October is Homeless Animal Month

The vast number of homeless animals in the United States continues to remain a major problem. And with the icy cold, rainy weather quickly approaching, the plight of these innocent animals in need of permanent, loving homes is heartbreaking.

To help raise public awareness concerning the overwhelming dilemma these homeless animals must endure, and to also offer some workable solutions to this problem, FloridaWild Veterinary Hospital has set aside October as Homeless Animal Month.

Even though cats and dogs continue to be the most cherished and popular pets throughout the United States, there remains untold numbers of these beautiful animals who continue to be deprived of the tender, compassionate care they so richly deserve. Compounding the homeless issue is the number of pets who must suffer unspeakable cruelty and neglect.

While there are many animal lovers throughout the United States who do adopt shelter pets, there are others with a preference for pure-bred cats or dogs, purchasing them from breeders. Although there are ethical, responsible breeders who are very careful to whom they will sell their animals, the kitten and puppy mills still flourish due to the demand for pure-bred pets.

Sadly, kitten and puppy mill “purebred” cats and dogs are overbred and are raised under horrific conditions, which results in stock with major medical and behavioral problems for which their new owners are not equipped to handle (or simply unwilling to deal with them). As a result many of these unfortunate animals ultimately end up being surrendered to overcrowded animal shelters.

Obviously this overbreeding only complicates matters and increases the number of homeless cats and dogs in our country. These kitten and puppy mills and unscrupulous back-yard breeders are hugely responsible for the alarming rate of cats and dogs being born for sale by greedy breeders. They are only concerned with cutting costs and making profits. This leaves huge numbers of amazing companion animals languishing in shelters; pets who are desperately in need of permanent loving homes, with only one out of ten who will be adopted.

So what are some reasons that so many animals remain homeless?
According the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), of the approximately 70 million stray animals living in the United States, approximately six to eight million cats and dogs end up in the 3,500 shelters across the U.S. annually. Pit bull or pit bull associated breeds and mixed breeds are a quarter of those animals who are brought into shelters. Many of them end up in shelters because their owners surrender or abandon them, or they are lost and since they have no identification tags, have been picked up as strays by animal control officers.

With approximately only 10 percent of these animals ending up in shelters have been spayed or neutered, this can result in some mind-blowing statistics that were gathered from various shelters. Did you know that just one intact female dog and her offspring can produce up to 67,000 puppies and one intact female cat along with her offspring can produce about 420,000 kittens in seven years?

Only 30 percent of shelter dogs are reunited with their owners. Sadly the same is not true for kitties. The sobering truth is that in reality about 80,000 animals are euthanized every week in shelters across the country. But what makes these statistics even more alarming is that the people who want a specific breed end up buying them when instead they can easily adopt them through specific breed rescue groups. For example: If you are looking for a Siamese cat, contact The Meezer Express. Do Collies tug at your heart? Contact The Collie Rescue Foundation.

What can we as animal lovers do to help?
In addition to choosing adoption over purchasing, boycott pet stores that sell cats and dogs. If a specific breed is your heart's desire, search the internet for breed rescue groups. Neuter and spay your pets. Donate to your local shelter and volunteer. Become a pet foster parent. Microchip your pet and keep it up-to-date so you can be reunited more quickly in case your pet gets lost. Be sure your pet wears an ID tag that has all the pertinent identifying information needed. Don’t forget to make arrangements for your pet ahead of time in case you are too ill to care for him/her, or in the event of your death.

FloridaWild Veterinary Hospital is offering $20 microchipping and 10% off Red Dingo tags, leashes, and collars for the month of October to celebrate Homeless Animal Month.

By: Jo Singer, MSW, CSW, LCSW, (Ret.)

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