I may lose some of you with this rant, but I really don’t care.
I read tonight that there are over 70 million stray animals living in the US alone. Let that sink into your mind for a minute. 70 million. Not thousand, million.
According to the Humane Society, only 6 to 8 million cats and dogs enter the nations shelters each year. Of the 6 to 8 million in shelters each year, about half will be euthanized, never to know a home of their own. This is due to lack of space in the shelters and lack of adopters; alone this equates to about 5,500 dogs alone being put to sleep. Each. And. Every. Day. Cue the Sarah McLachlan music, for reals.
Why on God’s green earth would someone pay thousands of dollars for a purebred puppy? I simply cannot wrap my head around nor comprehend the thought.
There are sooooo many animals waiting to die in shelters people would rather throw in the ground over giving up their dream of some perfect, expensive puppy. It really baffles the mind.
Families frequently buy dogs they can’t take care of or don’t fit into their lives and dump them in shelters to die. And yet people still whip out their pocketbooks to purchase a specific breed. Why? Ew. Odds are the very same breed they are looking for are available in a breed-specific rescue somewhere. Sure, the dog may be a bit older than a puppy, or may not look exactly how it was imagined in the buyer’s mind… but neither do our children, our loved ones, our families. And that is exactly what a pet becomes, a family member. Or at least they should.
The insane demand for specific breeds leads to puppy mills, where horrible living conditions and sickness translate into very expensive, often invisibly ill puppies being sent to boutique shops for unknowing purchasers to feed into. There are decent breeders in the world, but does breeding a specific animal help the homeless pet population? Not at all. Every animal purchased takes away the spot of a rescue animal, who will certainly be put down to die. Pitbulls have an over 90% euthanasia rate. This sickens me to the core.
I have rescued numerous dogs, cats, and even turtles off the side of the road. I have trapped, fixed (with the help of a local feral cat spay and neuter program), and released extremely wild cats back to their barn or forest homes. I have watched my mom find literally hundreds of stray kitties homes. At one point I had an English bulldog and 6 stray cats that I adopted. And I still felt like it wasn’t enough when I would pass a stray animal on the street. You know why? Because it will never be enough.
Until we as a people begin to put our money where our mouths are. Until we begin to adopt instead of shop. Until we begin to see that there are solutions to this problem in the forms of legislation, spay and neuter programs, no-kill shelters, and OUR OWN BEHAVIORS. I fear we will continue to spend billions as taxpayers on this problem annually. BILLIONS. And every day, thousands more will be faced with death. Thousands of undeserving, less than perfect mixed breeds who were just “ a little too old” or “a little too imperfect.” Like we are perfect. Pshh. Give me a break.
I don’t claim to have all the answers, I just know this. If you want a family pet, DO YOUR RESEARCH FIRST. If you are sure you can handle the lifelong commitment of becoming a parent to an animal, then please look into adopting. You will not be disappointed. The shelter will make sure you will be a good fit for your companion. If you cannot commit to own, perhaps consider fostering. I know a few really great people (I see you Jenna. You are amazing.) who foster dogs and make a huge impact in their lives without the lifelong commitment required to own the animal for many years.
I don’t know. These statistics have me feeling some kind of way. I am sure there are better persuasive arguments and data out there to convey the message I am trying to send. However, I really just wanted to vent and urge you all to ADOPT, DON’T SHOP tonight. If even one of you reconsiders purchasing an animal when so many need loving families, I will feel like I did some good in this harsh world. It’s like the starfish story. Individually we can’t save every animal, but to the one you do save… Hell. You sure made a world of difference to that ONE.
ADOPT. DON’T. SHOP. Please. And like Bob Barker says, “Spay and neuter your animals.” End rant. Thank you. Goodnight.
- Credit to the humanesociety.org for statistical information contained in this article.