In a perfect world, every animal would live in a forever home with responsible and loving families. No animal would roam the streets or be abandoned. No animal would be cruelly treated, starved, injured or viewed as “disposable”. With more than a million kittens and puppies born every week, shelters face a bleak dilemma: turn away animals and leave them to an unknown fate or open your doors to all and find a way to make room.
Unfortunately, for millions of animals in this country, this is not a perfect world. Irresponsible pet owners created pet overpopulation and the need for animal shelters. A national survey found that 2,500 puppies and 4,200 kittens are born every hour and 160,800 every day. For all of these animals to find homes, 1,025,600 every Americans would have to adopt an animal every week. Impossible!!!
So, what happens to the unfortunate animals that do not find homes? Where do they go? Who will care for them? Do we ignore their plight? Do we leave them on the streets or country roads to starve, become injured or sick, and to continue breeding?
There are a variety of animal protection agencies that play different roles in the community:
- Some organizations (“No Kill”) choose to limit the number of animals they accept. This allows them to hold animals indefinitely until they are adopted. Animals at these facilities are only euthanized under special circumstances. Because these facilities stay full and they are not required to accept animals, many owner turn-ins and strays are referred to other shelters.
- Government agencies are required to take all lost and unwanted animals. These shelters are always full. Euthanasia is necessary to control overcrowding and the spread of disease.
- Private organizations who choose not turn animals away (“Open Door”), are also faced with overcrowding and euthanasia.
Shelters are constantly striving to reduce the euthanasia numbers, through education, spay/neuter and adoption programs. We cannot do this alone. Every person who owns a pet MUST step up and meet their obligations to that animal. They must ensure that the animal does not contribute to the overpopulation problem. They must ensure that their animal is a good citizen and they are considerate neighbors. They must commit to care for that animal for the rest of its life.
Only when all those who have taken animals into their families and homes take full responsibility for their pets, can we eliminate the tragedy and need for euthanasia. Only then can shelters close their doors.