numbers of snakes, Iguanas, and exotic birds are turned loose into
an environment unable to support them. They die a lonely and
tortured death in a harsh and bewildering environment, or they
thrive beyond their optimal numbers
and displace animals inhabiting
a previously balanced ecosystem. Pet dogs and cats are the most
recognized aspect of a sick system of misplaced, displaced, and
abandoned living creatures that find themselves in an environment
unsuitable for them and are incompatible with their surrounding life forms.
The HSUS estimates that animal
shelters care for 6-8 million dogs and cats every year in the United
States, of whom approximately 3-4 million are euthanized. When
I graduated from veterinary school in June of 1970, the problem of
pet over-population was serious and nationwide. The problem
still exists today and many organizations are diligently promoting
responsible pet ownership and breeding. Progress has been
made! See news from the Humane Society of the United States
Stray or abandoned animals, who
found themselves homeless through no fault of their own, have only
us humans to blame for their plight. So who is responsible for this
tide of excess, unwanted animals? Who’s fault is it that animal
shelters are filled to overflowing with dogs, cats, reptiles, birds
and even small pocket pets such as gerbils and mice? The fate
of many of these unfortunate animals is long term confinement and
So who or what is to blame for
the millions of abandoned and homeless animals that fill the nations
animal shelters and humane societies?
I know who is not
to blame. . . not the veterinarians. . . they are working
spaying/neutering and educating pet owners regarding pet population
Not the animal shelter workers, their goal is to have nothing to do!
They work tirelessly,
often on a volunteer basis, to care for abandoned pets.
Not the legal system, for if
strong laws were enacted to restrict people from breeding their
pets, the populace would surely rise up in protest over their being
unconstitutionally deprived of their personal “rights” and freedom.
Not the professional breeders. .
. they are striving to maintain high quality, genetically
predictable pets and only breed their animals if they know
homes are waiting for the offspring.
Well then, who’s to blame for
all the excess and unwanted pets that are put to death every year
for lack of a home? Could it be the naïve pet owner who, without concern for the
consequences, thinks it would be “nice” to have their dog or cat
“have at least one litter.”
Could it be the adults in the family who believe
their children will be better educated about reproduction if they
witness the "miracle of birth" when their dog or cat delivers a
Could it be the hunter whose dog
is so terrific in the field that the owner wants just one pup to
"keep the line going"?
Could it be the dog or cat owner
who is caught off guard when their family pet develops mammary gland
enlargement and is discovered to be pregnant... again?
Could it be the person who always loved dogs and
yearned to be a breeder, and decided to invest in a high priced,
currently popular breed only to discover no one wanted to buy a pup
and therefore had no alternative other than to "drop them off
at the local shelter"?
Veterinarians are educating pet owners
about spaying/neutering, undaunted by occasional accusations that
they are simply in favor of it for financial rewards.
Anonymous shelter and rescue personnel are endlessly
fighting the battle of pet overpopulation in the obscure trenches of
shelters, foster homes and rescue facilities. Nevertheless,
the numbers of pet owners keep
cranking out more litters for misguided reasons and the cycle
of excess animals continues.
Some of the most common
excuses – reasons – myths why John Q Public decides to breed his
dog are viewed below:
She “has papers” so her puppies
will be real valuable.
If she’s spayed before she has
a litter, she’ll get fat and lazy.
My cousin wants one of her pups.
I want the kids to see the
“miracle of birth”.
The darned vets charge too much
to have a pet spayed/neutered.
She’ll be a better dog if she
She'll mature physically and
psychologically and be more well adjusted if she's allowed to have
just one litter.
Where do people get these
antiquated ideas? Physiologically, socially or emotionally
none of the statements above have any basis in fact. And if
you are not an experienced, trusted breeder you will need some luck
in addition to some hard work getting the
big bucks for that first litter you are expecting
Perhaps in this free society we should rethink our
right to breed our dogs. Perhaps
we owe some thought to the welfare of the yet unborn animals; and we
should consider the burden we place on this free society whose many
members will be taking care of the unfortunate castoffs of that
surplus litter. Many animal shelters are county or state
government supports by tax dollars which means what you or I add by
adding more puppies and kittens to the population makes this issue a
societal issue. Is the next step need
Unfortunately, 4 decades ago I,
too, was part of the problem. I bred my Golden Retriever to
another well bred male, had a litter of 12 nice pups. It took
nearly 5 months for me to find good homes for each one because a few
of the people who intended to take a pup backed out. Looking
back now, I wish I had not bred her. I didn't need the money;
she didn't need to be a mother; the society didn't need 12 more