Companion Animals 101

By Diane Robertson

I want to start my blog by saying that I was horrified to learn that up to 90% of the animals taken to animal shelters are killed.  Some shelters are the opposite, with “live release” numbers around 90% with about a 10% kill rate.  For those awesome shelters, we can safely assume the 10% were truly euthanized and not just killed.

There is a big difference between the words killed and euthanized.  Many people use the word euthanized because it sounds better than saying killed.  I would like to suggest that people use the correct terminology.  Pets are euthanized when they are suffering, when they have reached the end of the lives, when they are racked with cancer and other valid reasons.  It is an act of compassion.  Some animal shelters simply kill animals that have been surrendered to them or that have been caught as strays.  Really!  For example, there are many shelters that do not allow adoptions of pit bulls.  What this means is the animal comes in the front door and immediately goes out the back door in a body bag.  Most shelters have a 10-14 holding period after which the animal will be killed.  This includes perfectly healthy puppies, pure breed dogs and cats, and everything in between.

No kidding folks.  Check out the ASPCA, the No-Kill Nation and your local shelters.  They all tell the same story.  Also, your local shelter may also publicize their intake and adoption rates on their website or Facebook page.  Shelters that kill healthy animals often believe they are doing the right thing for the community.  They believe that there are not enough homes for all the animals and so this is work that must be done to control the dog and cat population.  I reject these arguments and so do millions of other people in this country.

How can you help?

  1. Get your dogs and cats fixed (spayed or neutered).  Most areas have low-cost and no-cost programs.  If you still cannot afford any small fee being charged, ask for help.  There are lots of folks out there that can afford $35 to help potentially save dozens of lives that just one unaltered dog or cat can produce.
  2. Adopt your next cat or dog from a rescue group or shelter.  Never buy a cat or dog on the Internet or from a breeder you do not know very well.  Many rescue groups have available animals at your local Petsmart store, online at petfinder.com, other websites and at local shelters.
  3. Help educate people on the importance of spaying and neutering their pets and learn about the TNR (trap, neuter and return) movement.  “Community” cats are becoming more common these days.  A community cat or colony of cats refers to unowned cats that live in the community but the entire community helps by leaving food and water out for the animals and providing some type of shelter for the animals.

I encourage everyone to read more about animal shelters, visit your local shelters, volunteer when possible, donate when possible and consider fostering a dog or cat until it can be adopted.

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