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Animal Shelters Are Overflowing But We Can Help

The pros of spaying and neutering companion animals far outweigh the cons.

Animal Shelters Are Overflowing But We Can Help

There are over 78 million dogs and 85 million cats owned in the United States. Almost half of all households have at least one dog and 37% have a cat living at home.

Here's some interesting info about how pet owners find pets to add to their families: 25% of dogs and 31% of cats are adopted at an animal shelter and/or Humane Society. 34% of dogs in American homes and a mere 3% of cats are bought by breeders. Only 6% of dogs and 27% of cats considered stray (meaning they have no owners) end up living in a home.

Why do people give up their pets so easily? Often dropping them off at local animal shelters? Almost half of both dogs and cats that end up in animal shelters are charged with problematic and aggressive behaviors, growing much bigger than the owner assumed they should be and health issues that arose and the owners could not afford to pay for the medical bills.

Each year over 7 million dogs and 3 million cats end up in animal shelters across the US. Over 1.5 million of these animals will be euthanized due to lack of space and funding, being passed over for adoption and other unfortunate reasons. At times, some shelters will be forced to euthanize over 10,000 animals a day for simply being born.

There is a long-running joke about any commercial where Sarah McLachlan sings, "Arms of an Angel" that causes most people, even couch potatoes, to jump up and find the TV remote to immediately change the channel to avoid seeing images of sad animals in desperate need of help. Even if the desperate help is "just pennies a day", most of us will risk tripping over a sleeping dog or knocking over a bag of chips to avoid the discomfort these images stir up inside of us.

The term, "cognitive dissonance" is used to explain why some have a hard time when those feelings of discomfort are triggered by a situation in which one of our beliefs clashes with new evidence we are exposed to. When confronted with facts that contradict personal beliefs, ideas, and values, people will find a way to resolve the contradiction in order to reduce their discomfort. Don't beat yourself up if you are a champion at grabbing the remote and switching channels when commercials about sad and sick puppies needing your help come on. Most of us do the same, but not everyone admits it.

In 2012, Montgomery County, NC made national news when the animal shelter located in Troy, NC came under scrutiny after the public learned that 100% of cats and 98% of dogs that entered this shelter were now in one of the highest kill rate shelters in the nation. This shelter was the end of the line for them. Over 1,200 animals were placed on death row and euthanized.

When asked, shelter officials sited funding problems. Less than 1% of the county budget was allocated to the animal shelter, which was roughly $95,000 a year. The "different mentality" that locals have about animals was also attributed to this large number of dogs that enter an animal shelter only to leave in biohazard bags.

At the time this news story broke, we also found out that this shelter failed 11 out of 14 inspections.NC does not regulate euthanasia rates at animal shelters but this news caused investigators to visit and what they found was described as "deplorable." No food and water available to the animals, no shelter from the weather and a list of other infractions were all documented.

While the story behind one of the highest kill shelters in the US involving an extreme case of neglect and disregard of life, it is not unusual. Most animals that enter animal shelters will never leave.

Some people find the topic of spaying and neutering our pets to be a "sensitive" subject. I am of the mindset that as soon as possible, our companion animals need to be spayed/neutered in the hopes that one day most owners will feel the same. If we are to end the overpopulation and needless killing and abuse of "unwanted animals" it is our responsibility to step up and make that happen.

I will not hide that many years ago I was adamantly against adoption a shelter dog. I had two small children and I was in no way going to risk their lives and wellbeing by bringing in an animal with little to no background info with two small children to look right at them at eye level. We searched long and hard for perfect labs and retrievers that have consistently been at the top of the "best dogs for families with kids" list.

Now that I am older, more confident and have two children grown, my view has changed. I only have rescues now. Two-week-old kittens covered in ice and mud in an old tire ware now an essential part of our tribe 5 years later. A little petrified dog we suspected was abused was dumped on my daughter at work one day at her animal hospital. They immediately became members of our family we didn't even know we were missing.

Getting your dog and cat "fixed" or if you want to use the correct term, "spayed and neutered" is what I now consider mature pet ownership. Let's face it, we have all seen dogs and cats that have not been "snipped" and they are a handful.

The innate urge to break free of the house to hunt someone, anyone, to kill and maim and possibly get some "action" is exhausting for us parents. The urge to flee and find anything new, come home all beat up and bruised and at times smelling like they may have visited the local water treatment plant is no fun for the fur parents.

Spaying and neutering can cut down on that quickly, less fighting will lead to less exposure to diseases that can be fatal like feline leukemia and the feline AIDS virus.

Owners that decide to snip a somewhat aggressive dog can relax a little more once testosterone-driven behaviors like aggression, fighting, the desire to roam and random urine marking territory and the knowledge that your pet will no longer be contributing to the overpopulation of others are worth discussing with your family and your vet. Male dogs and cats may

Reducing the number of animals that do not have a home are usually unwanted strays. Spaying both females and males are essential. A male that is not are known to escape their yard and can father countless litters.

Animals that have been s/n will live longer lives. They are less prone to life-threatening illness and infections and don't roam the neighborhood which means less opportunity to get hit by a car or fight with other animals.

The decision to neuter a male dog is as equally important as it is for females. Men are more prone to react emotionally when deciding if their dog should be neutered. The decision to neuter a male dog is as equally important as it is for females. Men are more prone to react emotionally when deciding if their dog should be neutered.

Is neutering/castration an answer for dogs that show aggressive behavior? Yes and no. Dogs with aggressive behavior should be neutered because lower testosterone levels can help lower troublesome behaviors.

This is not a cure and owners should actively seek out help for underlying issues. Dogs that lack self-confidence and approach unknown situations and people with anxious behaviors like growling and biting may begin to display these behaviors more.

How many pets are in the United States? How many animals are in shelters?

About 710,000 animals who enter shelters as strays are returned to their owners. Of those, 620,000 dogs that were placed in a shelter were returned to their owners and 90,000 cats made it back home.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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