Pet overpopulation is a major issue that the rescue community has faced for decades. The truth is, there are just too many companion animals out there for the number of available homes. Approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter shelters each year, and of those, only about half (3.2 million) get adopted (ASPCA).
Many of these animals sit in shelters for years upon years, and others are euthanized. The unfortunate truth is that so many shelters take in animals until they’re completely filled to capacity and rescues exhaust their resources trying to save as many as they’re able to. But still, 1.5 million shelter animals end up euthanized every year. And, that’s only considering the companion animals that are in our shelters. There are still so many stray animals living on the streets.
Why does pet overpopulation happen?
1. Failure to Spay/Neuter
One of the main reasons companion animal population numbers are so high is that many do not get spayed/neutered. This applies to both animals living in loving homes and strays living on the streets. Companion animals that live in a human home and are not spayed/neutered can easily wind up with a litter – all it takes is for them to be outside and come across another unsterilized animal.
Similarly, strays without access to the proper veterinary care often reproduce and end up with a litter that has no real place to call home. These new litters then need to find loving homes, or they can wind up at a shelter and the cycle perpetuates.
Some communities offer Trap/Neuter/Release (TNR) programs for strays cats. These services allow residents to bring in community cats, have them spayed/neutered for a low cost and then release them back out into the community. You can find a directory of TNR programs on the HSUS website.
2. Buying vs. Adopting Animals from Shelters
Adopting your next companion animal from a shelter or rescue group can help alleviate the issue, and actually save two lives – the animal you adopt, and the animal that is able to take its place at the rescue/shelter. With all of those animals in shelters waiting for loving homes, it’s hard to think that anyone would opt to buy their pets from other sources, but unfortunately many people still don’t adopt.
3. Lost & Surrendered Animals
Additionally, already overcrowded and overwhelmed shelters wind up taking in pets that have gotten lost, or have been willingly surrendered. Pets that become lost and don’t have the proper identification (such as a collar and tags, or a microchip) run the risk of never making it back to their owners.
When thinking about the numbers, pet overpopulation can seem like a very overwhelming issue. But, Rescue Me Ohio wants to help, starting in Ohio. That’s why we’re running our #Give99 campaign. We’re asking our followers to donate just 99 cents each, with the goal of hosting low cost spay/neuter clinics for Ohio residents.
Learn more about #Give99, and help us end pet overpopulation in Ohio, by visiting rescuemeohio.org and donating today.