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One prominent issue our society faces today is the overpopulation of animals. While many of us may enjoy our cat or dog’s company at our own home, we seldom think about the feral pets scavenging for food in the wild. With this also comes the overcrowding of animal shelters. Anyone can take simple measures to reduce these numbers of overcrowding and overpopulation. Simply by adopting from a shelter, spaying and neutering your pets, giving your pets proper identification, and educating yourself before adopting an animal can dramatically reduce overpopulation and overcrowding.
In the United States they are currently 2.7 million healthy, adoptable pets living in animal shelters. (Humane Society) But often, people would rather pay hundreds, even thousands of dollars to buy a “purebred’. However, it is proven that mutts are actually healthier dogs and less prone to contracting genetic disorders. A purebred Golden Retriever can cost up to $3,000 bought from a puppy mill, this averages about 50 cent a day for the dog.
Using a pet finder website or visiting the animal shelter to adopt a Golden Retriever can cost around $100, $2,900 less than a purebred adopted from a puppy mill. When veterinarian costs and general expenses are added in it can add up to be an extra $1,500 added to the initial cost. (Zawistowski) With purebreds being prone to disorders directly related to features breeders attempt to replicate amongst their dogs, this can increase problems within the first year of owning a pet, increasing vet bills even more. (Khuly) Do the math.
8-12 million animals pass through animal shelters in just one year. Out of these numbers 5-9 million are euthanized. (ASPCA) This is approximately 70% of all the animals that come to these shelters. (Ellis) That is nearly 250,000 euthanized animals a month. To take this into perspective, the population of Cary, North Carolina is around 145,000, that’s like euthanizing the entire population of the city of Cary twice. People do not recognize the consequences the animals suffer from overcrowding and overpopulation.
These kill-shelters experience such heavy trafficking of animals coming in, often dogs are only given 24-48 hours to be considered for adoption before they are euthanized. Pets that are euthanized first are often considered too skinny or too shy. There are some kill-shelters in North Carolina who still use gas chambers as a form of execution. Not only is this method of execution inhumane, as it can last up to 40 minutes before death, but it also may have to be repeated on the animal if it does not work the first time. One kill-shelter in Montgomery County, North Carolina euthanizes 100% of the cats and 98% of the dogs they receive. (Browder) However, there are even dangers present in no-kill shelters. When an animal is there for too long it may become institutionalized, where they become so accustomed to living in a shelter’s cage that they are afraid of living anywhere else. There are many precautions people can take to reduce these percents, such as adopting from shelters rather than puppy mills.
Not only would this save money, but it would also save an innocent animal’s life. In these shelters, most of the animals are not neutered or spayed. Within just seven years, one female cat and her offspring could theoretically produce 420,000 cats. Just the simple step of spaying your cat can reduce the overpopulation by 420,000. 90% of animals in the shelters are not spayed or neutered. There are many non-profit organizations called Trap-Neuter-Release groups (TNR) that trap feral cats that live in cat colonies, spay or neuter them, then release them back out into the wild. This helps reduce the many litters of cats born into cat colonies which can contain up to 250 cats at a time. Often the $90 fee associated with adopting a pet from the shelter covers the cost it takes to vaccinate and spay/neuter the cat. With the community spending millions of dollars a year to take care of unwanted animals, spaying and neutering can prevent the continuous growth of animal populations. This lack of precaution taken is what contributes to the incessant growth in overpopulation of animals.
