Inside the Pet Overpopulation Epidemic

Inside the Pet Overpopulation Epidemic

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 and donating today.



6th Annual Thanks For Giving Fundraiser Collects Over 2,000 cans of pet food for Adopt Ohio

Thanks to everyone who came out and donated to the 6th annual Thanks For Giving fundraiser at Pet Valu Clintonville and Pet Valu Short North! The fundraiser collected 2,220 cans of pet food for Adopt Ohio.


During the month of November, Rescue Me Ohio collected donations at both Pet Valu locations. Each $5 donation helped feed a cat or dog for one week. The money collected was used to purchase cans of cat and dog food, which was donated to Adopt Ohio.

Calling Ohio Pups: Let’s Get BarkHappy!

If you’re anything like me, you love having your pets with you at all times.

Anyone who has adopted a dog knows all of the joy and love that they bring into your life. You want them with you as much as possible – whether it’s running errands, going to a friend’s house or taking an afternoon stroll. And, I’m willing to bet your dog loves being out and about with you as well, seeing new things and meeting new dogs and their humans. The founder of BarkHappy, Ninis Samuel, knew this feeling!


He knew how much his dog Kerby enjoyed going places with him and wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to spend more time with their dogs – that’s why he created BarkHappy. 

“It’s all about having real experiences with your dog instead of always leaving them at home,” says Ninis. “Dogs are happiest when they are with you and meeting new friends just like us.  We want you to enjoy life with your dog and connect with the dog friendly world around you.”  

BarkHappy is on a mission to build an active, engaged community of dogs, their owners and a platform for dog-friendly businesses and events through real life experiences. Download the BarkHappy app to:

  • Search for dog-friendly restaurants, stores, hotels, parks and more; and see their pet policies and amenities.
  • See upcoming dog-friendly events and create/host your own group play dates with friends.
  • Connect with other dogs nearby to make new friends – send wags, messages and more!
  • Create lost or found reports and alert other users in that area with your dog’s photo and important information
  • Find special deals just for BarkHappy users on products for your pup.

According to, BarkHappy means “a state of overt enjoyment and happiness that leads to uncontrollable expression through barking. e.g. The dog was having so much fun at the dog park, he was getting BarkHappy.” It’s the feeling your pups will get when they are able to spend more time with you!

In addition to helping dogs be happier and live more active social lives, BarkHappy also actively supports charities across the country. BarkHappy helps its charity partners by hosting dog-friendly events and donating a portion of the proceeds to their partners. Rescue Me Ohio is lucky to be BarkHappy’s charity partner in Cleveland, and we have had several great events this summer!  

Adobe Spark (2)Adobe Spark (1)

Dog parents nationwide can download the app on their Apple iOS (8+) and Android devices!

Please note: BarkHappy is a charity partner of Rescue Me Ohio.

Rescue Me Ohio Brings Community Together to Help Local Man Save His Beloved Dog

Rescue Me Ohio Brings Community Together to Help Local Man Save His Beloved Dog

After hearing about a Columbus-area man’s concern for his dog, who had a massive growth on his underbelly, Rescue Me Ohio raised over $600 to help him get the care he needed to save his dog. Read their story, below.

By Laurie Deerwester – Volunteer for Rescue Me Ohio

Overheard conversations.  Concern for another person.  Concern for an animal.  Caring about your neighbor and the goodness that we often don’t see in people.

I found out about Max third hand. After overhearing his story in a retail establishment, a concerned women shared it with her daughter, who brought me into the loop.  

The woman overheard Steve, the dog’s owner and a Columbus-area resident, talking about how concerned he was for his dog. Max is a 5-year-old, 138-pound Bull Mastiff who had a massive growth on his underbelly. As Steve spoke about Max, the woman could hear in his voice that we was not able to do for his dog what he wished he could (and provide the medical attention he needed). The woman who overheard Steve’s story later shared it with her daughter. The daughter called me once she was able to go to the store and verify the story with Steve.

I have been a volunteer for Rescue Me Ohio (RMO), a statewide education and advocacy organization, for almost four years. One of the most rewarding things about volunteering for Rescue Me Ohio is getting the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of companion animals and their humans.  When I heard Steve’s story, I thought RMO might be able to help him get Max the medical attention he needed and deserved. I didn’t know what I was getting us into!

