Is the Problem of Pet Overpopulation Serious? YES.
It's very serious. In the United States, thousands upon thousands of puppies and kittens are born each day because of the uncontrolled breeding of pets. Stray and abandoned animals add thousands more offspring to the population. The result is a huge number of dogs and cats for whom there are no homes. In addition, many people obtain pets without first thinking carefully about the decision. When the animal gets too big, develops a behavior problem or otherwise proves to be an unexpected challenge, the owner too often gives up on the animal. As a result, an estimated 4 to 6 million dogs and cats are euthanized in America's animal shelters each year because they are not wanted by anyone, anywhere.

Is it Possible for Such a Huge Problem to be Solved? YES. But only by spaying and neutering pet animals, will we be able to get a handle on this problem. Consider the fact that in six short years one female dog and her offspring can be the course of 67,000 puppies. In seven years one cat and her young can produce 420,000 kittens. Given these high reproductive rates, it stands to reason that carefully planned and implemented sterilization programs could produce a dramatic reduction in the number of unwanted companion animals born in only a few years. Successful pet-overpopulation control programs range from low-cost sterilization clinics, to co-operative efforts involving local veterinarians, to mass-media educational campaigns.

Are there Solutions I can Pursue in my Community? Yes.
Legislation can have the most direct impact simply by requiring that every pet adopted from a municipal or county shelter be sterilized within a certain period of time. Education, too, is an essential part of solving this problem. Unless people know the facts about pet overpopulation and sterilization, they are virtually helpless to do anything about the problem. Reduced spay/neuter fees play an important role in solving the problems as well. Subsidized spay/neuter clinics in some communities have already helped bring down the cost of sterilization. In areas where veterinarians have agreed to reduce their spay/neuter fees, we've seen a significant decline in the number of animals euthanized.

Can I Breed My Pet if I Find Homes for All the Offspring? NO. The sad fact is that there are already more companion animals than homes and each day animals shelters are forced to destroy thousands of dogs and cats because no one wants them. If you have a friend that wants to get a puppy or a kitten, urge that friend to adopt one from a local animal shelter where there is always a wonderful selection of mixed breed and purebred dogs and cats who are just waiting for good homes and loving owners. If your friend has his or her heard set on a purebred pet, mention that roughly 1 out of every 4 animals in shelters nationwide is purebred. Every time people adopt an animal from a shelter they save one more dog or cat from a tragic fate.

Won't Sterilization Make My Pet Get Fat and Lazy? NO. Your pet will actually benefit from spaying or neutering. Sterilized pets lead healthier, longer lives. Spaying a female eliminates the possibility of uterine and ovarian cancer and greatly reduces the chances of breast cancer. Neutering a male reduces the risk of both prostate enlargement and prostate cancer. Neutering also will make your pet more affectionate and less likely to roam, get in fights or become lost. Pets become fat and lazy as a result of overeating and the lack of exercise, not from spaying or neutering.

How can I be a Responsible Pet Owner? Sterilization is an important part of being a responsible pet owner. Responsible pet ownership also means providing adequate food, water, and proper veterinary care; obeying the leash laws, licensing laws in your community, and giving your pet the love, companionship, exercise, and attention he/she needs.

Are There Simple Steps I Can Take? YES. First prevent a litter. This is the single most important step you can take. Have your pet sterilized so that he/she does not contribute to the pet-overpopulation problem and adopt your next pet from an animal shelter. But don't stop there: spread the word in your community that the pet overpopulation problem must and can be solved. Work to ensure that all animals have homes, adequate food and water, proper medical care and lots of love.

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This page last updated on 6/26/06