She was just a couple of days old; alone, totally unaware of her need for a family, physically craving her mother’s warm milk and body, unknowingly waiting & longing for someone to rescue her- that is, waiting for someone to adopt her. Was this another dog? Or kitten? Or was this homeless girl a child? Actually, this was me. Like millions of children and pets in this country alone, faced with a similar situation, I too needed to be adopted by a loving family. I think that is why I became involved with the sad situation for our beloved pets.
I was adopted when I was 3 days old- luckily into a most loving, supportive home. I know not every child is as fortunate as myself. Many children never get adopted and many others are adopted into dysfunctional homes where some form of abuse is present. I have always felt deep gratitude for being adopted into such a good home and wondered what might have become of me if I hadn’t been adopted. But I never had to worry about facing what these unadopted animals face- being put to death for lack of having a home. In this, the 21st Century, it is time to tackle this problem by the balls (excuse the pun) and stop this greedy, selfish, exploitative behavior practiced on our pets.
Dogs may be called our best friend but we, the human race, are definitely not theirs. For many of us, cats & dogs are our best friends, family members or even surrogate children. We love them, care for them, worry about them, cuddle with them, play with them and grieve heavily when we eventually lose them. But that is not the case for most dogs and cats. Like so many other animals, they have become big business, easy money, and are considered disposable items which has led many to exploit them. For far too many people, these same dogs and cats are just their properties, their meal tickets, their meals, their punching bags, their bodyguards, their gambles, their “miracles of life that the kids just have to see”, their expensive burden, their “stupid bitches”, their studs, their alter-egos, their shark bait, their target practice, their research tool, their fur products, their victims of sexual perversions, their… Add all these reasons- such as allergies, not matching the furniture, too old, too senile, too big, too expensive, unfriendly landlords, new baby, want a puppy instead, moving, deceased family member’s pet, didn’t use the litter box, home foreclosures and so many other, mostly ridiculous, reasons, our country’s shelters have become killing floors. The statistics are staggering and criminal. Every year, 6-8 million dogs & cats enter our shelters. Sadly, some 4-6 million of these pets are systematically killed. Not because they are sick or vicious but because they are not adopted. In the shelters, a pet is killed every 1.5 seconds as 70,000 puppies & kittens are born daily. Approximately 83,000 pitbulls are killed every single month.
(I have posted some horrific photos of some of the ways in which pets are used because I do believe that a picture is worth a thousand words. They are very upsetting so you must click here in order to view). In my opinion, this is a moral disgrace. It is also a financial burden for all of us. So even if you don’t have a dog or cat, you are paying for the myriad of people who are using them and often benefiting financially from them. In other words, even if you are a responsible pet owner/guardian or never have pets, you are paying for the irresponsibility of some people and the lack of regulations, laws and, mainly, a lack of compassion. Don’t get me wrong; we must have city & county shelters to help these innocent beings when necessary but we must do whatever is needed to stop this overpopulation and let shelters be what they were created to be- a safe haven for animals in unfortunate circumstances, not a killing center for them.
Unfortunately, there are many animal businesses that also contribute greatly to this pet overpopulation. There are, of course, the licensed pet breeders, the puppy & kitten mills, the Animal Kennel Club, the illegal dog fighting industry, the vivisectors, the hunters, the ranchers, the agribusiness, the National Rifle Association and the animal abusement parks (zoos, circuses, SeaWorlds & aquariums) who all stand together against any legislative bill that would benefit animals because any such law is a “slippery slope” to their own selfish interests being jeopardized. In fact, the AKC continues to promote breeding so they can get more dogs registered with their organization and raise more money! These groups all claim that there is no pet overpopulation and that the problem is with the shelters and their workers and with the backyard breeders. They accept no responsibility for any of this!
Now I admit, sadly, that I once was a part of the problem- as many of us were. My mother had been bitten as a child and had to go through the series of painful rabies shots and was left with a deep fear of dogs. I begged her for a dog and she and my father bought me toy poodles, whom I loved deeply. Even as a young adult, I bought dogs- first an Afghan and then a Bedlington terrier. Surprisingly, I became a vegetarian many years before I switched to adopting my pets. In fact, I would have to credit my poodles for leading me to become a vegetarian. I learned, through my relationships with them, that animals have thoughts, feelings, and their own interests. Yet, they live and die completely at our whim. With this realization, it became clear that farm animals must also have thoughts and feelings and their own interests and are also capable of joy and suffering and feeling pain, much like my GiGi and Pierre did. So, with this realization, I made the lifelong decision to not eat animals. Yet even after this personal transformation, I had no idea that buying pets was part of the problem to pet overpopulation and that I was an accomplice to their murders. In fact, my first adoption was a cat I found on the streets of New York City several months after my Bedlington terrier died suddenly from parvovirus and I was in deep grief and loneliness. But since learning the terrible truth, I have become a strong advocate for them. I don’t just care about “my” pets or “my” breed; I care about each and every one of them, as do all the rescuers I know.
In California alone, we spend $250 million dollars a year to house, feed, adopt out and kill these animals. We kill over 500,000- yes half a million- of the dogs and cats in our state of California alone. For three years now, we have tried to pass a spay/neuter law in California but with strong opposition from all of the animals abusers mentioned earlier as well as the Republicans who claim we shouldn’t tell people what to do with their own property. As a friend so succinctly asked- “Why is it that we taxpayers are paying to house and kill their private property?” Opponents also claim that we are working towards a “no dog” policy. Please go to one of their websites-www.BewareAnimalRights.com to read the ridiculous lies and gross exaggerations they make.
Happily, just this month, California began issuing a specialized spay/neuter license plates that you can order at www.Caspayplate.com. This program will greatly help to reduce this pet overpopulation in our state because all the monies raised from these license plates will go to low cost spay and neutering services and the shelters throughout the state. So I beg you all to buy the colorful plates, with great artwork by the talented actor Pierce Brosnan, and become a part of the solution.
I don’t want a world without pets; I want this senseless killing and greedy, unregulated breeding to stop! I absolutely adore dogs and cats and cannot imagine living without them. But I can envision a world without too many pets who have to be killed for lack of homes. I have worked for many years to save these innocent beings and I will continue to work towards that dream- where every dog and cat are adopted into a loving home- just like I was! At the very least, we must be sure that not having a home no longer means not having a life- no matter who you are!
- A Letter from a Shelter Manager – anonymous in North Carolina
- You can’t keep your pet? Really?
- Addressing Los Angeles City Council re. ban on selling pets in pet stores
- Rescue operation uses humane solution to stray dog problem in northern Quebec community
- A Half Century of Suffering Ends