The statistics surrounding homeless animals aren’t new to many of us. The issue of shelter overpopulation and the importance of adopting vs. buying is more widely talked about now than ever before. Still, while the statistics vary slightly, each year approximately 5 million stray and unwanted animals are taken in by impound facilities and shelters across the country each year. Sadly, about 3.5 million of these animals must be euthanized because good homes cannot be found for them. In fact, shelter euthanasia is the leading cause of death for both dogs and cats in the United States. Most people think there just are not enough homes for all the shelter animals but the reality is, not enough people are making the choice to adopt from a shelter or from a rescue group. Approximately 17 million Americans get a new pet each year, more than double the number of shelter animals but sadly only about 25% choose to adopt their new pet. The rest choose to buy their pets from a pet store or other free sources like internet ads or friends. And surprisingly, despite the increased awareness of these statistics about 35% of pet owners in the U.S. still choose not to spay or neuter their pets. Many choose to intentionally breed them either for profit or for a fun experience, others believe their pet won’t “accidentally” mate. Whatever the reason, pet overpopulation is a critical issue and our animal friends are paying the price for it.
Want to hear some good news? The awareness and education about adopting and spaying & neutering is making a difference. Over the last 40 years, the number of dogs and cats being euthanized in shelters has decreased from approximately 20 million to 3.5 million. None of us will be happy until there is no need for animal shelters, rescue groups and impound facilities but until then, we are thankful for the network of shelters and rescue organizations that work hard every day to save and find homes for as many animals as possible. One such rescue group is Second Chance Animal Rescue located in Minnesota.
Second Chance is a non-profit rescue organization that has a foster network giving safe and loving homes to animals until they find their forever homes. They pull dogs and cats from impound facilities when their holding time is up, they receive animals seized from puppy/kitten mills, they take in dogs and cats that have been abandoned and they help families who are unable to continue caring for their animals due to hardship. To date, they’ve saved 8,900 dogs and cats and the number of animals they foster at any given time varies between 70-90 depending on the number of active fosters they have. Rescue organizations like Second Chance are critical to making a big impact on reducing the number of animals killed in impound facilities that usually do not adopt out to the general public. The more animals that organizations like Second Chance can adopt out, the more animals they can continue to rescue. The more foster homes they have in their network, the more animals they can save.
All of this can seem overwhelming but there are ways that each of us can help and make a difference.
* Consider becoming a foster for Second Chance Animal Rescue or another reputable non-profit rescue group in your area. The more foster homes there are, the more animals that can be pulled from impound facilities or other situations.
* Always adopt. Check rescue groups like Second Chance in your city and check your local shelters. Remember when you adopt, you save two lives, the one you rescue and the one you just made room for. You can see Second Chance’s animals waiting for their forever home HERE
* Always spay or neuter your pet. With 5 million homeless animals languishing in shelters every year, let’s make sure they find their way into a loving home before we bring more dogs and cats into the world.
* Donate. These rescue organizations and many reputable shelters are non-profit groups that exist solely on donations and small adoption fees. Their costs are higher than you think. For example, the veterinarian expenses alone for Second Chance run approximately $90,000-$100,000 per year. Every donation helps, even the smallest of donations are greatly appreciated by these groups.
* Make sure you’re prepared for a long term commitment when you decide to add a pet to your family. Too many animals in shelters and rescue groups come from owner surrenders.
* Take any opportunity to educate others about the importance of adoption and spaying and neutering.
Are you interested in learning more about dog and cat breeder regulation legislation? Learn more about the bill here in Minnesota or about any bills in your area by simply doing an internet search for Breeder Bill Legislation or Puppy Mill Legislation.