Animal Homelessness: The Crisis and the Cure
Every year, about 200,000 dogs and cats are euthanised in Australia’s animal shelters and pounds for lack of good homes. Caring shelter workers who have devoted their lives to helping animals have no humane choice but to perform this heartbreaking task because so many people don’t bother to have their cats and dogs desexed and continue to buy animals from breeders and pet shops instead of adopting from shelters.
With all the puppies and kittens sitting in pet store windows, breeders advertising animals in local papers and on websites and backyard breeders producing litter after litter, many people don’t even realise that a staggering 400,000 animals in need of homes end up in shelters and council pounds every year. The unending flood of homeless animals leaves open-admission shelters with no option but to euthanise animals in order to be able to continue accepting new cats and dogs who are surrendered by their guardians or picked up from the streets.
Australia’s animal overpopulation and homelessness crisis is huge, but the solution is simple: prevention. Mandatory desexing laws and breeding bans can stop countless animals from being born, only to end up on the streets or in shelters. And each of us can help end animal overpopulation, homelessness and euthanasia by taking the following simple steps:
- Desex today – don’t delay. Puppies and kittens can become parents themselves as young as 4 months of age. Having animals desexed as soon as possible is crucial to prevent unwanted kittens and puppies from being born. Low-cost desexing services make it easy for everyone to be responsible and have their animals sterilised. We can become a nation in which no animals are euthanised for lack of homes, and the way to do that is to become a “no-birth nation” – by spaying and neutering.
- Love your animals for life. Adding a cat or dog to the family means making a commitment to love and care for him or her, for better or for worse, for the rest of the animal’s life. Before deciding to adopt an animal from your local shelter, make sure that you have the time, space, financial means and stability to give him or her a loving “forever home”.
- Boycott breeders and pet shops. Every time someone buys an animal from a breeder or pet shop, an equally deserving dog or cat waiting in a shelter loses his or her chance at a home and will be killed. Pet shops obtain the animals they sell from puppy farms that keep dozens of dogs in kennels without exercise or companionship. They treat female dogs like breeding machines, forcing them to give birth over and over again until they can no longer produce puppies. Puppies who aren’t sold within a few days often end up in shelters, and more and more “cute” puppies are continuously bred to take their place.
- Identify your animals. Properly identifying your animal companions with clearly labelled identification tags and by having them micro-chipped protects them and gives you peace of mind, knowing that if they ever go missing, you will have a better chance of a happy reunion.
Posted by Claire Miller