05/01/2012 - By Gayle M. Irwin
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Spring not only brings flowers but also litters of puppies and kittens. Pet overpopulation is rampant, evidenced by the numbers of kittens and puppies brought in every year to area animal shelters, including the Casper Humane Society and Metro Animal Control. Sadly, the majority don't get adopted.
Animal welfare experts estimate that nearly seven to eight million dogs, cats, puppies and kittens come into animal shelters each year across the United States. Nearly half are euthanized – that's three to four million pets! Countless others are abandoned, left to fend for themselves as noted in a Casper Star Tribune article published last month. Most times, they, too, die from starvation, disease, animal attacks or vehicles.
For every person born in the United States, there are seven puppies and kittens born. An unspayed female cat or dog produces one to two litters per year with four to six in each litter. Therefore, one unspayed female and her offspring contribute several thousand additional animals in a lifetime. Animal shelters and rescue organizations become overwhelmed with the number of pets brought to them, both adults and youngsters.
National statistics estimate only 20% of people who add a pet to their home adopt from rescue organizations and animal shelters. About the same percentage purchase their pet from a reputable breeder. The vast majority acquire supposed no- or low-cost pets from family and friends, ads in the newspaper or online. The rest buy from pet stores, which frequently acquire the animals from a puppy mill situation in which animals are kept in confined, unhealthy conditions with little or no regard for the mental and physical health of the breeding animal(s). On average, people who adopt from rescues or shelters pay less in up-front vet bills because the animals adopted are vaccinated and altered prior to adoption.
There are two simple solutions everyone can employ to help combat the pet overpopulation problem in our community: spay or neuter your pet and adopt your next pet from the local animal shelters or rescue organizations.
Many myths exist about spaying and neutering. If you have concerns about the surgery and its affect upon your pet, discuss these with your vet. Below are some facts about altered pets to help combat the myths:
1. Altered pets are often more affectionate and better behaved.
2. Spayed females don't attract unwanted, aggressive males nor do they exhibit the nervous behaviors from hormonal changes and cry piteously waiting for a mate.
3. Neutered males are less likely to mark territory (such as your furniture) and they are less likely to roam.
Myths also exist about animals found in shelters. Here are some facts about pet adoption:
1. Most dogs that go into rescue or come into a shelter have been great family pets; it's no fault of their own
they've been displaced.
2. "Moving" is the #1 reason people give for giving up their pets.
3. Almost 25% of dogs in shelters are purebred.
4. Most cats found in shelters have been owned, wandered from home and were not reclaimed.
Please do your part to help combat the problem of pet overpopulation by spaying and neutering your animals and adopting new family pets. Pet overpopulation affects our community in negative ways, including roaming animals, aggressive animals, and too many animals. If you have a pet, be a responsible owner by being part of the solution instead of the problem.
Note: National statistics provided by the national ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States.
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer, author and speaker. Her works include stories about her dogs with strong, positive life lessons. She has also been published in editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul and the nature magazine Creation Illustrated. A new book release titled Now I See: Faith Lessons Learned from My Blind Dog is planned for late 2012. Visit www.gaylemirwin.com to learn more.