Please forgive my absence. It has been a busy week. You’ll see why at the end of this post.
“Oh Fluffy had babies again. Since we can’t care for them, i guess we ought to take them down to the neighbors farm.” “Rex is to hard to handle. Guess we should take him to our local shelter.”
Every day numerous companion animals are either brought to a local shelter or they are just dumped off at nearby farms, woods, other rural places and even other places within a city. People think they’ll be fine wherever they’re dumped. Truth is, they’re not. Here are a couple of facts you may not know about unwanted pets from the ASPCA and DoSomething.org websites:
- Approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year. That’s 3.3 million dogs and 3.2 million cats. About twice as many animals enter shelters as strays compared to the number that are relinquished by their owners. The main reasons animals are in shelters: owners give them up, or animal control finds them on the street.
- Each year, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats) because shelters are too full and there aren’t enough adoptive homes.
- Only 1 out of every 10 dogs born will find a permanent home.
- Homeless animals outnumber homeless people 5 to 1.
- According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP), less than 2% of stray cats and only 15 to 20% of stray dogs are returned to their owners.
- 25% of dogs that enter local shelters are purebred.
- It’s impossible to determine how many stray dogs and cats live in the United States. Estimates for cats alone range up to 70 million.
- Only 10% of the animals received by shelters have been spayed or neutered. Overpopulation is due to owners letting their pets accidentally or intentionally reproduce. Millions of these “excess” animals are killed annually.
- Many strays are lost pets that were not kept properly indoors or provided with identification.
Some days I think many humans don’t seem to understand is that even tho cat and dog ancestors at one time lived in the wild, the ones we see today are usually born in a human home. They depend on us for their food, shelter and, perhaps most importantly, our love. It’s not like Mother Nature has a bag of kibble and a comfy bed waiting for them by a fire in some nice, outdoor warm shelter. Plus she can’t sit down to cuddle and pet them. Matter of fact, Mother Nature can be pretty cruel to Fluffy and Rex.
Yes, at one time in Fluffy and Rex’s ancestry, they were able to easily find food in the wild. They knew how to hunt and did so with ease. Since man has domesticated them and our little fur balls have grown accustomed to us giving them food that doesn’t need to be hunted down and killed. In the wild, they also have competition for their food. For example, on a farm there’s usually dozens of other cats. While there may be plenty of rodents on the farm for them to kill, there is often not enough. Even if they do find a tasty little morsel, there is usually another cat who’ll try to take it away often with success.
When it comes to getting out of the elements, unless they luck out and find another human to take them in and give them shelter and warmth, they will end up sleeping under a bush or some other structure type place. Depending on where in the world they live, it can get downright cold in the winter. Finding a dry warm place is definitely challenging.
To put a human perspective on it, imagine yourself going into the wilderness with no food, clean water and no shelter. While I’m at it, if you’re a hunter, imagine having no skills or tools to get your food. Would you be able to survive? For a short time, probably but if you never do find food, shelter or a pack to run with you will surely die.
There is however a way to decrease the number of unwanted pets. While some people think it’s cruel or unfair to do this, spaying and neutering can drastically cut the unwanted population down. Doing this also has health benefits. Did you know that as soon as puppies and kittens are taken away from the mother, she is able to get pregnant again. Conceivably, mom can get pregnant 3 times in a year. If you’re a mom with children reading this, you know how hard just 1 pregnancy in a year was on your body, right? Imagine being pregnant 3 times in one year! There are also studies of other health benefits to spaying and neutering such as a cancer prevention.
I’ve had plenty of experience with regards to strays and unwanted cats and dogs. From working at our local animal shelter to living in the city, I have either rescued or chased away stray cats. On one side of town, the stray cat population was so prolific that squirrels and songbirds were a rare find. When I worked at our shelter, I was amazed and heartbroken seeing all the unwanted or stray cats and dogs that were brought in. Many of them had bloody fur from fighting, sick with upper respiratory infections or were beyond socialization.
Currently, I live just outside our city in a little community. When I moved in here just 3 short months ago, there was a mama cat with 3 or 4 kittens in tow. The other morning, a couple days after my 3 month “anniversary” of being here, I heard an all to familiar sound. A crying kitten. When I finally found the little fur ball under my home(with mama protecting it) I saw just how tiny it was. Eventually I got it inside the house and was sad to see how young it was. Only 2 weeks old. No teeth, eyes and ears barely open and covered in fleas. Later that afternoon I heard the same cries again. Sure enough there was a 2nd one. A 3rd one was heard but never found. By now, if mama didn’t get to it, I fear it had a worse fate.
Mama, unfortunately, is the product of a human tossing her out like yesterday’s garbage. She is completely feral(wild) and nutritionally deprived, especially after having 2 litters of kittens this year alone. It’s no wonder Autumn and Punkin are as skinny as they are. Perhaps this is why she neglected Autumn in the first place then allowed me to take Punkin from her. Angry as she was, I think she knew I could care for them better. As I write this, it’s been a week ago today that these two unexpectedly fell in my lap. They’ve each gained 4 oz and are happy, healthy and loved.
Thought for the day: Please spay or neuter your pet. Each pet that has that done brings us one step closer to reducing the number of unwanted pets.
***Please be sure to read more of my posts