A growing number of traditionalist pet owners are refusing to have their dogs and cats spayed and neutered, saying that surgical sterilization encourages pets to be sexually active before they are emotionally ready.
Pet abstinence movement has legs, culture watchers say
By Deanna Swift
BARTLESVILLE, OK—At just over a year old, Gunner looks—and acts—like a typical black Labrador Retriever. He bounds about the first floor of David and Shelley Frazier's split level home, his large paws hinting at just how big this pup will be when he reaches full size.
But Gunner isn't an ordinary pet—and David and Shelley are not ordinary pet owners. The three are members of a fledgling movement that promotes abstinence-only education for pets. While the vast majority of dogs Gunner's age have had their testicles removed in a process referred to as 'neutering,' 'castration,' 'fixing,' or 'altering,' this pup's sizable sacs remain intact, a testament to the Frazier's staunch opposition to neutering.
Promoting pet promiscuity?
"We felt like having him fixed was another way of saying 'you're good to go, Gunner. Go out and have all the fun you want,'" says Shelley Frazier. And that didn't sit well with their traditional values. Continues Mrs. Frazier: "At some point Gunner will find a mate and then he can start thinking about having puppies, but until then we're emphasizing abstinence as the best course for him."
But when they went looking for a pet-training curriculum that reflected their values, the Frazier's were shocked to discover that local dog trainers simply accepted that young dogs of all breeds and ages would freely engage in sexual activity—and promoted neutering as the best way to lower skyrocketing pregnancy rates among female dogs.
A traditional alternative
So the Frazier's sought out an alternative, and after weeks of contacting other traditionalist pet owners they met their match: People for the Traditional Treatment of Animals (PTTA), founded in 2000 by long-time pet abstinence advocate Patty Dennon. At their very first meeting in nearby Oklahoma City, the Frazier's rubbed elbows with dozens of traditionalist owners of Afghan Hounds, Pointers, Pugs—even a Siamese cat—all committed to raising their animals 'right,' in a culture so morally bankrupt that even pets are adversely affected.
He heated up the screen in the critically acclaimed—and sexually charged—film Y Tu Mamá También, and he’s doing it again in the newly released Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights. Mexican heartthrob Diego Luna is now touting the importance of abstinence—for dogs and cats—in a new PTTA ad targeting the problem of dog and cat overpopulation.
Click thumbnail to view new PTTA ad.
"After a few hours of education about our program, 75% of the people in the audience become convinced that animal abstinence is the way to go," says Dennon. "Our goal is actually to create a culture shift in the way that pets are treated in America. We want to see the concept of abstinence be the norm rather than the exception."
Dennon's traditionalist approach to raising and caring for pets may strike some as unfamiliar. Instead of encouraging pet owners to get their dogs and cats spayed and neutered, Dennon focuses on values, or better yet, the lack of values in today's animal world. The poster child for that degraded culture: Smarty Jones, last year's Kentucky Derby winner and a notorious stud. Mr. Jones, who was booed and hissed at one recent PTTA meeting, has reportedly had 111 different sex partners this year.
When Dennon does speak of spaying and neutering, it is to warn the pets and their families that the sterilization processes won't necessarily prevent pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. "What I tell them is that if your pet is spayed or neutered and chooses to have sex, they're not getting the protection they think they are," says Dennon. As for her own 7-year old tabby, Rachel, and her 3-year old Portuguese Water Dog, Bruno, Dennon puts her money where her mouth is. "If either of them came to me and was going to have sex, I wouldn't tell them they needed to get spayed or neutered first. I don't think it will protect them."
As for the Frazier's, they came out of the PTTA meeting more convinced than ever that abstinence is the best course for Gunner—at least until he enters into a committed relationship. "This is the best situation for him because he shares our values," says Shelley Frazier.
And when they're not trying to keep Gunner away from the Foxhound floozy down the street, the Frazier's have a new mission: figuring out a way for their puppy to accompany them when they are 'raptured,' or summoned up to heaven in the event predicted in Thessalonians and expected to take place any day.
So far though, it seems unlikely that the Frazier's abstinent pooch will be able to travel skyward with them at rapture-time. Most prophecy experts agree that when the believers are raptured, their pets will probably be left behind.