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Addressing Pet Overpopulation


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Is there really a pet overpopulation problem?
So your neighbor's dog has an unplanned litter of puppies. They were going to get her 'fixed', but didn't make the appointment at the vet's office soon enough. It's only 8 puppies, and 5 already have homes. What's the big deal?

This is a common scenario. Sadly, it IS a big deal. The number of healthy dogs, cats, kittens, and puppies that are euthanized (killed) each day in the United States is almost too big for the average person to comprehend. The estimates range from source to source, but mid-ranges are roughly between 6 to 8 million pets euthanized each year. This translates to 16,438 to 21,917 pets euthanized each DAY. Some annual estimates are as high as 12 million. I don't even want to do the math for that one. (Figures are from various sources, including, but not limited to: Cornell University, PetSmart Charities, and the Humane Society of the United States.)

Why is there such a rampant problem?
I have heard everything from "I want my kids to experience the miracle of birth" to "I don't want my dog's personality to change", to "my dog will get fat". Some people just don't realize how very easy it is for a male dog to 'find' a female in heat ( where there is a will, there is a way, and there IS a will!) or when a female will come into heat*.

Then there are those who think that they can make a quick buck by breeding and selling puppies (or kittens). People assume that each offspring is worth X amount of dollars, and wow - multiply that by X number of offspring, and we'll be rich! This is rarely the case. Responsible breeders know that proper selection and veterinary care (pre-pregnancy, during pregnancy and birth, and neonatal care and vaccination) all incur cost. Sure, there are those that sell their kittens and puppies to the local pet store, but that brings us back to the original problem. Too many "pet store puppies" and kittens are seen each day with congenital problems and infectious diseases, such as Parvo, Kennel Cough, and parasites.

What can I do about this problem?
Go to the next page to find out.

* "Heat" is when a female dog or cat is sexually attractive to males and can become pregnant. Onset of puberty in the dog ranges from 5-24 months, smaller breeds earlier than large breeds, most commonly in spring and fall. Onset of puberty in cats ranges from 4-10 months, 12-18 months in Persians. Source: Merck Veterinary Manual, 8th ed.

Text: Copyright © Janet Tobiassen Crosby. All rights reserved.

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