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Humane Education seeks to prevent abuse of animals and humans by teaching empathy, kindess, and integrity in relationships. In programs for schools, scouting organizations, after-school programs, religious groups, residential treatment programs, and other community groups, our staff explores the ways humans can live with compassion and respect for all living creatures. We provide positive examples and guidance designed to benefit our communities by improving the treatment of our fellow humans and the animals who offer us their companionship.

Education and Outreach Manager: Lori Swanson, 413-548-9898 x 4

Our Programs:

Animal Tales  Animal Tales gives children an opportunity to meet some of our friendly shelter animals and listen to animal stories.

PAWS for Safety  PAWS for Safety is a bite-prevention program intended to keep children safe and positively enhance the bond between children and animals.

Animals and Ethics  Animals and Ethics provides students with facts and accurate information regarding the ethical treatment of animals.

Kids, Critters, and Character  Kids, Critters, and Character focuses on our lovable pets and our planet's amazing array of animals to bring messages of compassion to life.

Animals in Society  Animals in Society helps increase awareness of some of the important issues facing animals today. The program explores ways in which teens can make a difference in the lives of animals in their communities and nationwide.

Friends for Life Program  Friends for Life Program teaches children how to care responsibly for their pets.

Animal-Assisted Therapy  Animal-Assisted Therapy gives individuals with behavioral, emotional, physical, and learning challenges the opportunity to develop bonds and positive connections with people AND animals. Animal-Assisted Therapy can increase self-esteem, compassion, and feelings of empathy toward all living creatures.

Spaying and Neutering Your Pet

The following is reprinted by permission of the Humane Society of the United States.
Copyright 1998 The Humane Society of the United States. All rights reserved.
Facts About Spaying and Neutering

What do "spay" and "neuter" really mean?
Female dogs and cats are spayed by removing their reproductive organs, and male dogs and cats are neutered by removing their testicles. In both cases the operation is performed 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 after a few days. Your veterinarian can fully explain spay and neuter procedures to you and discuss with you the best age at which to sterilize your pet.

Spaying and Neutering: It's Good for Your Pet

  • Spaying and neutering helps dogs and cats live longer, healthier lives.
  • Spaying and neutering can eliminate or reduce the incidence of a number of health problems that can be very difficult or expensive to treat.
  • Spaying eliminates the possibility of uterine or ovarian cancer and greatly reduces the incidence of breast cancer, particularly when your pet is spayed before her first estrous cycle.
  • Neutering eliminates testicular cancer and decreases the incidence of prostate disease.
Spaying and Neutering: It's Good for You
  • Spaying and neutering makes pets better, more affectionate companions.
  • Neutering cats makes them less likely to spray and mark territory.
  • Spaying a dog or cat eliminates her heat cycle. Estrus lasts an average of six to twelve days, often twice a year, in dogs and an average of six to seven days, three or more times a year, in cats.
  • Females in heat can cry incessantly, show nervous behavior, and attract unwanted male animals.
  • Spaying and neutering makes pets less likely to bite.
  • Unsterilized animals often exhibit more behavior and temperament problems than do those who have been spayed or neutered.
  • Neutering makes pets less likely to roam the neighborhood, run away, or get into fights.
Spaying and Neutering: It's Good for the Community
Communities spend millions of dollars to control unwanted animals. Irresponsible breeding contributes to the problem of dog bites and attacks. Animal shelters are overburdened with surplus animals. Stray pets and homeless animals get into trash containers, defecate in public areas or on private lawns, and frighten or anger people who have no understanding of their misery or needs. Some stray animals also scare away or kill birds and wildlife.

Spay or neuter surgery is a one-time cost that is relatively small when compared to the benefits. It's a small price to pay for the health of your pet and the prevention of more unwanted animals.

Myths and Facts About Spaying and Neutering

MYTH: "My pet will get fat and lazy."
FACT: The truth is that most pets get fat and lazy because their owners feed them too much and don't give them enough exercise.

MYTH: "It's better to have one litter first."
FACT: Medical evidence indicates just the opposite. In fact, the evidence shows that females spayed before their first heat are typically healthier. Many veterinarians now sterilize dogs and cats as young as eight weeks of age. Check with your veterinarian about the appropriate time for these procedures.

MYTH: "But my pet is a purebred."
FACT: So is at least one out of every four pets brought to animal shelters around the country. There are just too many dogs and cats—mixed breed and purebred.

MYTH: "I want my dog to be protective."
FACT: Spaying or neutering does not affect a dog's natural instinct to protect home and family. A dog's personality is formed more by genetics and environment than by sex hormones.

MYTH: "I don't want my male dog or cat to feel like less of a male."
FACT: Pets don't have any concept of sexual identity or ego. Neutering will not change a pet's basic personality. He doesn't suffer any kind of emotional reaction or identity crisis when neutered.

MYTH: "It's too expensive to have my pet spayed or neutered."
FACT: The Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society can help you if you need financial assistance to spay or neuter your pet. Several programs are available, please call or come by the shelter for information. In addition, the cost of spaying or neutering depends on the sex, size, and age of the pet, your veterinarian's fees, and a number of other variables. But whatever the actual price, spay or neuter surgery is a one-time cost—a relatively small cost when compared to all the benefits. It's a bargain compared to the cost of having a litter and ensuring the health of the mother and litter; two months of pregnancy and another two months until the litter is weaned can add up to significant veterinary bills and food costs if complications develop. Most importantly, it's a very small price to pay for the health of your pet and the prevention of the births of more unwanted pets.

MYTH: "I'll find good homes for all the puppies and kittens."
FACT: You may find homes for all of your pet's litter. But each home you find means one less home for the dogs and cats in shelters who need good homes. Also, in less than one year's time, each of your pet's offspring may have his or her own litter, adding even more animals to the population. The problem of pet overpopulation is created and perpetuated one litter at a time.

Questions about the animals or the shelter?
Please direct all inquiries to
or call (413) 548-9898

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