Animal Overpopulation

dog cat deck

Each day, an estimated 70,000 puppies and kittens are born in the USA alone. The number is estimated at  27 million each year. Tragically, millions of these are put down or euthanized due to overpopulation.

On average, approximately 6.3 million companion animals enter the shelters every year. Only 3.2 million of these are adopted, and 1.5 million are euthanized because shelters can no longer sustain them. 

Animal overpopulation is being faced due to many reasons that include irresponsible behavior by pet parents, intentional or backyard breeders, and puppy mills. Pet ownership comes with great responsibility! The failure to understand how a single litter of puppies or cats can potentially produce hundreds of offspring results in a terrible outcome of overflow and, consequently, animal euthanasia.

All of these reasons for overpopulation are preventable. One simple way is to reduce the number of animals being reproduced. It can be achieved by spaying and neutering the pets. If done right, it can bring a lot more benefits than just controlling the population.

Animal Overpopulation Crisis

Pet overpopulation has definitely become a national crisis. There are simply not enough suitable pet homes for the number of homeless animals. As dogs and cats are completely domesticated animals, they can not survive in the wild or on the streets. They depend largely on humans for food, shelter, and protection. 

The animals involved that can not find homes are either forced to enter shelters or are left on roadsides. A large number of pets are given up by their owners for being too old or too sick or because they could simply not afford to keep them. The reasons also include allergies, moving out, or incompatibility with a family member or other pets.

animal overpopulation

Another reason for overflow is that people associate pets with the status symbol and prefer buying a true breed over animals adopted from shelters. This puts a lot of influx vs. outflow pressure on shelter systems. 

The state has to maintain the finances to sustain such a large number of animals. According to USA Today, “It costs US taxpayers approximately $2 billion each year to round up, house, kill and dispose of homeless animals.”

Irresponsible Caretakers

When pet owners fail to spay or neuter their pets, they end up having accidental litter that is either too expensive to maintain or is just unwanted by the household. As a result, the litter ends up either at a shelter or abandoned by the roadside. These abandoned pets then mate with other companion animals and result in even more population.

Some caretakers are just not committed enough to own a pet. They never pay careful attention to detail before owning a pet and end up relinquishing their pet. It is important to research and commit before making such a decision. It must be confirmed that all family members are comfortable with the idea, there are no allergies, and that the house is suitable to keep a pet, feed it, provide space to play, and stimulate healthy nourishment and growth. 

Owning a pet should be a lifelong commitment and not a matter of status elevation or experimentation. Pets are not disposable commodities, they are family members that need a lifelong permanent home.

pet population control

A Solution to Animal Homelessness

Adopt From the Shelter System

Animal homelessness can largely be avoided by adopting directly from a shelter instead of buying from breeders or puppy mills. Animal shelters face a lot of stress as they have millions of pets added each year that are relinquished by the owners either because they are too sick, too dangerous, or no longer serve the needs of pet parents.

Pet owners should encourage other potential pet parents to adopt from animal shelters so that the pet overpopulation problem can be reduced. This would also lift some burden off the taxpaying communities, and the lives of more animals will be saved.

Avoid Buying From Breeders

Breeders and pet stores usually take animals as a way to earn money. They repeat interbreeding in an effort to maintain demand for purebred animals, and it results in adverse health effects. These include hearing problems, epilepsy, and hip dysplasia.

Careful Breeding

Careful breeding involves interviews of willing families by the breeder. Responsible breeders look into what owners can provide for the pet and whether the house can be a permanent home for the dog or not. They also commit to taking the pet back if it does not suit the family. 

Even with careful breeding, the problem of homelessness can only be solved by adoption directly from the shelters and getting all pets spayed or neutered.

Discourage Puppy Mills

Puppy mills breed dogs in strict environments to produce dogs in mass numbers. They do not pay attention to their needs and treat them as objects to make money. Such dogs are prone to diseases and have poor behavior as they are kept in unsatisfactory conditions. They are often returned to the shelters due to these reasons and cause an increase in pet overpopulation.

Some states take strict actions against such breeders, but other states need to join in too. If it is banned by law, overpopulation and ill-treatment of dogs and cats can be reduced.

Things You Can Do To Reduce Pet Overpopulation

Spay and Neuter Your Pet

Spaying and neutering your pet can prevent overpopulation by 100%. Even a single pet can produce many litters that can grow exponentially and result in homeless, unwanted pets that get disposed of because of negligence on the part of pet owners. 

You can also save your pets from potential health risks by spaying or neutering them. By getting them neutered, the risk of diseases like testicular and prostate cancer is reduced in males. At the same time, a spayed female is saved from the risk of uterine, ovarian, and mammary cancer. It also reduces behavioral problems such as howling, biting, and mounting.

Apart from this, spayed and neutered pets can prove to be less expensive in the long run. Veterinary visits, vaccines, and risks for emergency c-sections add to the expenses, and it is not a choice to opt out of it by law in most states.

overpopulation animals

Be a Responsible Pet Owner

A responsible pet owner makes sure that the pets are spayed. They are taken care of and provided for. When you buy a pet, you must be devoted to owning it for a lifetime. A pet requires emotional, medical, and financial care. It will go through phases of sickness and health, and it depends on you for all the care. Having an old or sick dog does not mean you have to get rid of it. Own it and get veterinary care when needed. 

Don’t Intentionally Breed Your Pet

Intentionally breeding the pet means that you are mating the dogs or cats in hopes of getting desired characteristics. This results in adverse outcomes like genetic diseases, skin problems, heart diseases, and a suppressed immune system. These purebred dogs and cats may get sick and not develop as expected, resulting in owners putting them in shelters. Hence, it should be avoided at all costs.

Final Thoughts

Overpopulation of animals results in millions of pets being killed each year. The sad part is that it does not have to be this way. Animal overflow can be eliminated by 100% if all caretakers are responsible enough to spay or neuter their pets. Campaigns should be run in order to create awareness among people so that adoption is always the preference. Innocent animals should not suffer the painful consequences of spending their whole lives in cages or being put to sleep when they are perfectly capable of living their life normally!

Cody Mitchell
Cody Mitchell is a pet lover and a passionate pet writer. He has worked as a professional writer for over 6 years, with a focus on creating compelling content for pet-related brands. His work has been featured in major publications. When he's not writing, Cody can be found playing with his two dogs (a labradoodle and a cocker spaniel) or cuddling his cat.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

Sign Up For Newsletter!