Isane kass (male cat) to his female partner: “Expecting again! How many times is this for us?” And in small print: Steriliseerimine ja kastreerimine 30. jaanuarist 19. märtsini soodus/hinnaga. – Discounted prices for sterilization and castration between Jan. 30 and March 19. This is a yearly campaign organized by Eesti Loomakaitse Selts (Association for the Protection of Animals), with 12 looma/kliinikut (animal clinics) around Eesti taking part to encourage people to be responsible pet owners.
Prior to the spring run-off, or in the case of animals, jooksu/aeg – literally “running time”, as in “Come, run away with me!” or “Run as fast as you can, I’ll still catch you.” When there is a greater than usual urge to run with the goal of finding a mate (paar) with whom to mate (paarituda), resulting in the female (emane) becoming pregnant (tiine, not rase – reserved for humans) and the birth of an ensuing litter (pesa/kond).
In English, spaying refers to the process done to sterilize female animals (emased), taking out the uterus (emakas) and ovaries (muna/sarjad), while neutering is the corresponding process for males (isased); removal of the testicles (munandid). In Estonian, steriliseerimine can also apply to both sexes (sugu), but is more specifically used to denote the procedure for emased, since kastreerimine is male-specific.
For many older people, especially those living in rural areas, sterilizing your pet is seen as a luxury, since it is relatively expensive. For instance, at the Rakvere Loomakliinik, neutering is usually 84€, now 65€, castration reg. 56€, discounted to 40€. The fee to sterilize väiksed koerad (small dogs) is ca 160-180€, currently 160€, but the price increases with the size of the dog and if you receive a pension of a couple of hundred euros a month…
For centuries the “problem” has been solved by sending kittens and puppies mere/kooli (“to the Sea School”) – they were drowned. This is now considered an illegal act for which you will be punished IF proven guilty.
The situation has definitely improved a lot and it has been a very long time since there was an obvious presence of stray animals on the streets of Eesti’s larger urban centers. But the wild Estonian countryside is still a bit untamed in this respect.
A happy link in the chain is, with many people adopting pets from shelters (loomade varju/paik), they receive animals that have already been sterilized.