Man’s Best Friend? America’s Broken Promise to Pets

bunnyAmerica is a country of animal lovers. In fact, over half of US households own a dog or cat. Yet, 8 million animals arrive at American shelters every year. Tragically, 3.7 million—or nearly 50%—are ultimately euthanized.

Many other pets end up on the streets. According to the US Humane Society, there are 50 million stray cats alone in the United States. These animals face incredible threats, ranging from traffic and harsh weather to disease and predation.

The sheer magnitude of shelter and stray animals has profound ethical implications. It also, unfortunately, creates significant health and financial problems. Stray animals can become hungry and rabid, attacking people and livestock. Furthermore, US taxpayers spend approximately $2 billion annually to capture, shelter, and treat animals.

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So how did this problem arise? One of the leading causes is pet overpopulation. Despite recent public awareness campaigns, a full 35% of pet owners neglect to spay or neuter their pets. Furthermore, though 17 million Americans acquire new pets annually, only 20% adopt from animal shelters. The remainder purchase from breeders or pet shops, “creating demand for irresponsible breeding”. Finally, many pet owners simply view their pets as “disposable”. They abandon their pets when they move, have children, or feel overwhelmed by the time and financial commitment.

The Humane Society of the United States

Still, there is hope! Americans can reverse the growing shelter and stray populations by adopting their pets from reputable non-profits. They can sterilize their pets early, preventing “accidental litters”. They can tag (or even micro-chip!) their pets in the event that they become lost. Moreover, they can educate themselves and others on the responsibilities of pet ownership.

To learn more, or to adopt your next pet, contact our non-profit partners! Simply visit our National Non-Profit Partners Page and select the “animal/wildlife” category.

Flickr photo credit: Susan G2

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