Is there anything cuter than puppies or kittens? Picture it: a blanket-lined wicker basket tucked into a warm corner, filled with a mewling, snuggling pile of fuzzy kitties. Alternately, imagine a fenced-in whelping pen with sweet, closed-eyed, whining pups nuzzling into their mother for warmth and milk. Precious, isn’t it? Perhaps not for long…
I can not count the times I have heard people say things like, “Oh, she’s such a beautiful dog. We are looking for a male to mate with her.” “We want our children to experience the miracle of birth at least one time.” “We already have people who will take all the puppies (kittens).” Or, “It’s more healthy for dogs to have at least one litter before they are spayed.” (The opposite is actually true.) Or, “I could never remove my male dog (or cat’s)… you know…,” usually accompanied by an anthropomorphizing* cringe, as if spaying or neutering a pet was something the animal would grieve.
The sad reality is there are nearly seven times more puppies and kittens born each year than humans. There are not enough homes for all of the pet animals that are born, and the overpopulation problem does not seem to be waning. Tracking the actual number of pets that are euthanized each year is extremely difficult. However, official statistics published over the past two years range between four and ten million cats and dogs euthanized annually in the United States alone. If we were to accept a relatively conservative estimate of six million, that translates to over 16,000 dogs, cats, puppies and kittens being “put to sleep,” “put down,” or—dropping the euphemisms—killed every single day.
“But those aren’t the puppies or kittens that my dog or cat had,” I have heard people say. Granted, that may be true. However, something that you may not have considered is that every puppy or kitten that you sell or give away means one less shelter animal that doesn’t get adopted, and probably one more euthanized animal.
Over the past ten years a new trend has emerged in the shelter business. In addition to the Humane Society and municipal Animal Control organizations, thousands of individuals, appalled over the millions of animals that are put to death each year, have established “no-kill” shelters. These grassroots rescue shelters are often—but not always—breed specific, and rely exclusively on volunteers and private donations. Most of these shelters are filled to overflowing, and constantly struggle to find foster families and funding to keep their facilities open.
The Humane Society operates low-cost sterilization clinics and, along with rescue organizations across the country, educates pet owners and encourages spaying and neutering. The sad enormity of the problem of pet overpopulation far outweighs the sweetness of a basket of kittens in your living room.
This article took approximately three minutes to read. During that time in the United States, 33 animals were killed. If you love pets, please, help stop the over-breeding and needless death by getting your animals spayed or neutered.
*anthropomorphize: to attribute human form or personality to things not human
PETA got a serious scolding for this ad, and it has been removed. I thought it was pretty funny!