There are an estimated of 70 million homeless dogs and cats in the U.S., and an estimated of 200 million homeless dogs and cats worldwide!
What causes these dogs and cats to be homeless?
The main cause of the overpopulation is unsterilized dogs and cats. Unlike humans, who usually give birth to only 1 or 2 babies every couple of years, dogs and cats usually give birth to more than 2 pupppies/kittens each time. Every time a dog or cat gives birth, it adds to the already existing overpopulation of dogs and cats in this world. Currently there are more dogs and cats than there are loving homes for them. Some of these pets were abused by their owners due to lack of education about how to handle them. Some of these pets were abandoned/ neglected by their owners who could no longer take care of them due to financial difficulties or health issues, don’t have the time to take care of them or simply don’t want them anymore. These issues lead to the pets being left to fend for themselves on the streets. Dogs and cats are companion animals; They need humans to survive.
Companion animals like dogs and cats have a lower likelihood of surviving on the streets. They often get hit by cars. On the streets they are also vulnerable to attacks by other animals and cruel humans. When left to fend off for themselves on the streets they are also vulnerable to contracting contagious diseases and parasites, spreading them to other pets and then dying from these diseases. In cold weather, these stray dogs and cats have to live under freezing temperatures in parts of the country that get freezing climate. In the summer weather, they have to live under really hot temperatures and suffer from heat exhaustion.
There is an abundance of animal shelters and rescue organizations around the country, but there are still not enough of them. Due to overcrowding, animal shelters can take in no more than 6-8 million animals every year; This is only 10% of the total estimated number of homeless dogs and cats in the U.S. To make room for more animals, out of the 6-8 million animals that shelters take in, about 3-4 million of these animals have to be euthanized every year. Some of the animals that are euthanized are animals that have developed aggressive behavioral issues, but some of the euthanized animals are healthy animals that no one would adopt. Furthermore, many “no-kill” shelters have to turn away animals also due to overcrowding.
How does this impact YOU?
Overpopulation of companion pets is not only an ethical issue, but it’s also a financial issue for humans. Overcrowded shelters is a tax burden on the community. According to USA Today, “it costs U.S. taxpayers approximately $2 billion each year to round up, house, kill and dispose of homeless animals”. Additionally, sterilizing your pets will also ease your own personal financial expenses as the cost of taking care of a pregnant female pet and her litter is higher than the cost of spaying her.
What YOU can do to help:
- Sterilize your pets. Veterinarians and non-profit groups and shelters have been urging pet owners to spay/neuter their cats and dogs. There is a growing number of free and low cost spay/neuter clinics, including a spay/neuter mobile clinic created by PETA. However, many pet owners still don’t spay/neuter their pets.
- Don’t intentionally breed your pets. There is already a lot of pets that do not have a home, and breeding your pet will only add to the overpopulation of companion pets. When your pets breed, the kittens/puppies might end up in a shelter. As mentioned before, every puppy/kitten that is bred or that you buy from a breeder is 1 more companion animal that cannot find a loving home.
- If you’re considering adding a cat or a dog to your family, adopt from a shelter or a rescue rather than buying the cat/dog from a breeder. APPA (American Pet Products Association) reports that 34% of dogs are purchased from breeders, while 23% of dogs and 31% of cats are obtained from an animal shelter or humane society. For every cat/dog that you buy from a breeder is a cat/dog in a shelter that must be euthanized. By adopting a cat/dog from a shelter or rescue organization, you’re lowering the number of pets that must be euthanized and helping make more room in shelter/rescues to save more cats/dogs.
- If you don’t have a pet or can’t have a pet for any reason, there are things you can do to help too! Spread the word, donate to our cause or volunteer your skills for us.