The internet depicts images filled with dogs and cats happily chasing toys, running with a ball, and playing with children in the midst of their happy families. Yes, some 250 million of them, one just about for every person reinforcing the ancient human-animal bond of love, friendship, companionship, hope, and joy.
Sadly, this is not the true story and outcome for many of these animals who end up tethered to a rope or chain to an outside doghouse, in an outdoor kennel 24/7, in a shelter, or; euthanized. There are 920,000 dogs and cats in America that are euthanized every year. I don't believe that this result was ever the intention of any dog or cat owner that once welcomed these animals into their hearts and home, stating they are part of their family.
However, in actuality, they are not family, as here in NC, as in many other states, they are deemed property, which you can dispose of. In addition, they mostly lack legal rights and few enforceable laws to protect them. So now, if your dog or cat becomes too much of a problem, they can be surrendered to a veterinarian to be euthanized. Recently, our organization was contacted by a veterinarian with this exact situation, but this dog was fortunate in that a couple saw his plight and wanted to adopt him.
An Industry Was Born
I believe an industry is making profits that bring more problems to our animals than helping. Toys that we try to comfort our animals during the stress of being alone can become later found blocking the intestines. Clothing, bedding, treats, entire large stores entirely devoted to providing these items for us to purchase….this has become an enormous business. Rawhides that offer no nutritional benefit and possibly detrimental effects as they can be lodged within the bodies of our unsupervised animals. The biggest offender is the pet food that we fed them. I submitted an article regarding the problem of providing overly processed foods to this paper in the past and the consequences it brings to the health of our pets. But this is a problematic aspect to convince people of because we are a nation of people who love to eat processed foods.
So where are all these unwanted companion animals coming from? I believe most are from people making uninformed decisions about personal responsibility, which encompasses understanding the pros and cons of different breeds, their temperament, and if they will be a good fit for their family, including small children and other dogs. Realizing the lifestyle changes that could involve sudden relocation or illness, including being overwhelmed with personal and financial problems. People do not realize the amount of time required to provide the necessary exercise, food, and the proper health care which can be expensive.
We can't predict the future, but reviewing the different scenarios that could occur in your life and not making an impulse decision could prevent a lot of future heartbreak.
Our organization was involved in many cases in which older people get a sizeable energetic puppy that becomes unmanageable, or someone gives a pet as a gift to someone that doesn't want that commitment or the most frequent idea of getting a pet for the kids.
Is Your Pet Bored?
Scientists have set up cameras to see what pets do all day when left alone. There seems to be a lot of whining, barking, yawning, sleeping, and howling, which are signs of anxiety and frustration. There is also restlessness, risk-taking, and looking for a chance to escape. So it's unacceptable to work all day and go out to dinner before coming home, leaving your companion animal alone for that extended period of time. It would be best to consider having a fish as your pet; statistically speaking, fish are as popular as dogs for pets. But, then, they're still excited to see you, as they know they are going to be fed.
They noted that many pets adopted during the pandemic are now under increasing stress as their owners have returned to work. When our organization was trying to find a home for an animal, understanding the family dynamics was crucial as we did not want to set the animal up for failure. So, we asked the questions and visited the home as we would have liked the best outcome for everyone involved.
Elimination of Puppy Mills
Low-Cost spay/neuter programs (PawsAbility through OCPAW)
Adopt from your local shelter
Licensing with mandatory spay/neuter requirements with given exceptions to licensed AKC breeders.
Educational programs in schools that relate to animal welfare and care