My first blog post is dedicated to the “unwanted” dogs and cats out there in need of loving “forever homes.” And there are many of them…too many. I have never understood why some people don’t care for pets. They are so awesome! Aren’t they? I feel like they have been a blessing in my life.
Pets are special. They give so much back to us and make a meaningful impact on our lives. It’s because of this that it hurts my heart to see so many dogs and cats die every hour, every day, every year. The homeless pets that are roaming the streets to survive, the ones that spend their lives in a shelter through no fault of their own and even those in temporary foster care. All of these animals deserve much more than they’re getting. They deserve to be loved and cared for. They deserve to have a clean, safe place to eat, sleep, rest or be sheltered from the elements. They deserve to be protected from any person who tries to exploit them or harm them.
Sadly, the plight of homeless cats and dogs in this country has reached epidemic proportions. Consider some of these statistics (per the ASPCA website).
- There are 6 -8 million dogs and cats entering shelters in the U.S. every year. Tragically, 3- 4 million never make it out alive. They are euthanized by “kill” shelters that lack the resources to keep them. If you are a cat, well then, you’re really less likely to survive. Seven out of ten cats are euthanized and five out of ten dogs.
- Only 10-20% of pet owners acquired their dog or cat from a shelter or rescue group. Wow. This shocks me. All of my pets growing up came from a rescue situation and half of them from an actual shelter.
Why don’t more people adopt? Well, shelter pets get a bad rap. Some people think that shelter pets are unadoptable and end up there for a good reason. That’s typically not true. The fact is most are just…unlucky. Too many people still don’t get their dog or cat spayed or neutered and then all of a sudden, there are litters of puppies and kittens without homes – that then grow up into adult dogs that people don’t want. Many people fall out of love with pets after puppy-hood or kitten-hood and return them. Others legitimately can’t afford to keep their pet due to the loss of a job or home. Others are forced to relinquish them due to an allergy. And yet others simply lose interest in having a pet. In fact, I’ve heard some pretty ridiculous reasons where I volunteer. One person returned her cat because she discovered it didn’t match with her house décor (yes, true story!). Another returned his cat because the cat developed a minor case of the sniffles. The cat’s fault? No, of course not.
The most popular misconception about shelter pets is that they have significant behavior problems. Yes, sometimes that is true. Many times the behavior problems are easily solved with time, patience, commitment and training that can be done without the help of a professional.
I hope I live to see the day when no dog or cat is homeless or unwanted. I hope more people realize how amazing pets can be and decide to make them a part of their lives. And, equally important, I hope that those who do decide to adopt a pet, realize the responsibility they are taking on. Pets are not disposable. They shouldn’t be treated as such.