Each year in the United States, nearly two million healthy, adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized at shelters. Some are former pets whose owners have died, some were abandoned by their owners, some are just strays that no one has claimed, some were confiscated by the authorities from circumstances of abuse or neglect, and a large number are members of feral cat colonies which have been raided after citizen complaints. While cats in these colonies are extremely fearful of people and avoid human contact whenever possible, they depend on foraging in order to feed themselves and their young, and come into proximity with people while raiding dumpsters behind businesses, and are thus seen by some as a “nuisance”; if they feel cornered or threatened, feral cats exhibit aggressive behavior toward people. Aggression in unneutered male feral cats is common. Kittens born to the unspayed female members account for about 80% of all kittens born in this country. T/N/R (Trap/ Neuter/Release) programs are a tremendous resource in the management and control of feral cat communities. Neutering the males results in a marked decrease in aggressive behavior; it also makes it impossible for them to father more kittens. Spaying the feral females results in zero future growth of that colony.
Unwanted and homeless cats and dogs can be rescued from miserable lives on the streets, where they endure hunger, thirst, pain, fear, illnesses, aggression from other animals and sometimes, sadly, abuse by humans. They can also be rescued from shelters. Even at a low-kill or no-kill shelter, they live their lives confined to cages most of the time, and without any close human contact. This is a sad life that these poor animals certainly don’t deserve. If fate brings them to a kill shelter, they will have to endure the same lonely life, but it will be cut short when their time is up and they are euthanized to make room for the never-ending supply of abandoned pets. Older dogs and cats, especially those of mixed-breeds, or those who are not perceived as “cute” or animals so traumatized by their situation that they hold back out of fear and shyness, and are thus perceived as “not friendly”, are doomed almost from the moment they enter the shelter. The heartbreak comes in when you think of the healthy, wonderful and totally adoptable dogs and cats who want nothing more than a home and are eager for human to love, but have to have their lives ended too early because of the plague of over-population caused mostly by failure to have a pet spayed or neutered at an early age, and to a smaller degree by the proliferation of dog and cat breeders. The shameful truth is that about 670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats are put to death in the U.S. each year because of the ignorance and neglect of humans.
This makes individual pet rescuers and rescue charity organizations vital in helping to save a portion of these needy dogs and cats and helping to place them in homes where they can live out their lives in the peace and comfort that all living beings deserve.
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