Sunday, April 3, 2011

☆ What's Going On: Pets; making Responsible Choices! ☆

We all woo and aww over cute puppies and kittens and pets, so much in fact that some of us don't always make the best choices. People impulsively buy from pet stores without thinking about whether or not they are ready for a pet in their home. Others think we love our little furbabies so much that we won't get them neutered or spayed because it seems cruel and, especially with guys,  there is a demasculating complex. But in the big picture it is both necessary and important.

Just a note, I prefer to use any other tern other than "pet owner" I believe this wording contributes to a bad mentality. I don't believe we really "own" pets, they are companions, children, members of the family. They are not possessions. K, on with the blog...

As pet guardians we have a responsibility to prevent unwanted animals from being euthanized. Every single day unwanted pets are left abandonned or left to animal shelters because they become unwanted. It is estimated that 6-8 MILLION animals enter animal shelters each year in the United States alone, roughly 3-4 million (half!!) of those will be euthanized because they will be unable to find a new home. Why? Because there is a huge over-population problem due to people not neutering or spaying their pets and due to people supporting puppy and kitty mills and breeders.  

Because of these numbers, no form of breeding can be concidered as responsible. 

Having a pet entails a certain responsibilty to prevent such circumstances:

★ Choosing a rescue pet from a shelter instead of breeders and stores.
 Getting your pet spayed or neutered. 

There should be no exceptions. 

Adopt a Rescue Pet:
So many animals are in shelters because adoption rates are low. Every time someone buys a pet from a pet store or from breeders, the life of an animal at a shelter is lost.

Most pet stores get their animals from puppy mills or kitty mills where the animals have a lack of proper veterinary care and socialization, and are forced into unsanitary crammed living conditions. They end up with various health issues and can develop intense behavioral problems as a result. An estimated 6-8 millions puppies are killed each month at puppy mills because of food or behavioral problems.

The puppies and kittens are taken away from their mothers at too early an age to be transported in crates to various pet stores where they will spend their time in small spaces without human love or exercise, and where the public is free to tap on their glass windows and harrass them on a daily basis. And even if a pet store claims that they don't purchase their animals from puppy mills, nothing is to say that their supplier doesn't or that the breeder they are purchasing from has healthy ethics or does not inbreed.

At puppy mills, the animals are bred for quantity not quality where genetic defects are common and inbreeding occurs. People will often end up having to pay ridiculous veterinary bills due to the numerous health problems associated with pet-store animals. This is why many pet stores will give you a certain amount of money towards veterinary care when you purchase the animal. 

Many people make the exception because they want a "purebred" dog or cat, but the problem with this is, not only are you leaving an animal to die at a shelter, but there are also other problems associated with so-called "purebred" animals. The vast majority of purebred dogs and cats face inbreeding and therefor result in severe health problems as a result.  Whether the purebred animal is from a local breeder or a petstore, the standards are low for breeding and condition requirements and most are unmonitored at that.  An estimated 25% of dogs that end up in shelters are pure-breeds. And even if you are sure that the breeder is a good one, choosing that animal still leaves another to die in a shelter. 

Pet stores are also the biggest place for that impulsive buy because people are either sucked in by cuteness or think that they are doing the animal a favour by removing them from their small space and giving them a loving home. People often have not thought through the responsibilies of having a pet in their homes or the long-term commitment and are among the highest to end up giving their pet away, usually ending up in a shelter or abandonned on the streets. Buying from a pet store is also showing your support for them and means that they will stay in existence, breeding and contributing to the over-population problem. Remember, your dollars are your voice. Don't get your pet from a pet store. Without these stores, the incentive for puppy mills disappears as well. If you want to end the suffering of these animals at the hands of breeders and puppy mills then don't buy from a pet store. 

We'd also like to think that all shelters are humane and run by loving caring people, but this is not always the case. Euthanization is often humane, done by a needle in a dog's arm or a cat's stomach, but this is not always the case either. Though humane, it is an expensive method and when shelters can't afford to euthanize they turn to gas-chambers instead where it can take up to twenty minutes for the animal to die, crammed in a chamber together for the last frightened moments of their life to suffer. 

The best thing you can do is to prevent this population problem so that animals don't end up in shelters to begin with. 

Spaying or Neutering your Pet:
Spaying and neutering is the surgical sterilization of an animal so that they no longer can reproduce. 
The spaying or neutering of your pet can be the single most important thing you can do to save these animals from suffering and neglect and the over-population problem. 

A single unaltered female dog and her offspring can produce 67, 000 puppies in just six years. A single female cat and her offspring can produce 420, 000 kittens in just seven years!

You may think there's no harm when your pet has a litter and you are able to find homes for them all, but that is too far from the truth. Each of those pets takes a potential home away from a shelter animal waiting behind bars. You are taking away their chance to live. And you also can never be certain that the home you have given that litter to will be permanent or if they will end up being part of that large percentage of pets that end up in a shelter or abandonned on the streets. You also don't know that they won't neuter or spay the animal and then also go on to contribute to more and more unneeded offspring. 

Benefits of Sterilizing your Pet:
On a health stand-point, sterilized animals also live longer, happier lives. Spaying eliminates the stress that females endure during heat periods, eliminates the risk of uterine cancer, and greatly reduces the risk of mammary cancer. Neutering reduces the likelihood of males roaming and fighting, prevents testicular cancer, and reduces the risk of prostate cancer. Sterilized animals are also less likely to contract deadly and contagious diseases. 
Some people justify their decision to not get their pet sterilized because they are an indoor pet. But who's to say that the animal won't accidentally get out one day? Also, not sterilizing your pet and then keeping them away from the opposite sex is essentially mean. Pets have destructive and restless behaviours sometimes because they are trying to get out to seek out a mate. Getting your pet spayed or neutered, especially in males, eliminates sexual frustration, discomfort, and distress, making them happier and more content. It also eliminates their need to get out and roam, so your pet is less likely to run away. 
And if you are worried about your pet's personality changing then I am happy to tell you that you have nothing to worry about. The only changes that may occur are in the habits that you don't want your pet to have in the first place, such as urine-marking, fighting, roaming, and aggression. They are also more likely to be more affectionate and pay more attention to you because they will be less interested in finding a mate. 

There is no excuse for letting your pet reproduce. It is unnecessary and it is selfish. If you truly love animals then you will get your pet spayed or neutered. Period. 

So make the right Choice! 
Most people say they don't want to visit animal shelters because they are too depressing. It doesn't make them not exist. It doesn't take away the fact that those animals suffer. It doesn't take away the fact that half of those animals will be euthanized because you won't give them a home. Give them a chance. Get your new companion from a shelter, and get them spayed or neutered.

Before you get a pet also consider whether you are ready for it, whether you can afford it, whether you are able to keep that pet for the next 7-14 years of your life, whether you are ready to commit to it. Treat them like a member of your family, don't just give them away, make it work. Love them. Treat them with love and respect. Always. 

As long as people treat animals as toys, possessions, or commodities rather than as individuals with feelings, families, and friendships, widespread neglect and abuse is inevitable. 

Be a Responsible Pet-Carer. Make the right choices!

Peace & Love,

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1 comment:

  1. Your post is very helpful, thank you. It is funny how we may not understand dogs sometimes. We provide them a safe, warm place, large meals, a company and care, yet, if given the chance, they may wander who-knows-where and make us chase and look for them. See more here


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