The fact is that overpopulation of pets in the United States exists today. Many people think that not spaying or neutering their pets will save them money, but according to the ASPCA “the cost of spaying or neutering a pet is less than the cost of raising puppies or kittens for a year” (“Pet Statistics.”). This overpopulation of animals leads to abandonment and neglect. These unsprayed, un-neutered, uncared for animals will then go on to have litters of their own. These puppies and kittens will also be neglected and will become part of the vicious cycle of overpopulation. Though there are shelters to help care for these abandoned animals, there is often too little space for all who need assistance. When shelters are full, they must turn down and often euthanize the animals being brought in. According to the ASPCA, “only 10% of animals received by shelters have been spayed and neutered.”
Spaying and neutering does not only help prevent overpopulation, but helps protect against health issues as well. “Early spaying of female dogs and cats can help protect them from some serious health problems later in life such as uterine infections and breast cancer” and “neutering your male pet can also lessen its risk of developing benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate gland) and testicular cancer” (” Spaying and Neutering.”). According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, these procedures have no effect on the animal and, in fact, better the behavior of the animal resulting in a better companion.
As stated by Ingrid Newkirk, a worker for PETA, there are low-to no-cost spay and neuter mobile clinics that help people that cannot afford it to get their animals “fixed” and given vet care (Newkirk, Ingrid). There are resources like PETA located all around the United States. For example, there is an organization in The Dalles, Oregon that spays and neuters stray cats before releasing them again. They also provide these procedures for pets when their families cannot afford to go to the vet. These trap-neuter-return programs are a step toward reducing the number of abandoned and stray cats (Feral Cat Coalition).
Think Adoption First
“Of the dogs entering shelters, approximately 35% are adopted…of the cats entering shelters, approximately 37% are adopted,” leaving the majority to be euthanized (“Pet Statistics”). Once an animal has been brought to a shelter, it is not likely to be reunited with its family. Rather than adopting, people turn to breeders and pet stores for furry companions. Of the 7.6 million companion animals sheltered nationwide each year, approximately 2.7 million are adopted. As a pet owner, I always think adoption first. All of my companion animals have either been adopted or rescued. If more people considered adoption and used programs like Cat Link and PETA, we could drastically reduce the number of stray companion animals nationwide.
With each pet we adopt and spay/neuter, we reduce the overpopulation by 4-6 at a time. It might not seem like much, but we can reduce overpopulation one litter at a time.
How to Help
There are organizations dedicated to getting abandoned and unwanted animals off the streets. Volunteering can help get them the care they need and get unhealthy animals into facilities to receive proper care. Here are some websites explaining different volunteer opportunities:
- Newkirk, Ingrid. “Why We Euthanize.” PETA Why We Euthanize Comments. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, 21 Mar. 2013. Web. Mar. 2016.
This is a blog post from a woman, Ingrid Newkirk, who had first-hand experience working with shelters. Her experiences shed light on how important it is to spay and neuter your pets and the damage that neglect and abandonment has on animals. She talks about how animals can get so ill from being mistreated that the only option is to euthanize them to put them out of their misery. The staff at these shelters were not graceful at all and did not try to comfort the animal before/during being euthanized. Ingrid helped animals that only knew a life of misery and pain.
- “Pet Statistics.” ASPCA. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, n.d. Web. Mar. 2016.
This source provides statistics on adoption and overpopulation of animals in the United States. The ASPCA keeps estimates of the number of animals in the US as well as how many of them are in shelters.
- ” Spaying and Neutering.” Spaying and Neutering. American Veterinary Medical Foundation, n.d. Web. Mar. 2016.
The AMVF uses this article to talk about the pros and cons of spaying/neutering your animals. They explain how there are alternative options to traditional surgical sterilization and the benefits of sterilization. This article provides information about the risks of spaying/neutering as well as information about when to do so.
- “Welcome to the Feral Cat Coalition Website!” Feral Cat Coalition. N.p., n.d. Web. Mar. 2016.
The Feral Cat Coalition is a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the number of feral cats by human TRN (trap-neuter-release). Their website talks about how they help with the overpopulation of cats. Along with TNR, they also spay and vaccinate cats. After a cat is spayed/neutered, they monitor them before returning them to the wild. They also provide information on how to help and ways to donate.