Animal shelters are often criticized for euthanasia rates. Some are considered “no-kill” if they have a 90% live release rate, meaning that nine of every ten animals that enter the shelter are left. Unfortunately, reputable sanctuaries are few and far between. Many are ill-equipped to care for animals with long-term medical conditions or behavioral issues.
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Spay and Neuter
The best way to fight animal overpopulation is to ensure pets are spayed and neutered. This routine, affordable surgery prevents animals from having litter that will be abandoned on the streets or euthanized in shelters because they cannot find homes. It also helps keep the costs of pet ownership manageable, allowing many families to enjoy the companionship of a pet without paying exorbitant breeder prices.
A major problem facing communities is a growing number of stray cats and dogs, which can enter garbage cans, attack children or prey on wildlife. They can also cause car accidents and damage property. The solution is to spay and neuter your pets and encourage others to do the same.
In America, there are 23 million people who plan to get a pet next year. If each of these people adopted just one shelter animal, the number of animals killed could be reduced by a third.
In the past, those who wished to justify shelter killing argued that there were too many animals and that this necessitated killing. This argument is based on a myth, which has been largely disproven by the experiences of communities implementing No Kill.
Nevertheless, the proponents of this myth cling to it tenaciously because they have a vested interest in promoting the killing of animals. This includes shelter directors who run poorly performing shelters and government bureaucrats in these communities who shield these directors from greater accountability. It also includes national organizations like the Humane Society of New York, whose companion animal divisions are staffed by former shelter directors who refuse to challenge their colleagues in the killing fields of traditional shelters.
It’s hard to resist the adorable faces of a puppy or kitten, so they are often the animals most likely to be adopted out of shelters. But a little education and humane responsibility are also essential. Pet ownership is a big commitment. People must understand that. When they don’t, animals end up at shelters, where it can be difficult to find new homes due to overcrowding. Some surrender their pets for logical reasons, like a lost job or a pregnancy, while others abandon them when they no longer want or can care for them.
To a true animal lover, the fact that the main excuse historically used to justify systematically poisoning and gassing millions of animals each year turns out to be a complete fabrication should be welcome news. But unfortunately, for many within the animal welfare community, this is a cause to retreat rather than advance. To be truly effective, they must look at what goes on in their communities today.
Many animal rescue organizations work to keep pets out of shelters and homes through spaying and neutering, education, foster care, and fostering relationships with local pet owners. While educating pet owners is key to this effort, the other important piece is getting people to realize that they do not have to abandon or surrender their pets to shelters.
For example, in a community with a high poverty rate, it is not unusual for people to abandon their animals on the streets or leave them outside to fend for themselves. During kitten season, this often results in a large influx of underage cats, many of whom are euthanized for lack of homes.
For those who have embraced the idea that there is no national or regional pet overpopulation, it should be a welcome relief to know that the main excuse historically used to justify killing millions of animals yearly has collapsed like a house of cards. Leaders within the animal protection movement, those who defer to them, and true animal lovers would celebrate this news.