I shared Max’s story, along with pictures, with our group and proposed a fundraiser to help Steve cover the costs of treatment. Shortly after, Steve updated me that the mass had begun to ooze – he was very concerned about the dog’s health and well-being while he was away at work. I told him that I was trying to figure out a solution.

After a short trip to the pet store, I headed over to Steve’s with the biggest cone they had to accommodate a dog of Max’s size. I took some pictures of Max and the mass dangling from under his ribcage, which was threatening to rupture. I left telling Steve that I would get back to him as soon as I knew more about whether Rescue Me Ohio would be able to assist.

Max with mass

Most in our group were shocked when I sent an update and pictures of the dog’s current condition. RMO’s Board of Directors agreed immediately that we needed to do something to help, and decided to host an online fundraiser to try to cover the expenses of getting Max’s mass removed. Rescue Me Ohio shared Max’s story and fundraising information  on our Facebook page and within our networks. Rescue Me Ohio raised about $625, and covered the remaining cost of Max’s surgery.


Getting the medical attention Max needed
I contacted Dr. Michelle Gonzales (Dr. G) of Rascal Animal Hospital and Rascal Unit to get her opinion of Max’s growth, and whether she would be willing to do the surgery. It turns out that the mass was not a lipoma – a benign tumor composed of fat – which is what Steve had been told previously. Instead, the mass was necrotic (meaning the tissue was dying) and needed to be removed as soon as possible.

Dr. G provided me with an estimate on the cost of the surgery, and agreed to perform it.

I immediately shared the good news with Steve and made arrangements to meet him to transfer Max.  On Sunday June 13th  I brought Max into Rascal Animal Hospital in Dublin; they had him in surgery that evening with Dr. Seiple, a veterinarian at the hospital.  The vet shared a very positive update that evening: Dr. Seiple removed the mass (which weighed 4.5lbs!). They medicated Max and put in a chest tube for drainage; the biopsy of the mass would be sent out for testing, which would take 5 to 7 business days.

The area affected by the surgery was quite extensive. Rascal Animal Hospital had to remove a lot of Max’s skin around the mass, because if it was cancer they would need to remove as much tissue as possible.

The recovery process
Max had some difficulty with the sutures – they didn’t want to heal. Being such a big dog – who is often taking people for walks (instead of vice versa) – it was challenging to keep him calm enough to allow the wound to heal.

Rascal Animal Hospital updated me on Max every day for 13 days. I passed the updates along to Steve so that he knew what was happening at every step of the way. On Saturday June 24th I was told that Max was ready to be released. However, he still had an open area on his chest that remained from removing the chest tube and that needed to be monitored for infection or tearing.

Eager to beat the crowd and get Max back to his dad as quickly as possible, I returned to the hospital early on Sunday morning. Rascal Animal Hospital provided medication and wound care instructions and we were ready to go. Max came bounding out of the back room – he had enough of being caged up and wanted to get home! He was very excited and strong, dragging me across the parking lot to my car. We hopped in and headed home so that he could be reunited with Steve.

Once at Steve’s, I reviewed all of the instructions from the hospital and the importance of keeping Max calm. I left them to get reacquainted, and told Steve to call me or the hospital if there were any problems.

Today, Max is doing well. He was diagnosed with cancer, but it is slow-growing and he is expected to live a long life.

Rescue Me Ohio would like to sincerely thank everyone who donated to Max’s cause!

Max post-surgery
Max was excited to get back home to his dad!

What You Need to Know About Spaying and Neutering Your Pets

What You Need to Know About Spaying and Neutering Your Pets

Spaying or neutering is one of the best things that can be done to benefit the lives of cats and dogs. In addition to helping to curb pet overpopulation, it can help make your pet healthier and help to reduce poor behavior. In an effort to spread the word about the benefits of spaying and neutering, the HSUS, the Humane Society International and the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association runs its annual World Spay Day campaign.

