Americans love their pets. Nearly 11 million American households get a pet each year! Increasingly, people are choosing to adopt rather than shop for their furry companions. However, the majority of American households still buy their pets from breeders and pet stores. This demand sustains cruel puppy mill operations, which produce a seemingly endless supply of puppies—many with health problems—simply because it is profitable. It is true that not all animals sold in pet stores are from these unscrupulous operations. There are reputable cat and dog breeders out there. But we can’t ignore the fact that millions of homeless cats and dogs in the United States are euthanized every year. Why are we continuing to support the breeding of cats and dogs when there are already so many wonderful animals that need homes? The hard truth is that, despite the efforts of rescue groups and animal organizations to educate and inform, many people still don’t know the basic facts about animal homelessness. Thus, the enormous pet homelessness problem in the U.S. continues. Broadway Barks researched and compiled the top 10 facts that everyone should know about animal homelessness. How many do you know?
1. According to the Humane Society of the United States, there are roughly 70 million stray cats and dogs living in the U.S. Only about six to eight million of these animals find their way into the nation’s 3,500 shelters each year.
2. According to DoSomething.org there are roughly five homeless animals for every homeless person in the U.S.
3. The two main reasons animals end up in shelters are because they’ve either been surrendered by their guardians or picked up off the street by animal control officers.
4. Only 10 percent of animals entering shelters have been spayed or neutered. According to North Shore Animal League’s SpayUSA, one un-spayed female dog and her offspring can create 67,000 dogs in six years, and one un-spayed female cat and her offspring can produce 2,072,514 kittens in eight years!
6. Only three to four million cats and dogs are adopted from shelters each year.
7. Nearly half of all animals that arrive in U.S. shelters are euthanized because there is a lack of space and adopters.
8. Five out of ten shelter dogs and seven out of ten shelter cats are euthanized each year, which amounts to roughly 80,000 animals systematically killed per week.
9. One in four animals brought into shelters are pit bulls or pit-associated breeds and mixes—currently the most (wrongly) marginalized dogs in the U.S. Pit bulls and pit mixes have a shockingly high euthanasia rate of 93 percent.
10. The impoundment, sheltering, euthanasia, and subsequent disposal of homeless animals costs U.S. taxpayers between one and two billion dollars annually.
These 10 facts inevitably bring us to two conclusions.
1. Breeding cats and dogs for profit is unnecessary and unsustainable, and is resulting in the needless killing of millions of healthy, innocent animals every year.
2. Stopping animal homelessness is possible, and we have the power to do it. How? Say no to pet stores and breeders and instead choose to adopt from animal shelters or rescue organizations. Spay and neuter your companion animals to ensure that they will not reproduce and contribute to the problem. We can also support groups working to solve the animal homelessness problem through no-kill shelters, low-cost spay/neuter programs, trap-neuter-release programs, and promoting legislation that protects companion animals from needless suffering. We can make sure that no cat or dog becomes a heartbreaking statistic ever again.
Contributed by Charlene Sloan