USA Today has a piece on the survey commissioned by Petsmart which asked 3000 adults questions about spay-neuter and shelter kill numbers. The article dives in head first on “pet overpopulation” which is unfortunate since there is no such thing. The longer we perpetuate that myth, the further we are away from having a real societal discussion on the inherent value of pets’ lives.
The piece also focuses on how the public grossly underestimates how many pets are killed in shelters every year. I don’t see this as significant because even though the numbers guessed by many respondents were significantly lower than the commonly reported estimates, they were still huge numbers – one hundred thousand, one million, etc. The public knows that many shelters are needlessly killing pets in this country, they just don’t know the estimated numbers.
The important takeaways from the survey results to my mind are:
- Roughly 7% of dog owners and 10% of cat owners reported unplanned litters: This is not a shocking response in my view. The survey did not delve into such things as whether the pups/kittens from these litters were placed responsibly with screened homes and lifetime return guarantees but then again, we know that not all planned breedings result in responsible placements so there ya go.
- 24% obtained their pet from a rescue group or shelter: This is good! Granted this is a small scale survey in comparison to the entire pet owning country but if we could see 24% adoption rate in every community, we’d be in like flynn.
- 31% didn’t neuter their pet because of cost: The article mentions that there are many options for low cost neuter surgery. Apparently there aren’t enough. Or if there are, why doesn’t the general public know about them? The other important consideration which the piece doesn’t mention is no cost neuter. There are some people who, out of the goodness of their hearts, will share what little food and warmth they have with a stray pet but can’t afford to neuter that pet at any price. We need volunteers and subsidized programs in order to offer no cost neuter to that segment of the pet owning population. Now.