Overpopulation of animals is a phenomenon when the number of any given species increases to an alarming extent and the ecosystem fails to support the survival of its inhabitants.
It is a pressing issue for the entire planet as the exceeding burden of overpopulated species create turbulence in the cosmic harmony of living things.
Animal “overpopulation” occurs due to many reasons: (1) allowing animals to reproduce with little to no chance of finding homes for the little ones, and (2) Owners abandoning pets because they no longer want them around. 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.
Animal Overpopulation Crisis
Animal overpopulation has definitely become a global crisis. There are simply not enough homes for the number of abandoned animals. As cats and dogs are 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 are without loving homes are either forced to enter shelters or left on roadsides. A large number of pets are given up by their pet parents 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.
Another reason for overflow is that people associate pets with the status symbol and prefer buying a true breed over animals adopted from the pound. This puts a lot of 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.”
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 shelters every year. Only 3.2 million of these are adopted, and 1.5 million are euthanized because animal shelters can no longer sustain them.
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. Resultantly, the litter ends up abandoned or at a shelter. These abandoned pets then mate with other companion animals and result in 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 pets. It is important to research everything about pet ownership before making such a decision.
All family members should be comfortable with the idea. Ensure that there are no allergies and that the house is suitable for keeping a pet, feeding it, providing space to play, and stimulating 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 Overpopulation and Overflowing Shelter Problem
Shelter overcrowding and the homeless animals on the streets are quite concerning. Like many empathic people out there, I also wish I could bring every animal home with me. However, have you ever considered the reason for their overcrowding?
It is frequently assumed that all breeders are to blame, but this isn’t true. A responsible breeder interviews prospective buyers to ensure they are a good fit for the animal. If things don’t work out, they require new owners to return the animal to the breeder, preventing it from going to a shelter.
Irresponsible breeders are mainly the reason behind the overflowing of animal shelters. They breed dogs repeatedly without regard to their health, do not care about the home the animal ends up in, and do not ensure the animal’s return if the new home does not work out.
Pet parents also play a role in shelters overflowing with animals. Many people don’t realize how much time and effort is needed before getting a pet. When they can’t keep up with the pet’s needs, the animal ends up at the shelter.
A Solution to Animal Homelessness
Let’s learn about various ways through which we can help homeless animals and play our part!
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. Adopt, don’t shop!
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 to reduce pet overpopulation problem. This would also lift some burden off the taxpaying communities, and 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 effects. These include hearing problems, epilepsy, and hip dysplasia.
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 animal back if it does not suit the family.
Even with careful breeding, the problem of homelessness can only be solved by adoption of homeless animals directly from the shed and getting all pets spayed or neutered.
Discourage Puppy Mills
Puppy mills mate 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. They are often returned to shelters causing an increase in animal overpopulation.
Some states take strict actions against such breeders, but other states need to join in too. If banned by law, overpopulation and ill-treatment of dogs and cats can be reduced.
What You Can Do to Combat Pet Overpopulation
The solution to this serious problem is simple: limit the number of animals coming into this world. Here are a few simple methods you can undertake to fight pet overpopulation:
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 an animal, 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.
Spay and Neuter Your Pet
Spaying and neutering your pet can reduce companion animal 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 of pet owners.
Spaying or neutering also saves pets from potential health risks. By getting them neutered, the risk of diseases like testicular and prostate cancer is reduced in males.
Similarly, 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.
Furthermore, spayed and neutered pets can prove to be less expensive in the long run. Veterinary care, vaccines, and risks for emergency C-sections add to the expenses, and laws in most states don’t give that choice.
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 holders putting them in shelters. Hence, it should be avoided at all costs.
It is one of the easiest things you can do! Educate everyone around you about the population crisis and the importance of neutering and adopting from shelters.
Spread the word! First, keep yourself informed and then inform others.
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 spay or neuter their pets.
Campaigns should be run 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!