Newsletter - Animal Writes sm
From 29 December 1999 Issue

Pet Overpopulation Improvements
by [email protected]

Time was when there was an estimated 20 million cats and dogs being killed in this country's animal shelters. Now it is estimated to be between 5 and 7 million. This should prove to anyone that it can be done, so we need to strive a little harder to come to zero population growth, and no shelter deaths of adoptable animals across this country.

There is one main way to achieve zero population growth, and that's through spaying/neutering. We need a stronger push to reach those that haven't gotten the message. Statistically, most dogs and cats do not come from breeders or from shelters, but from the public -- the friends, relatives and neighbors who procrastinated until it was too late, or who wanted their children to experience "the miracle of birth", or who thought their dog deserved to have the "joy of sex" or the "joy of motherhood". Unfortunately though, it is the breeders and the shelters who act as examples to those members of the procrastinating public. If shelters don't alter prior to adoption, and breeders don't alter prior to sale, then why should "the guy next door" do it?

We MUST not only spay/neuter dogs and cats for their own health, and because of the overpopulation problem, but also as an example to those who don't think altering their own pet will make that much of a difference. We must stop leaving it to the "other guy" to do, and take the responsibility ourselves. Whoever has possession of the animal "RIGHT NOW" must be the one to spay/neuter and not leave it to the next guardians to do.

Cost should not be the factor that keeps a breeder or shelter from altering. Both breeders and shelters can easily pass the cost on to the new guardian. Doing so will save money in the future by eliminating expensive health problems, and eliminating offspring that have to be cared for.

Age should not be a factor, as more and more veterinarians are opting for early age spaying and neutering. Even veterinary associations accept and recommend early spay/neuter. Never again will it be acceptable to give the excuse that "I didn't know the animal was old enough to get pregnant".

Though reducing the overpopulation problem will solve many sheltering woes, until we reach that point where shelters are only used as temporary holding facilities for those rare animals that are lost, giving their guardians time to rush to the shelter to find them, we should also be striving to improve the lot of animals that are in those shelters. Stopping pound seizure (the relinquishment of animals to research) should be a major priority. And, while we are on our way to no-kill status across the nation, we should do everything possible to make shelter euthanasia as humane as possible. That means no more decompression chambers, and no more carbon monoxide (gas chambers). If it must be done, then intravenous injection by a qualified veterinary specialist should be the only acceptable method.

For the love that cats and dogs give us, we owe them no less. People have caused this problem, and people can solve it. Let's stop making excuses and just DO IT.

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