Observed on the last Tuesday of February, World Spay Day brings awareness to the impact of affordable, accessible spay/neuter options to save the lives of companion animals, stray/feral cats, and stray dogs who may otherwise be put down in shelters or killed on the street. This year will be the 23rd annual World Spay Day, and will be observed on February 28, 2017.pexels-photo-133069

In honor of World Spay Day, we’re taking a look at some of the invaluable benefits that spaying and neutering your pets can bring:

Reduce the number of homeless pets killed – There are an estimated 6-8 million homeless animals entering shelters every day. Barely half of those animals get adopted. Unfortunately, more than 2.7 million healthy, adoptable cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters each year.

Improve your pet’s health – Pets who live in the states with the highest rates of spaying/neutering also live the longest, according to this USA today study. Neutered males dogs live 18% longer than un-neutered male dogs, and spayed female dogs live 23% longer than unspayed female dogs. The reduced lifespan for unaltered pets can be attributed, in part, to their increased urge to roam, exposing them to fights with other animals, running out into the roads and other mishaps.animal-cute-kitten-cat.jpg

Also to consider is the reduced risk of certain types of cancers. Unspayed female cats and dogs have a far greater risk of developing pyrometra (fatal uterine infection), uterine cancer and other cancers of the reproductive system. Male pets who are neutered eliminate their chances of developing testicular cancer.

Reduce poor behavior – Unneutered dogs are much more assertive and prone to urine-marking than neutered dogs. Although this behavior is most-commonly associated with male dogs, females can do it too. For cats, the urge to spray is extremely strong in an intact cat. The simplest solution is to have yours neutered or spayed by four months of age, before there’s even a problem.

Neutering solves 90 percent of all marking issues, even in cats that have been doing it for a while. It can also minimize howling, the urge to roam, and fighting with other males. In both cats and dogs, the longer you wait, the greater risk you run of the surgery not doing the trick because the behavior is so ingrained.

Other behaviors that spaying and neutering can alleviate include:

  • Roaming, especially when females are “in heat”
  • Aggression; studies show that most dog bites involve dogs who are unaltered
  • Excessive barking, mounting or other dominance-related behaviors

And despite what many may think, while getting your pets spayed/neutered can help curb undesirable behaviors, it will not change their fundamental personality, like their protective instinct.

Given these reasons, it would seem that it doesn’t make sense to not have your pet spayed or neutered. But still, many pets are left unaltered. One of the most common reasons that people skip out on this critical part of their pet’s health is due to cost. What many may not consider, however, is the costs of caring for litters of puppies or kittens, medical costs for cancers of the reproductive system, and the medical costs associated with fights involving unneutered or unspayed pets. In the long run, having your pet spayed or neutered is more cost-effective.

If you or someone you know is looking for an affordable option to spay or neuter a pet, the Humane Society can help you identify low-cost options in your area.


For more information on World Spay Day, visit

Will You Be My Valentine? 10 Reasons Why Pets Make The Best Valentines

This year, why not skip out on all of the fancy dinners, expensive wine and stress of planning the perfect evening? Here’s a fool-proof plan for the perfect Valentine’s Day: spend some quality time with your pet! Keep reading to learn 10 reasons why pets make the absolute best Valentines.

1. They are pretty cheap dates. Your pet won’t expect to eat at the fanciest restaurant in town, or to be given extravagant Valentine’s Day gifts. All they’re looking for is some of their favorite food and snuggles from you!dog.jpeg

2. They’ll let you pick the movie. As long as you’re snuggling on the couch right next to them, your pet doesn’t care what you guys watch. So, bring on the Rom-Coms!

3. No reservations required. Skip out on the hassle of making reservations, or dealing with overcrowded restaurants. Your pet is happy just hanging out at home with you or taking a stroll through the park!

4. Forget the fancy clothes. You don’t need to buy a new dress or put on the three piece suit to impress your furry friend – they won’t ever judge your outfit choice!

5. Pets are easy to shop for. If you want to surprise your pet with a little something, you won’t have to search high or low for the perfect gift. You know what your pet likes, but they will also love anything that you give them.

6. No need to share your chocolate. Actually, don’t share your chocolate with them! Chocolate poisoning is harmful for both dogs and cats, so you can keep that giant heart-shaped box of chocolates all for yourself.

7. There’s no way that you’ll feel awkward, or suffer through small talk. Unlike a blind date or new crush, your pet is your best friend. You’re totally comfortable together and hanging with them on Valentine’s Day is sure to be a stress free time.

