Bob Barker ended every episode of The Price is Right with his famous catch-phrase, “Help control the pet population. Spay or neuter your pet”. He had very good reason to repeat this mantra over and over. The overpopulation of dogs and cats has reached epidemic proportions resulting in the death of millions of animals every year. And while poor, innocent animals are dying in shelters every day, there are thousands being born every day to replace them. We are caught in a horrible catch-22. There are simply not enough good homes for all these animals being produced. The end result is that the vast majority of puppies being born today will be euthanized within a short period of time. The reason for their death sentence? They did not have a home and someone to care for them. It is a shameful waste of life resulting from greed.
It is estimated that U.S. taxpayers spend over $2 billion each year to collect, maintain, house and euthanize unwanted pets (U.S.A Today).
Approximately 6 to 8 million dogs and cats are sent to shelters every year. The vast majority of these shelters do not keep the animals until they are adopted out. As the demand for space is constant, many animals have less than two weeks to find a new home. Most of them don’t. After that time, they are killed to make space for the new batch of animals coming in.
Over 56% of dogs and puppies entering shelters are killed, based on reports from over 1,055 facilities across America. (National Counsel on Pet Population Study)
Four out of Every 5 Pets are Abandoned
Seven dogs and cats are born every day for each person born in the U.S. Of those, only 1 in 5 puppies and kittens stay in their original home for their natural lifetime. The remaining 4 are abandoned to the streets or end up at a shelter (The Humane Society of the United States)
The Circle of Greed
Our society is in an ongoing cycle of allowing millions of animals to be born every year while killing millions at the same time. Greed is a primary factor with hundreds of puppy mills churning out far more dogs than we can possibly look after. As long as people continue to buy puppies from pet stores or from other sources that supply puppy mill puppies, this vicious cycle will continue. Add to that, the people who think they can make extra money by breeding their own pets. More often than not, these backyard breeders are unable to find suitable homes for all the puppies. They end up abandoning them at shelters or worse, dumping them in the streets to fend for themselves.
Both puppy mills and backyard breeders produce puppies that have health problems and temperament issues, resulting in animals that are not suitable as household pets. Since profit is the motivating factor, they will not spend money on things such as genetic testing, health clearances and proper care of the dam. Many people adopting these pets will ultimately give them up because of high vet bills to treat underlying problems and behavioral issues that they are unable to deal with.
Want a Dog? Educate Yourself First
Adding to the problem is people jumping blindly into puppy ownership. They have no clue what’s involved and get blindsided. If you want a dog, you need to research what’s involved with caring for a dog. Also, choosing a puppy based on appearance rather than its breed’s characteristics, temperament and requirements, resulting in a dog that in unsuitable for their particular lifestyle or living situation. It ends up that the dog requires more time and care than the owners have or they don’t have the time to work with the dog to train it properly. Ultimately, the dog is given up and added to the unwanted pet population.
Educating people on the crisis situation will help bring this epidemic to an end. Make sure the dog you are getting is suitable for you. Learn as much as possible about dog ownership and the particular breed of dog you are thinking of adopting. Not buying from a pet store will lower the demand for pups and therefore, help to curb the number of puppies that are produced at puppy mills. Spaying or neutering your pet to protect against unwanted litters will help control the population.
If everyone were to take these small steps to help control pet overpopulation, we could end the horrible practice of destroying millions of innocent animals. Spread the word and help put an end to the ongoing cycle of suffering. Let’s end the birth of animals that will be unwanted and sentenced to die.
What You Can Do
Educate yourself about puppy ownership before you adopt your dog. If you know what to expect, there’s less likelihood you’ll give up your dog out of frustration.
Research the breed you are interested in and familiarize yourself with the dog’s characteristics and requirements. Ensure that the dog will fit into your lifestyle. The needs of a Labrador Retriever are very different from a Jack Russell Terrier.
Commit to training your dog and attending obedience classes. A well-trained dog is a joy to have and untrained one is a nightmare.
Whenever possible, save a life by getting your dog from a shelter, the Humane Society or local dog rescue.
Never, ever buy your dog from a pet store. Doing so only encourages unscrupulous puppy mill owners to continue their horrible practices.
Spay or neuter your pet. Dogs do not have to reproduce in order to feel accomplished or fulfilled like humans do. They will not miss their reproductive organs and on the contrary, you will have a better behaved, healthier pet.
Unless you have the training and knowledge, don’t breed your dog. You need to have worked with the breed and a mentor for many years before attempting proper breeding on your own. Simply putting two dogs together does not produce quality puppies, no matter how beautiful or sweet your dog may be. More than likely you’ll have issues placing all of your pups and they will ultimately end up at a shelter.
Spread the word about the overpopulation problem. Educate friends, family and co-workers who may be thinking about getting a dog (refer them to our website!)