|The United States has a pet population of almost 9 million dogs, 7.5 million cats, and 0.6 million rabbits as well as other common pets, but only 40% of them manage to end up in households across the country / Photo by: ungvar via Shutterstock|
We talk about how we treat our pets like family, giving them a home, feeding them, caring for them, and even dressing them up. But not all pooches and other pets are fortunate enough to have a loving human family taking care of them. Their majority is still born on the streets and has no permanent homes. The United States has a pet population of almost 9 million dogs, 7.5 million cats, and 0.6 million rabbits as well as other common pets, but only 40% of them manage to end up in households across the country, according to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association. The other 60% remain homeless and without a family or are roaming around lost without proper identification.
Homeless Animals: By the Numbers
According to Do Something, a global non-profit organization that motivates and empowers young people to make a change online and through campaigns, only 1 out of every 10 dogs (or a total of 6 to 8 million animals) are able to find a permanent homes with the rest ending up in animal shelters due to owners giving up looking for their lost pets, animal control finding the pets on the street, or being actually born out on the streets. Around 7.6 million animals enter shelters nationwide each year, composed of 3.9 million dogs, 3.4 million as cats, and the rest of made up of various creatures big and small. Out of these figures, a majority are killed or euthanized every year because shelters are already too full and they can’t find new homes for them. Most of these are those that have grown old or gotten sick. Shockingly, 25% of dogs that enter a shelter are purebred and have every opportunity to be adopted.
The National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy shared that only 2% of cats and 15% of dogs that were of lost and found are returned to their owners, and these are rare cases where a pet owner would go through great lengths to search for their beloved animals.
|The National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy shared that only 2% of cats and 15% of dogs that were of lost and found are returned to their owners / Photo by: Roy Pedersen via Shutterstock|
Fixing the Homeless Situation of Pets
Thousands of shelters exist in the United States, 3,500 as of the last count. There are also 10,000 rescue groups and animal sanctuaries in the country, according to Humane Society International, an organization that works around the globe to promote the human-animal bond and confront cruelty in all its forms. The group also said that to control the growing population of homeless animals, a common solution is to spay or neuter them. Overpopulation in animals is a real issue, as owners that let their pets roam around until they get lost oftentimes become pregnant. And even if the pregnant pet managed to get back home, most owners would not keep the babies for lack of space and funds to take care of them. These end up in shelters or, worse, out on the streets to fend for themselves.
According to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), roughly 6 million to 8 million animals end up in shelters each year, with a total of 3 million to 4 million euthanized. The group has been implementing measures to lower the number of homeless animals by providing three mobile spay and neuter clinics, which have sterilized more than 88,000 animals since 2001. This is the only program that offers door-to-door service in southeastern Virginia and northeastern California. This has significantly lowered the number of animals, at least dogs and cats, which end up in shelters.
The public can also help in this regard. Should they choose to have a pet, the best way to do it is to go to an animal shelter and adopt one from there. Buying from a breeder or pet store means an animal at the shelter will eventually be euthanized.
Dozens of celebrities are backing this PETA endeavor, with Hollywood names such as Justin Bieber, Yvonne Strahovski, Lance Bass, Kellan Lutz, Patricia Arquette, and many more releasing public announcements on ways to prevent homelessness in pets and encouraging adoption.
As pet owners who love and care for your animal friends, it’s should be difficult to think of them being euthanized in overpacked shelters because they were not found after straying from your home. We want to care for our pets as much as we can, and this should start at where you get your animals. If you are planning to get a pet for the first time or an additional pet, please keep in mind that the best way to go about it is to adopt from animal shelters. Once you have them, don’t forget to neuter them if you don’t want them to have babies. With information and direct help from PETA and several other animal organizations, non-profits, and the like, you as a pet owner can be truly responsible for your animal friend. Remain informed and act in the interest and welfare of the animals.
|Thousands of shelters exist in the United States, 3,500 as of the last count. There are also 10,000 rescue groups and animal sanctuaries in the country, according to Humane Society International / Photo by: Maria Sbytova via Shutterstock|