Too Many Homeless Pets: What Can We Do?

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I found another stray dog today. He was wandering my neighborhood with no collar and no identification. He’s the third one this year! I usually walk them around the neighborhood, ask the neighbors if they look familiar, then take them to the local animal shelter. I hang “found dog” signs if I have time.

I hope that their owners will find them or they’ll get adopted; I’d keep them all if I could.

It made me wonder how many dogs and cats end up in US animal shelters or rescue shelters. Estimates vary a lot—there could be anywhere from 6 to 12 million every year, according to my research.

Many of these are lost or homeless pets, but there are also plenty who are surrendered by their owners. Why? Good question. A government study I read gave some of the major reasons:

  • 11% of cat owners say “There are too many pets in our home.”
  • 7% of dog owners and 8% of cat owners give up pets because they are moving
  • 8% of cats are relinquished because of allergies
  • 6% of both dog and cat owners say that their landlord won’t allow the pet
  • For 5% of dogs and 6% of cats, owners say it costs too much to care for them

The study went on to say that 25% of the dogs are eventually adopted and 16% are reunited with their families. Almost all of the rest are killed. Adoption statistics are almost the same for cats, but nearly 71% end up getting euthanized.

Want to help this sad situation? Here are a few things to think about:

  • If your pet is lost, check your local shelters right away.
  • Make sure your pet always wears a collar with current identification.
  • Thinking of getting a new dog or cat? Save a life–consider pet adoption first!
  • No room for a new pet? You can help by donating your money or time to a local shelter. They might also appreciate old towels, blankets, pet food, cat litter, etc. Call them and ask what they need.
  • Make sure all your pets are spayed or neutered. There are too many cats and dogs as it is, and too many wasted lives.
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