Animal Over-Population Needs Best Friends
By Bryan Cropper
Every year, four million cats and dogs are euthanized in animal shelters across the United States. That’s one cat or dog put down every eight seconds.
An incredible statistic like this is hard to believe, but it is the hard truth. Why do all these cats and dogs need to be put down? What is the reason behind this senseless euthanasia? Couldn’t these pets find good homes? The fact is the animal population is simply over-populated.
There are a number of solutions to help combat the state of animal over-population in the United States. “The number one solution to fixing the problem of overpopulation,” said Lindsay Cropper, a graduate of Delaware Valley College who majored in animal bio-technology and conservation, “is spaying / neutering your pets. This prevents more unwanted animals from being born; there are simply not enough homes for the amount of homeless animals in the U.S., which leads to euthanizing, in many cases, perfectly healthy animals.”
Only ten percent of the animals received by shelters are neutered or spayed, and seventy-five percent of owned pets are spayed and neutered. This means that often these pets are brought in pregnant or owned pets can become pregnant. Why aren’t all pets spayed and neutered?
Another option to consider is adopting pets strictly from animal shelters, which can reduce the amount of over-population. About fifteen to twenty percent of pets are adopted from shelters and rescue sites. The rest are purchased from breeders or pet shops. Puppy mills (institutions where puppies are bred for the sole purpose of being sold, often to pet shops) have been around for decades and are a contributing factor to over-population.
The conditions are indeed shocking: when breeding animals’ fertility runs out, they are killed, abandoned or sold cheaply to another mill to try to force “one more litter.” This act in itself contributes to millions of puppies born annually, often many with behavioral and/or health problems.
Best Friends Animal Society, based in Utah, is the largest animal sanctuary in the United States. “Best Friends has come up with an innovative way to keep the problem of pet over-population down,” says Cropper, who interned at Best Friends during the summer of 2008. “They created a campaign called ‘First Home, Forever Home’. Recently there has been an increase in shelter-surrenders from previous owners due to financial problems because of the recession. Best Friends helps by donating food to owners who need help taking care of their pets. This prevents the pet from becoming another statistic.”
In addition to “First Home, Forever Home,” Best Friends also initiated a campaign called “No More Homeless Pets.” Their goal is to one day bring about a time when no pets will be homeless or killed needlessly in shelters.
Information about the Best Friends’ many campaigns to help combat the over-population of pets in our country is available at www.bestfriends.org. Those interested in adopting a pet from an animal shelter should visit www.petfinder.com.
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