A stray animal is basically a domestic animal that has been lost or abandoned. The stray animal issue is by far one of the most visible animal welfare issues in the world. In many countries, the majority of strays have been abandoned, or are owned but allowed to roam about, resulting in unwanted kittens or puppies. Of all the animals, dogs are unfortunately one of the most affected animals; of the estimated 500 million dogs in the world, and outstanding 75% of those are strays. Every year, 4 to 5 million unwanted dogs and cats are euthanized because they are unable to find homes or they are in very state of health due to their time in the streets. For many years, there has been awareness of methods to be responsible when owning a pet. For example, pet microchips can be implanted into your pet. Within this chip, there is a unique ID that will now be associated with said pet. These chips are used to return lost pets quickly to their owners, avoiding expenses for housing, food, medical care, and euthanasia.
Unfortunately, many people decide to not implant their pets with this chip, resulting in lost pets. Even though this stray animal issue can be found worldwide, in some countries it is not as severe. For example, in Germany it is mandatory to have your pet spayed or neutered, drastically reducing the problem of unwanted animals being born. If a person would wish to breed their dog, they can apply for a license. Besides those few exceptions, every pet is spayed and neutered. When countries have this issue so under control, they don’t have to use the tax dollars on housing or euthanizing strays. In fact, countries like this are even able to adopt and rescue animals from other countries. In America, many pets cannot be taken in to shelters because they are too old or they have too many health issues. Therefore, unless someone wishes to house this pet, they remain in the streets, alone.
Why can’t they be taken in, though? Even if they probably won’t live for too much longer, that can have a home, a good quality of life for as long as he can, until the last possible moment. This isn’t possible because there are hundreds of other pets that are abandoned in that same shelter; hundreds of pets that require grooming, food, and a basic “roof” to live under. And all of this requires so much more money than that shelter may have. This issue regarding stray animals should not be ignored, or shrugged off. Gandhi once said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” This issue is rapidly progressing year after year, with so many more pets being abandoned or lost. Causes and Effects
There are so many causes to this stray animal problem we have in our community, most of which we can help prevent. One major cause of this is irresponsible animal ownership, which basically means that some owners just aren’t really good owners. These owners don’t really have what it takes to take care of a pet, so they abandon their animals in the street, which is often the unfortunate fate of the unwanted litters of kittens or puppies. Then there are some owners who just let their pets roam about, not bothering to look for them, because they know that will eventually come back. This brings me to my next point: uncontrolled breeding.
Those dogs that are free to wander around may be impregnated, or impregnate another dog, all because they aren’t spayed or neutered. This type of breeding with the stray population can indefinitely produce the next generation of stray animals. Unfortunately, the survival rate of these animals born stray is very low. There is also the problem of owners who allow their pets to breed as they wish within each other. Although this may not seem like such a big problem- their owner is breeding them, so they’ll have a home; what’s the big deal? – it truly is. This can very much lead to abandonment because the owner just can’t afford his/her pets, or just because they don’t want such a large amount of pets in their home.
Now, although this may not seem like such a big deal to those who don’t own pets, it really is. These stray pets, dogs and cats alike, carry diseases that can be passed to humans and other animals, such as rabies. The strays are roaming about from place to place, and their only source of food, if they even have one, is trash. Any type of food they find on the floor is their meal, and these types of meal just happen to contain so many bacteria and viruses that are just looking for another host so they can be passed on.
Everywhere we look we seem to find at least one homeless animal. It seems to be a major problem in our community but it turns out it is found worldwide. Many people around the world are unable to take care of their pets and abandon them; others are lost when disaster strikes. These that are left behind then start a family of their own which leads to overpopulation. Many people with big hearts try to do the most they can but with limited resources and space they are forced to turn away. Dog whisperer Cesar Millan wrote, “In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a memo came out that police officers were no longer supposed to bring stray dogs to animal shelters, because they were too full. Instead, they could either adopt the dogs, take the dogs outside of town, or they could just shoot the dogs.” He shares his thoughts and feeling about this heartbreaking news in his article “Solving the Stray and Unwanted Dog Problem”. He starts by saying, “Here we are, one of the greatest countries in the world and this is what we do with our dogs.” Many people decided to protest to protect the innocent animals of Harrisburg. Cesar was sure that this wasn’t the only police station with that policy out there; it was the only one that went public.
Lucy Miller, a Lancaster University student, traveled to Delhi, India to witness the horrific states in which stray animals are living. She describes what she has seen as sickening and upsetting to know that the government is doing nothing to help the poor animals. “In a country like India, which has numerous problems, it is easy to see how problems that do not directly affect the human population can be brushed over” says Lucy. She also adds that animal cruelty is not on the government’s priority list, although they do ask the public to help these poor animals. The Indian constitution states that every Indian has the duty to feed the strays, and that it is a criminal offence to stop this task from being carried out. The government also has a policy to sterilize strays, before returning them to the streets in hopes that they will eventually die out. Many Indians are turning to violence to try and get rid of strays. Some will even go as far as poisoning their food to kill them.
