Howdy-ho kids. I hope all is well and that the transition into Fall isn't taking too much of a toll. Our thoughts go out to the Pacific Northwest as they deal with the lack of sunshine for the next few seasons. October, though almost over, is National Adoption Month, and we thought it would be nice to bring the topic into the collective consciousness in one of the ways we are able to.
In the perfect fairy tale world of the 1950s, every pet dog or cat came to their home either in a picnic basket left on your doorstep or from a spunky eight year old selling them for a quarter out of a cardboard box. We're not in the fifties any more.
Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that a ton of the animals sold at pet stores, both big and small, come from pretty reprehensible sources. Believe me, I used to be stoked every time we would go to the mall, (R.I.P. every mall), not only because of Hot Dog on a Stick, but because the trip would usually start and end with a visit to the puppies at the pet store. There's nothing wrong with thinking baby animals are adorable, you might be a sociopath if you don't think they are, but we've come so far as a society since the days of those puppy-mill dogs behind the glass down the hall from Cinnabon.
There are way too many animals and unfortunately not enough resources to maintain them. Here in Orange County, we have the largest animal shelter/adoption agency west of the Mississippi, OC Animal Care. This behemoth has 872 cages--382 for dogs, 435 for cats, 25 for bunnies, and 30 for larger friends like pigs, goats, or horses. The shelter services 22 cities, for a total of three million people in 850,000 households. Huh, now 872 cages doesn't seem as impressive. I'm sure you know where this is going.
To meet, or simply try to keep up with the growing need to house and take care of the huge amount of stray, lost, or abandoned animals, OCAC unfortunately has to euthanize a large percentage of the animals that come through their doors. In 2006, there were 4,341 dogs and 9,711 cats that had to be put down at OCAC. Obviously some of these were necessary, whether the animal was going through irreversible suffering or something else, but the majority of these euthanizations were for solely for the reason of overpopulation . To continue being a bummer, the next year 13,000 dogs were put down. That's just a touch under triple the number in one year. I know it's hard to fully visualize those numbers, but imagine if you hated wheat bread but you had to eat a loaf of it every week. Pretty awful, but not nearly as awful as three loaves per week.
There's a vicious cycle at play here. A dog escapes her yard or is dumped somewhere, (people who do this are actual garbage--slimey, mold spore, banana peel people), gets pregnant and has her litter two months later. Wikipedia tells me that an average litter size is five or six, but let's low ball it and say five. If half of the dogs get picked up by animal control or find a new home, but the other half stay stray, (bad band name), the cycle repeats and the number of dogs without homes, (good band name?), goes up exponentially. Here's a neat trick though, there's a revolutionary new process that makes your pets not be able to reproduce and it's actually been around forever and it's pretty cheap and safe and everyone should do it because it's the right thing to do and please just go spay and neuter your pets.
Remember all those dogs and cats from two paragraphs ago that had to be put down in 2006? In total it came out to 14,052 animals. It costs $159 to put down one animal, so in 2006 alone it cost $2,234,268 just to euthanize, that's not even touching the costs of housing, food, overhead, and everything else that needs to be paid for. In a place like Orange County where people have a conniption if they find out their taxes went to an unnecessary stop sign, you would think that $2.2 million being dumped into a problem like this would be talked about a little more.
Sorry for throwing the unfortunate news at you in such a clump, but there are the cold facts. We do this to then turn it to implore you to spread the word about this serious issue. There are too many animals that have to die or wallow in neglect and adversity. One of the best things you can do is adopt one of these pups or kits from a local shelter. You're saving a life and opening a spot for the next one to come in and get the opportunity to find a new home, and here's another tip, adoption is most often incredibly cheap compared to buying a pet from a store or especially a breeder. The only animal I want to spend $1000 dollars on is the beast inside me that desperately wants a trampoline.
Stay spooky everyone.