For every human born it is the equivalent of a dog giving birth to fifteen puppies and a cat giving birth to forty-five kittens. That is a 98% higher birth rate than humans. For each of the stray animals in the United States to have a home that would mean each family would have to have ten dogs and thirty cats at all times. (Miller) Many may say that it is their pet and their choice to spay and neuter, and they are right. However, when fixed there is a lack of testosterone and estrogen being produced and this makes pets become a lot less aggressive, therefore reducing the rate of injury from bites. In addition to a friendlier bond with you pet, spaying and neutering also almost eradicate the risk of contracting uterine cancer, breast cancer, or prostate problems, which also eliminates the expensive payments accumulated at the veterinarian to treat these problems. (Petfinder)
Fixing your pets can even extend the length of their life. Many may think that just one litter doesn’t contribute to overpopulation, but over time litter after unspayed litter can create up to 420,000 cats that go on to be unspayed or unneutered. (Miller) Another argument is that the procedure is dangerous and will hurt the pets. In male pets, there are not any incisions made directly on the animal’s body, only three sutures placed on the underside to prevent bleeding. For females, a small incision is made on the abdomen from which the ovaries and uterus are extracted, all this of course being done while the animal is under anesthesia.(Kochan) After the procedure the animal may experience slight discomfort, but the veterinarian will prescribe medicine to reduce it. Often times, pets that turn up in shelters have no identification. Without this form of ID pets cannot be reunited with their owners if lost.
Only about 15% of dogs and 2% of cats that end up at shelters have proper identification. (Koll) Some pet adoption services even go as far as to install a microchip inside the pet. The microchip contains not only the animal’s information, but also the owner’s. Microchip scanners are passed over the animal’s skin, and if a microchip is present it will emit radio frequency waves which will read the unique ID code of the pet. These microchips are passive devices, meaning they have no initial energy source. The only time they are active is when a scanner is waved over the animal. This way there is no need to worry about dangerous waves harming your pet. Finally, one of the most important ways to eliminate overcrowding is to educate oneself on pet adoption. Often times people act spontaneously and decide to adopt a pet and later decide that they did not properly choose a pet that is suitable for their family or environment. These pets are then unloaded off at the shelter along with 2.7 million others animals.
There are often cases where a family has dropped off a pet they no longer wanted, but then changed their mind the next day and went to retrieve it, only to find out that in less than 24 hours their pet had already been deemed unsuitable for adoption and euthanized. Majority of the pets found in shelters are not kittens or puppies, but in fact adult animals. Many people adopt puppies and kittens because they are initially drawn to their cuteness, however they do not consider the long term responsibilities of pet ownership and turn them over to the pound when they become too much work. These adult animals are hard to adopt because younger animals are what people desire. People often do not take the time to educate themselves about the pet they are adopting and how well it will mesh with their family. Small children are often not good with small pets and single people with busy schedules do not have the time to put in to a large dog with needs. (Ellis)
This is also a leading cause of the overpopulation of shelters. Hundreds of thousands of pets are turned over to shelters each year because they become an inconvenience and financial burden. In fact, 25% of dogs found in shelters are purebred. (Petfinder) Considering all aspects of adoption is vital when one is thinking about adopting a pet. Pets are a huge responsibility as they are a living and breathing creature that can live anywhere from 10 to 20 years. (ASPCA) They require all of the basic necessities we need: food, shelter, and water, and just like us, they can’t survive without them. Before adopting a pet one should consider the initial reason they want a pet, considering all likes and dislikes.
Also, one should educates oneself and family on proper pet care and the challenges that will be faced when bringing a new animal into the home. Another factor to take into consideration is to find out all allergy information, because pet allergies are common amongst people. Often, when these factors are ignored and not considered, these adopted pets will end up in shelters. Overpopulation of animals in shelters is a nationwide growing problem. However, there are many precautions people can take to greatly reduce the numbers of homeless and euthanized animals. Simply by adopting from shelters rather than breeders, providing proper identification for a pet, spaying or neutering a pet, and educating oneself before adoption can significantly lower the rates of animal overpopulation. Not only does this help reduce the problem now, but it will also benefit animals in the future to come by providing them with loving, caring families that will take proper care of the animal they are adopting. Animals can be a great addition to any family if properly treated and cared for. The solution of overcrowding and overpopulation of animals lies within the hands of the people and educating oneself on pet adoption is a great place to start.
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