We’ve all seen them. In fact it seems like they flash across our TV screens all too often. It’s hard to ignore those heartbreaking images of abused and neglected dogs, cats, puppies and kittens.
We’ve all heard the pleas from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and similar animal rescue groups. Make a donation. Sponsor a pet. Adopt don’t buy. Do the right thing.
But recently the ASPCA shared some good news on TODAY. People across the country are actually heeding the call. They’re doing the right thing.
More new homes, fewer deaths for shelter animals
New ASPCA data reveals that the number of dogs and cats that end up in U.S. shelters has dropped significantly in the past six years. Specifically, the animal welfare organization says the number of dogs and cats American shelters is approximately 6.5 million (3.3 million dogs and 3.2 million cats). Back in 2011, the total number of dogs and cats in American shelters was roughly 7.2 million.
The good news doesn’t end there, however.
More people are adopting pets from shelters now than they did six years ago. The ASPCA estimates that 3.2 million dogs and cats are now adopted from shelters each year, as opposed to 2.7 million in 2011.
Better yet, fewer shelter are animals are being euthanized. The ASPCA’s data analysis back in 2011 revealed that 2.7 million unclaimed shelter animals were killed each year. Today the annual death toll stands at roughly 1.5 million.
Finally, the ASPCA says, more “lost” pets that end up in shelters are reunited with their rightful owners today than in the past (approximately 710,000 per year now as compared to 649,000 in 2011).
Awareness plus action equals success
The ASPCA attributes the success to:
- A significant change in the way Americans view companion animals
- Changes in adoption procedures
- Changes in certain laws
- Changes in technology
- Greater availability of affordable spay/neuter clinics
- More assistance for people who struggle to care for their pets
Pet ownership is a responsibility, not a right
Clearly the reduction in the number of euthanized shelter animals is a huge step in the right direction. But there is still a long way to go until we get to the point where there are no needless deaths.
Finding a humane way to curb the feral animal population in the United States is also an ongoing concern.
In order to address both issues, people must realize that pet ownership is a responsibility. It is not a right. No one is entitled to have a dog, cat, puppy or kitten. In fact, there are some people who should never have dogs, cats, puppies, kittens, or any other pets, for that matter.
Companion animals rely on people for food, shelter, medical care, and most importantly, love. Providing all of that is a tremendous responsibility. But it’s worth it.