Pet Overpopulation Information

Author: The Humane Society of the United States

Why Spay and Neuter?

As a nation, we claim to love cats and dogs. Millions of households have pets and billions of dollars are spent yearly on pet supplies and food. But as a nation, we should take a hard look at a different annual statistic: the millions of dogs and cats given up to shelters or left to die on the streets. And the numbers tell only half the story.

Every cat or dog who dies as a result of pet overpopulation-whether humanely in a shelter or by injury, disease, or neglect-is an animal who, more often than not, would have made a wonderful companion, if given the chance. Tremendous as the problem of pet overpopulation is, it can be solved if each of us takes just one small step, starting with not allowing our animals to breed. Here’s info about this crisis and why spaying and neutering is the first step to a solution.

The Crisis of Pet Overpopulation
Every day in the United States thousands upon thousands of puppies and kittens are born because of the uncontrolled breeding of pets. Add to that number the offspring of stray and abandoned companion animals, and the total becomes even more staggering. Every year, between six and eight million dogs and cats enter U.S. shelters: some three to four million of these animals are euthanized because there are not enough homes for them.

Too many companion animals competing for too few good homes is the most obvious consequence of uncontrolled breeding. However, there are other equally tragic problems that result from pet overpopulation: the transformation of some animal shelters into “warehouses,” the acceptance of cruelty to animals as a way of life in our society, and the stress that caring shelter workers suffer when they are forced to euthanize one animal after another. Living creatures have become throwaway items to be cuddled when cute and abandoned when inconvenient. Such disregard for animal life pervades and erodes our culture.

The public health epidemic of dog bites-which number more than 4.5 million each year-is due in part to uncontrolled breeding of pets. Bites by so-called dangerous dogs have drawn an enormous amount of media attention, and fatalities caused by dangerous dogs are a serious concern. Often, the vicious tendencies found in some dog breeds can be attributed to irresponsible breeding without regard for temperament. Neutering can help reduce this aggressive behavior.

Number of cats and dogs entering shelters each year:
6-8 million

Number of cats and dogs euthanized by shelters each year:
3-4 million

Number of cats and dogs adopted from shelters each year:
3-4 million

Number of cats and dogs reclaimed by owners from shelters each year:
Between 600,000 and 750,000-30% of dogs and 2-5% of cats entering shelters

Number of animal shelters in the United States:
Between 4,000 and 6,000

Percentage of dogs and cats in shelters who are purebred:

Average number of litters a fertile cat can produce in one year:
3 litters

Average number of kittens in a feline litter:
4-6 kittens
In seven years, one female cat and her offspring can theoretically produce 420,000 cats. (approximately 60,000 cats in one year)

Average number of litters a fertile dog can produce in one year:
2 litters

Average number of puppies in a canine litter:
6-10 puppies
In six years, one female dog and her offspring can theoretically produce 67,000 dogs. (approximately 11,000 dogs in one year)

Solving the Pet Overpopulation Problem
The solution can be simply stated. Its implementation, however, requires sweeping efforts from a variety of people, including you.

The solution is this: Only by implementing widespread sterilization programs, only by spaying and neutering all companion animals, will we get a handle on pet overpopulation. Consider the fact that in six short years, one female dog and her offspring can give birth to 67,000 puppies. In seven years, one cat and her young can produce 420,000 kittens.

Pet owners can do their part by having their companion animals spayed or neutered.
This is the single most important step you can take. Have your pet sterilized so that he or she does not contribute to the pet overpopulation problem, and adopt your next pet from an animal shelter.

Why You Should Spay or Neuter Your Pet

1. Spaying or Neutering is Good for Your Pet2. Spaying or Neutering is Good for You3. Fix That Bunny!Spay or neuter surgery carries a one-time cost that is relatively small when one considers its benefits. It’s a small price to pay for the health of your pet and the prevention of more unwanted animals!
Since our founding in 2006, we have seen great progress in the companion animal welfare world. Needless killing in shelters continues to decline. Organizations across the country are moving toward a no-kill measure. The agreed upon no-kill measure has been defined as a 90% live release rate. Our view is that 90% isn't enough. We are determined to see the day when the remaining 10% receive continued care and love too.

Innovative solutions are produced when killing is removed from the equation.
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