8. They’re good for your health! Studies have shown that pet owners exhibit decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels – all of which can help minimize your risk of having a heart attack down the road. Not to mention the impact your pets can have on your overall mood and happiness.

9. They give the BEST snuggles. Want to curl up on the couch and watch a season of your new TV addiction? There’s no one better to snuggle with than your furry friend.

10. They love you unconditionally. Valentine’s Day is all about celebrating the people (and animals) that you love. Pets will love you unconditionally (as I’m sure you love them), and what a good way to spend your Valentine’s day!


So, put on your favorite pair of sweatpants, turn on a Rom-Com (or thriller, it’s up to you!), snuggle up with your pet and get ready for the best Valentine’s Day yet!



Advice from the Cookie Lady


I hear it all the time, “My dog will do anything for you because you’re the cookie lady.” It’s true and it’s wonderful! I take pride in being a what Kathy Sdao calls “a good feeder.”

Let’s stop the shame game. There is no reason to be embarrassed for treating your dog for good behavior! I recall so many times walking through our local parks with my wonderful Pumpkin, happily heads up heeling by my side—his gorgeous amber eyes looking into mine as we passed a barking lunging dog. The owner of the other dog notice the treats I was delivering and shouted out, “I see your dog has you trained! How many treats does he eat?! That’s bribery” followed by derisive laughter. Well, laugh away I say. If I hadn’t been busy focusing on my gorgeous good dog I would have retorted, “It’s not a lure, it’s reward—big difference.” And I would have been happy to go into details had he been a willing listener. Instead I smiled, nodded and moved on. Now I have time to explain if you’re willing to listen.

Lures can sometimes be used initially to get a behavior started. With a lure, you are using the food (or toy) to manipulate the dog’s behavior. Common are pulling a treat above the head to get a “sit” and bringing a treat from the dog’s nose to yours to get eye contact or a “watch me” cue. Lures precede the behavior. They can get a behavior started but must be faded out quickly or the dog can become dependent on seeing the treat in order to perform the behavior. A reward on the other hand comes after the behavior is performed. Rewards too will be lessened in time, but perhaps never faded out. Before you panic– That wasn’t a typo. Let me explain.
If your employer stopped issuing you a paycheck, how long would you continue to work? Generally speaking, regardless of how much we enjoy our jobs we won’t work for free. Neither do dogs. Gasp! Yes I am saying dogs don’t work simply because they love us. Much of what we ask of dogs is completely unnatural and it is indeed work. Heeling, staying, leaving a treat on her paws and more—very unnatural. We all know how much work it is to modify our own behaviors such as eating healthfully, saving money, or quitting bad habits. Science tells us for humans and animals a reward system increases success in behavior modification programs. Look at your bank or credit card company. Does getting rewards increase your use of the card? Does your employer offer a gift for perfect attendance or safety records? We get tokens, points, and various other rewards for repeating certain behaviors. Dogs get treats and toys. There is no shame in rewarding good behavior! In time, we do put the rewards on a variable schedule so they will not be constant but that’s another topic.

Speaking of rewards, remember it should be something the dog wants. Not what you think is nice. Dry cookies are rarely motivating enough for any dog besides the biggest chow hounds. Having spent decades in human resources, I think of compensation scales. The more complex the work, the higher the pay. I apply the same to dogs. Sit at the door may equal a piece of kibble. Walking past another dog may equal a chunk of fresh chicken. Yes, fresh chicken—from the frig. I often chuckle that the same wonderfully caring clients who labor over reading labels and research the very best food to feed –insisting it have fresh human grade ingredients– are appalled at the thought of using “people food” as treats. Food is food. Fresh, healthy food is a nice reward and addition to your dog’s diet. Be a good feeder. Use food wisely. So often we give dogs table scraps or special treats just because we love them. While there’s nothing wrong with that, simply reserve them for extra special behavior!

A friend I see only seldom comments how her dog will do things for me that she does for no one else even though I may see her only twice a year. And I don’t have to give her treats. But as my friend points out, “she remembers you as the cookie lady.” Yep, she sure does. I have a history with this dog of being a good bet that she didn’t forget.

So my advice to you? BE THE COOKIE LADY!! Or COOKIE MAN! Enjoy the rewards YOU get—good behavior! 