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Tackling Pet Overpopulation: Why and How

By Mawoo Pets · 29 Nov · 8 mins read
Tackling Pet Overpopulation: Why and How

Introduction

Pet overpopulation is a serious problem. Each year, 6 million unwanted dogs and cats go to shelters across America. Many shelters can't keep up with the large number of pets coming in. Because of this, many pets lose their lives because there aren't enough homes.

We must do something about pet overpopulation. As a worldwide issue, it affects pets deeply across the globe, and there’s an economic impact on the shelters, too. To reduce shelters getting too many pets and stop needless pet deaths, we must teach people to properly care for pets and fix dogs and cats.

This article will look at what causes pet overpopulation and what happens because of it. It will also discuss ways people are working together to help the problem. 

We will talk about solutions like adoption, low-cost spay/neuter, caring for pets, and stopping places that breed pets without caring for their health. Learning about this complex issue can make us want to help through advocacy and being good pet parents.

For more information on our mission to help create a home for every pet, read about the Mawoo Pets mission and approach.

Irresponsible Breeding Is a Problem

One big factor that feeds pet overpopulation is careless breeding. Puppy mills are where profit comes before pet health, and are extreme examples of this problem. They breed dogs in poor conditions and do not provide sufficient care for their animals.

In poor conditions, puppy mills breed their parent dogs to make litter after litter with no concern for their health. This causes millions of poorly bred puppies to swamp stores each year, and many end up in shelters.

In recent years, there has been an increase in puppy scams, too, where an unreputable breeder charges too much for a puppy, and then delivers an unhealthy puppy to you (or doesn’t deliver a puppy at all). 

Good breeding is key, as it delivers significant value including maintaining breed standards and controlling the volume of dogs produced. This is why it’s critical to work with a shelter or reputable, vetted breeder when bringing home a new pet.

For more information on how to spot a puppy mill, read our guide on this topic

Life is Hard for Homeless Pets

Many dogs who are abandoned or homeless lead a difficult life. Without easy access to food, water, and shelter every day, life on the streets is a struggle for stray cats and dogs. Many get sick, spread preventable illnesses, and are at risk of injuries, worms, and even attacks from other dogs.

Shelters work hard to rescue homeless pets from this. But limited funds and the huge number they see means not all can be helped. If untouched, outdoor pets usually survive only a few months dealing with constant threats.

When stray pets are lucky enough to be found by a shelter, a new set of problems arise, including that shelters often have pets in small kennels since the space is so tight. Unless adopted fast, there’s also the sad chance of being put to rest.

Shelters Are Struggling Under Pressure

The size of the pet overpopulation issue paints a sad picture. Reports say around 1 million shelter dogs and cats are euthanized each year, mostly due to a lack of sufficient homes or resources.

Animal shelters across America take in an estimated 6-8 million stray and surrendered dogs and cats yearly. But many can only hold a small part of that number. This often leaves shelter kennels very full of scared animals needing care, attention, and new homes.

This extreme crowding puts a lot of stress on workers and funds. With limited space and money, it's hard for shelters to help every pet. Looking after so many can mean basic needs like food, clean water, and medical help are difficult and costly. 

Sometimes the only choice seems to be giving a pet a peaceful rest when a shelter is too packed.

It's clear many pets are given to shelters, more than shelters can handle. Without working together to choose adoption over breeding, this sad situation will worsen. It shows we must act quickly to lower the flood of animals entering shelters in the first place.

Tragic Reality of Euthanasia

As animal lovers, staff dread one job: putting pets to rest at the shelter. This heartbreaking choice happens because there are too many pets for space.

While shelters aim to save lives through adoption programs and foster homes, the sad truth is they can't house every pet seeking help. With hundreds coming each month and not enough adopters, they sometimes must end a pet's suffering to open room for others waiting.

Reports show shelters across America sadly do this to around 1 million dogs and cats yearly, likely more. Without this awful solution, space would be even tighter.

With pet numbers flooding in endlessly, this shows we must act quickly on big solutions reducing accidental litters, more adoption, and foster help. Only then can shelters work to lower how many lose their lives due to no space each year.

Responsible Owners Help

Taking good, long-term care of your pet helps fix pet overpopulation. Many dogs are abandoned annually by families who are not sufficiently caring or ready to raise a pet. Too many pets come to shelters each year because the owners can’t care for them long-term or because there’s been an unplanned litter from pets not fixed. 

To avoid this, it’s important to have your pet fixed, keep them safe at home, care for them, and be prepared for the long-term commitment of raising a pet. 

When bringing home a new companion, pet owners should consider the 10-20 years commitment of raising an animal, and assess their financial and lifestyle readiness for this task. 

Spaying & Neutering Are A Big Help

Getting pets fixed through spaying and neutering is one of the best ways to lower pet overpopulation. When done for owned pets and strays, it cuts the source of millions of unwanted baby pets born each year.

There are other health benefits, too. Reports say female pets have fewer cancer risks in their breasts and female parts when fixed. Neutered male pets are less likely to get testicular cancer or prostate problems.

Beyond health wins, neutering cuts down on bad habits like aggression and wandering away from home. This helps reduce outdoor cats and dogs roaming around and the pet shelters must help.

Studies show that fixed pets also adjust better to new homes if adopted. They have fewer issues making them less likely to be put to sleep at shelters. 

Whole communities can also pitch in with low-cost programs to spray and neuter pets cheaply. This cuts down the number of unwanted baby pets born who will need homes. When fixed cheaply through programs, whole neighborhoods have seen pet numbers fall over time. 

Pet owners have a responsibility to prevent unplanned baby pets starting early with fixing. Doing this helps shelters not get too many pets and reduces animals homeless on the streets.

Shelters As Community Advocates

As frontline help, shelters play a vital role in pet health and safety. They not only care for animals in their facilities, but humane societies also provide education and local community support.

Shelter programs can teach good pet parenting including how and where to spay or neuter a pet, how to keep your pets safe, and how to handle allergies. Some shelters also offer affordable fixing services.

Foster families who temporarily house shelter pets at home help the animals avoid the stress of living in kennels until they find homes. Rescue transport also moves pets from crowded country shelters to shelters in cities where more people adopt.

Donations and fundraising events give shelters much-needed money for pet food/supplies, medical care, and shelter bills. Through their dedication, shelters support neighborhoods fixing pet homelessness at its root. Their programs aim to lower the number of pets coming in and increase good endings for homeless pets.

Consider Adoption

Shelter pets needing homes gain a gift: life with a loving family. By opening homes to shelter animals, adopters save lives and create space for others seeking help.

By making an adoption, you know that your choice eased crowding issues while providing a home to a pet who may otherwise not have one. Shelter pets can make great pals, especially with the right parenting and treatment. 

There are of course scenarios when adoption is not possible. For example, your local shelter may not have the specific breed that you’re looking for, or may not have puppies under 6 months of age available. But it’s good to always consider adopting first before purchasing from a reputable breeder.

If residents more commonly adopted as a kind alternative, neighborhoods could greatly cut shelter pet populations with available homes. Committing adopted pets for life prevents added shelter returns.

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