"Pets don't have any concept of sexual identity or ego. Neutering a male dog or cat will not change his basic personality," says Martha Armstrong, a vice president of the Humane Society. "He doesn't suffer any kind of emotional reaction or identity crisis when neutered."
Those are words of comfort to anyone who is concerned about Buddy the presidential pup, who probably will be neutered any day now. President Clinton is said to be reluctant to consent to the surgery and is reserving the right to change his mind.
But Mr. Clinton most likely will follow the advice of Buddy's veterinarian and heed an appeal from actress Doris Day.
Day, president of the Doris Day Animal League, sent Mr. Clinton a letter in December, expressing concern that Buddy would suffer health problems if he were left intact. Among them was a risk of testicular cancer and prostate infections that could lead to problems with urination.
In January, Clinton spokesman Mike McCurry said there were no plans to neuter Buddy, who had moved into the White House in mid-December.
However, Clinton physician Connie Mariano has now told Day in a letter that the Clintons had decided to neuter the dog on the advice of their veterinarian.
Mr. Clinton set no immediate date for putting Buddy under the knife, leaving some to wonder whether the 7-month-old chocolate Labrador retriever has been told of his fate.
Indeed, Buddy seemed blissfully unaware of any pending surgery as he played fetch with Mr. Clinton on the South Lawn with a green tennis ball Tuesday.
"Neutering or spaying dogs and cats is one of the most important acts a responsible pet owner can take," says Armstrong. "It promotes better physical and behavioral health for dogs and cats, and it helps to address the pet overpopulation crisis."
The White House says Mr. Clinton's decision was driven by concerns for Buddy's health - and denied that it was motivated by the more than a few salty confrontations the dog has had with Socks the family cat who, for the record, is neutered too.
©1998 CBS Worldwide Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report
Copyright 1998 CBS. All rights reserved.