeding my dog?

A: MYTH. While selling puppies for hundreds of dollars each may look very profitable on the surface, do not be deceived. Breeding dogs is NOT a money maker.

Delivering and raising puppies is very expensive. Oftentimes, the more desirable breeds (large-headed dogs like Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Chihuahuas, etc.) end up needing C-Sections in order to safely deliver their pups. This procedure alone can cost several hundred dollars. Most veterinarians will also suggest pre-natal food and vitamins for expectant mothers, adding more cost.

Then, once the puppies are born, you will be footing the bill for more food and sometimes you will find yourself faced with a mother dog who has no interest in caring for her pups (meaning A LOT of every-two-hour bottle feedings for you). Each puppy will need several trips to the Veterinarian, including vaccinations and dewormer to ensure that they are healthy.

Of course, you could always skip all of these steps, but a responsible prospective pet parent will be looking for all of this care in their new puppy… and those are the only people who will be willing to pay several hundred dollars for your puppies.

Breeding dogs is NOT a money maker. Please have your pets spayed/neutered so that we can end the needless euthanasia of pets in our community.

Q: Spaying/Neutering my pet is going to make him/her fat and lazy, right?

A: MYTH. While spay/neuter can change your pet’s metabolism, the procedure is not the cause of your pet becoming overweight. For some pets, spay/neuter does make them more prone to gain weight, as fixed males are no longer endlessly seeking out available mates and females are no longer facing the physical stressors of the heat cycle.

If your pet has become overweight after spay/neuter surgery, it is most likely because an adjustment in the amount you are feeding him/her is needed. A pet’s body is much less demanding on him/her once the urge and ability to reproduce has been removed.

Click here to see more about the health and behavioral benefits of spay/neuter.

Q: Shouldn’t I let my cat or dog have JUST ONE litter?

A: Myth. Letting your pet have JUST ONE litter has no positive effects for your pet. In fact, pets fixed before they ever reach sexual maturity (4-6 months) actually see more health benefits from spay/neuter surgery. Spayed/neutered pets live an average of two years longer than unfixed pets.

Also, your JUST ONE litter is adding to the already astronomically high number of unwanted puppies and kittens in our community. There are only a finite number of homes that are willing to take in a pet at any given time. If your pet has a litter of six and you find all six of them homes, those are six homes that could have gone to pets needing homes in our shelters.

Q: My Children need to experience the miracle of life. Isn’t letting my pet have a litter a great way to show them that?

A: Myth. Allowing your pet to have a litter just to demonstrate the miracle of life to your children is teaching them another lesson: puppies and kittens are disposable. You plan on getting rid of those puppies and kittens once the miracle of life is over, right?

If you’d like to give your children an opportunity to experience the miracle of life, consider fostering a pet that has already ended up in the shelter with a litter. There are always Mommas with litters in need of somewhere to stay! The best thing is that with this lesson for your children, they also learn to give back to their community and the importance of spay/neuter to end the euthanasia of pets in our society. Click here for more information on fostering.

Q: If I fix my dog, he/she won’t hunt anymore, right?

A: MYTH. The prey drive that makes a good hunting dog hunt relentlessly is in no way tied to the sex drive of that animal.

Fixed dogs hunt just as soundly as unfixed dogs and there is an added benefit: reduced roaming. A fixed dog is much less likely to wander off once the hunt is done or during the course of a hunt. Oftentimes, hunting dogs wander not because they are following the track of another kill, but because they are distracted by their urges to find eligible mates.

Spaying and Neutering your hunting dogs is a responsible act that has proven to extend their lives and ability to hunt effectively by an average of two years!

Q: Spaying/Neutering my pet will change my pet’s personality, won’t it?

A: MYTH. Spay/Neuter does NOT alter the personality of a pet. While spay/neuter can help reduce some nuisance behaviors and roaming in your pets, the personality traits you love most about your pet will not change.

Oftentimes, worried owners can mistake the recovery period (which can leave your pet groggy and tired-feeling for a few days) as “depression” over being fixed. This is purely a human-driven emotion and thought. In no time, your pet will be back to normal and possibly better behaved because of less of those annoying behaviors.

Q: If I fix my dog, he/she will no longer be an effective guard dog.

A: MYTH. Fixing your pets (yes, even your BIG MALE DOGS) does not affect their ability or drive to bark when someone is at the door, approaching your house, or any other guarding behaviors you desire.

The drive to protect you is not tied to sexual drive, especially if you have trained your dog to act accordingly. Fixed dogs are just as adept guard dogs as unfixed dogs, and what’s better: fixed dogs will be less likely to wander off on the job!

Q: My male dog looks tougher when he’s unfixed.

A: MYTH. If you own a dog that you want to appear “tough”, anyone who is going to be intimidated will not be looking at his man parts. A person is intimidated by a “tough” dog not because he is well-endowed, but because he is big, barking, or tough-looking.

Please also note that just because your dog is fixed, it does not make you less of a man–quite the opposite, we think the ladies will find it very honorable that you’ve had your big tough dog neutered!



Our Mission

The mission of the Humane Society of South Mississippi is to save and enhance the lives of pets through cooperative and innovative approaches to adoption, spay/neuter, sheltering and community engagement.

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