Wednesday, August 12, 2009

In the words of Bob Barker...

"Help Control the Pet Population: Have your pet Spayed or Neutered!"

So most people who know me know that I'm a huge dog lover, and an enthusiastic supporter of promoting adopting dogs and puppies from shelters/rescues as opposed to purchasing dogs from pet stores or breeders.

Today I was looking on and was once again overwhelmed at the number of dogs that are up for adoption at various rescues/shelters around the country (197,198 dogs right now to be exact - 313,311 animals total). In the midst of wishing I could buy a huge farm and adopt them ALL, I realized how badly people need to be educated about the pet overpopulation problem in this country.

First, I should state that I completely respect the decisions that pet owners make regarding what is best for them and their pet as far as whether to sterilize their pet or not. And I understand that it is possible to prevent your dog from reproducing without fixing them. I also completely respect those who prefer not to adopt a shelter dog, an older dog, or a mixed breed. I've owned three pure bred wonderful dogs in my lifetime (one from a very reputable breeder, one from a horrendous backyard breeder situation and one from a pretty good backyard breeder) and I fully understand wanting to have (and relying on) specific breed traits. Though I am a strong advocate for adopting dogs from rescue organizations and shelters, I do not believe that people should be judged for choosing to purchase pets from pet stores, breeders or back yard breeders; those puppies need good homes too.

Good homes are often hard to find. Especially when you consider that there are more than 2,000 dogs and 3,500 cats born EVERY HOUR in the United States, compared to 415 humans. An estimated 8 million dogs and puppies are euthanized every year simply because they are homeless. The pounds and shelters that house them don't have the space or resources to continue to hold them, so they're each given a time limit (typically 36-48 hours) and if no-one claims or adopts them, they are gassed. Fortunately, there is an increasing number of no-kill shelters, rescues and networks of foster homes that are willing to take in the dogs who are scheduled to be euthanized and adopt them out. I'm happy to say that I'm the proud mama of two "scheduled to be euthanized" pups! They were both rescued from high kill shelters (one from Ohio, one from Mississippi) that could not keep them, along with the rest of their litter and mama. Then the rescues that fostered them, listed them on, which is where I found them and they found their forever homes!

Every year 8 million dogs and puppies are not as fortunate as my two dogs. 8 MILLION. That is a lot of dogs. So what can we do to help reduce this problem? We can be responsible pet owners and have them fixed! If you are not planning on breeding your dog, the responsible thing to do is to fix your pet, period. (That statement is not meant to place blame on those who do not get their dogs fixed, or call them irresposible, just less responsible). BUT, had those people fixed their dogs and prevented unwanted or unexpected pregnancies, the number of dogs looking for homes would be less, therefore the number of dogs euthanized would be less.

Now, I know what you're thinking, its IMPOSSIBLE to save all 8 million dogs a year. But consider this: One dog (who is not spayed and allowed to roam free and mate) can have, lets say 5 litters in a lifetime, of lets say 10 puppies per litter. Thats 50 puppies from that one dog alone. If there is ONE dog like that in each COUNTY in the United States, thats 157,000 puppies. Ok, so what if the owner of this dog is responsible and does the right thing and cares for his pregnant dog and adopts out each of the puppies. Great, but how many already homeless puppies DIDN'T get adopted because these puppies did? The reality is that owners who don't plan on breeding their dog yet still chose not to spay/neuter their dogs are preventing millions of dogs from finding loving homes. Even if your pet has a litter and you find homes for all of them, each of those pets takes a potential home away from other homeless pets waiting in a shelter. All dog lovers should understand and support this cause. You woulnd't kill your dog or want another dog killed. If you knew that there was something you could do to prevent the needless deaths of dogs and puppies, wouldn't you do it?

The best analogy I can come up with is promoting safe sex (among humans that is). Its essentially the same thing. Are you a horrible person if you don't have safe sex? No. Is it more responsible to practice safe sex in order to prevent unplanned pregancies or contracting STDs? Of course. Its better for everyone in society if individuals act more responsibly and contribute to resolving the world's problems.

So, please pass on the word to fix your pets. We all have a responsibility to our furry friends to help reduce the number of them that are disposed of every single day. I'll leave you with some facts to ponder, and a few links if you're interested in reading a bit more about the topic.

- An animal in a shelter is killed every 1.5 seconds.
- Only 1 in 10 dogs/cats born in the U.S. finds a forever home.
- Some 70,000 dogs and puppies are born every day in the U.S.\
- An estimated 15 million animals (dogs, cats, puppies, kittens) are euthanized annually.
- It costs approximately $230 million (tax dollars) a year for animal control agencies to try to cope with the problem of surplus cats and dogs-mainly by killing.
- 30% of dogs in shelters are pure bred.

"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something I can do."
Edward Everett Hale, 1794-1865, American Orator and Statesman