The Animal Welfare Activist of New Delhi have decided to take a stand for the helpless animals and created a petition entitled “Animals in India Need Urgent Help” which requested that law enforcement understand that crimes against animals are an indication of more serious problems. 1,400 citizens signed this petition that was addressed to the prime minister of India. Unfortunately they have taken no action yet. Cesar Millan has a greater plan to try and help the stray animals in our community. He had the chance to visit Germany and what he witnessed what remarkable. The people of Europe have so much respect and love for animals in their country. In Europe it is mandatory to spay or neuter your pets, it is also mandatory to have a license if you wish to breed your dogs.
They have everything under control with their animals that they rescue others from different countries. He adds, “The other thing that impressed me so much in Europe was how willing they were to adopt older or injured dogs” because he sees how Americans are towards injured or older dogs. Cesar wishes to educate more people about this problem and potential solutions like the ones in Germany. I believe that Cesar is right; more people need to see the reality of stray animals. It is hard for someone to speak up and make a difference unless you have many followers or you’re famous and rich, but as long as you take care of your pets you can influence many people.
Background of POSC
The shelter that we attended, Pet Orphans of Southern California, is the oldest, active, humane shelter that has a “no kill” policy. They have been open since 1973, marking their 40th year anniversary this year, all beginning with just a moment of inspiration. In the year of 1962, two good friends happen to see a tiny puppy while driving. This puppy, wandering near a freeway construction site was very well near death. They then decided they would bring home this abandoned puppy, and help give it a loving home. For many years, Diana Scripps and Virginia Haley began to take in strays, abandoned cats and dogs, and even went out of their way to go to shelters to directly rescue animals from there. They were the talk of the town, and soon ran out of room in their homes, so they boarded the rescues until safe homes were found. When their rescue outgrew this as well, they incorporated as a 501c3 organization in 1973.
The staff and POSC would like to be able to see a community where most, if not all, pets around have loving, safe, and responsible parent. This charity has a range of accomplishments including raising well over $1 million dollars in the past year, and rescuing over 14,000 animals. The animals that they come to rescue are under very good hands, as POSC has assisted 5,800 animals with medical care, since its inception in 2002, with their program, rightfully named the Good Samaritan Program. POSC have many programs that help not only the pets, but struggling pet owners as well. They also have a program, named Spay Neuter Program for obvious reasons, which has gone to save thousands upon thousands of animals from needless deaths.
Since 2003, the POSC’s program, Pet Orphans’ Humane Education, more than 13,000 children and youth have participated in this program, which teaches empathy for animals as well as treating all living beings with kindness and respect. For so many years, POSC has participated in and hosted so many programs to help pets. The founders of POSC had made it their mission to help these animals, and they have succeeded in so many positive ways. Unfortunately, Virginia passed away in 2009, but Diana continues to lead POSC onward, to accomplish even greater aspects to help the abandoned animals in this community.
POSC Services and Solutions
Pet Orphans of Southern California tries to do the most they can to help stray animals in our community. When we went in to tour their facilities we got the chance to learn more about exactly what they do and how it’s helping unwanted animals. Unfortunately because they are not a city shelter they cannot accept stray animals but they can take in pets that owners can no longer take care of. Although there is some hope for stray animals taken to the city shelters. Pet Orphans regularly visits the North and East Valley pet shelters and adopts pets they see that need to be rescued. If dogs are rescued they are immediately enrolled into Haut Dog School, which is a school located within their shelter. Here dogs are trained to become loving playful domestic pets, they are also taught tricks to keep them exercising. Pet Orphans has joined with Fox 11 News to help find homes for the pets they have in their shelter.
Every Friday a new pet is featured in the segment called “Pet Project” on the news to see if anyone would want to adopt them. When a pet is adopted, the shelter gives the new owners a week’s worth of pet food for their new family member. They do this to help the owners with expenses they are not accustomed to. Because they are doing all this to try and decrease the population of stray animals they do offer affordable neuter surgeries for pets. They do not offer to spay within their shelter because they feel it is more important to neuter males than females. They have a program where every Monday they have a veterinarian come in and perform the surgeries on the animals. The loving staff and volunteers at Pet Orphans go above and beyond to give the best to the animals they home. They are very successful at finding homes for their friends.
“Stray and Feral Cats” ASPCA < http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/cat-behavior/stray-and-feral-cats>
“Our Mission” Pet Orphans of Southern California < http://petorphans.org/our-mission/>
Miller, Lucy “The Plight of Stray Dogs in India” National Student 01st November, 2011
Millan, Cesar “Solving the Stray and Unwanted Dog Problem” Cesar’s Way 04th June, 2013