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Animal Shelter statistics can be inflated to generate funding or spay and neuter laws for a non-existent overpopulation problem, you need to know this…





by Donna P. Noland


In USA Today, there was an article entitled "Sterilizing pets isn't a priority for new owners."  As I was reading, I couldn't help but be conflicted.


Most of the animal shelter population is mongrels - unless the shelter buys cute purebreds to sellOn the one hand, I understand the need for voluntary spay/neuter programs, especially in certain areas of the country.  As one reader stated "Southerners and the under-35 set are the least likely to sterilize their pets."  As much as I hate to admit it -- dyed-in-the-wool Southerner that I am -- this is true.  We have a higher percentage of farm dogs and cats, and of course, hog dogs, coon dogs, and some world-famous Foxhound packs.


To spay or neuter shows a certain level of caring and commitment to responsible pet ownership as people become more educated about exactly what having animals in their lives entails.  All I can say to that is "HURRAY!"  More responsibility is directly related to less restrictive animal ordinances to lower shelter figures.


But embedded in this article are some things that make the fillings in my teeth sing!  For example, there is a report that 68% of owners acquire animals from family members, adoption organizations, and shelters. We are told only 12% are acquired from purebred breeders!  TWELVE PERCENT.  And yet, purebred dog breeders are always the ones catching hell for swelling the numbers of the homeless, abandoned, or callously bred animals entering the shelter system. 


I'm sorry but something just doesn't add up here. Purebred dog breeders are used as a scapegoat to push mandatory spay/neuter laws onto an animal-loving population when proportionately they contribute hardly a thimbleful to the gallon bucket called "overpopulation".


The second thing that raises my eyebrows is this statement:  "PetSmart Charities commissioned the survey by Ipsos Marketing an effort to understand factors contributing to continued pet overpopulation, which results in an estimated 4 million to 6 million shelter animals being euthanized each year."


According to 2010 statistics, there were currently 74.8 million dogs owned in the United States. In 2009, shelter statistics were widely quoted as "6 to 8 million dogs and cats entering the shelter system, with 3-4 million being euthanized and the same number being adopted." Of the estimated total number of dogs owned and with the shelter figures added together, the total would be about 78.8 million dogs in America. (Editor's note, as of 2017 there were 89.7 million dogs owned in America (


So only .05 percent are in animal shelters at any point in time.  Not only that, but experts tell us that shelter numbers have been dropping for the last several years.  All of this just doesn't add up to a true "overpopulation crisis" to me although I can understand that when you're the one doing the hands-on rescuing (as I did at one time), it can seem like a crisis.


Other tidbits of information such as "17% said they have no idea of the proper age to spay/neuter" and "42% of people who recently got a pet did no prior research, formal or informal" tell me that the crux of the matter is still education or rather, the lack thereof.


PETA and other groups are out there in our school systems with personal visits and teaching materials to shape children into their way of vegan thinking.  Why aren’t more local shelters, breed rescues, and all-breed dog clubs out there educating people?  Don't we all want the same thing:  animals safe and loved in a caring home?  Why doesn’t each community appropriate funds to educate owners instead of so much funding for Animal Control enforcement


There are groups with good ideas.  The American College of Theriogenologists makes these suggestions:

  1. support programs to expand the public awareness of pet overpopulation, acceptable breeding standards, and responsibilities of pet ownership.  Provide the public a means to access assistance with concerns of pet health, ownership, behavior and management issues.

  2. provide low cost spay/neuter facilities for economically disadvantaged person and communities.

Other ideas include publicly supported dog training classes and low cost community educational clinics on proper pet care. Veterinarians would donate time (and gain new clients) if only we asked. The USA Today article made me realize that there is a big need for public education.


SURVEY: Is there a free or low cost PET OWNER EDUCATIONAL program in your area? [YES]  [NO] 


As a dog owner, breeder, trainer, or veterinarian, do you support a PET OWNER program?  [YES]  [NO]


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