It’s Spay Day – Let’s Lie!

In a column at, a vet tech/spay-neuter clinic volunteer says she wants “to educate the public on a few little known facts”.  A promising opener.  Followed by a crock of miseducation.  Let’s set the record straight.  Again.

Is it a mystery why we have such a pet overpopulation problem?

You know what’s a mystery to me?  Why so-called animal advocates keep saying we have a pet overpopulation problem when that myth has been debunked.

More than 400,000 unwanted kittens and puppies were turned in to Georgia Open Door Animal Shelters in 2010 (on top of the already-heavy surplus).

Source, please?  I am a total wonk for shelter reports and somehow this one, which apparently tallies the total number of cats and dogs, broken down by age, that entered Georgia’s shelters in 2010 has eluded me.  I would love to read that report.  Anyone?

In just six years, one female dog and her offspring can be the source of 67,000 puppies.

OK, let’s take a look at the math on this oft touted figure, and sprinkle in a dose of reality.  Here is the myth:

An unspayed female dog, her mate and all of their puppies, if none are ever neutered or spayed, can add up to:

  • One Year: 16
  • Two Years: 128
  • Three Years: 512
  • Four Years: 2,048
  • Five Years: 12,288
  • Six Years: 67,000
  • So in the first year, we are assuming the bitch had two litters with her mate, resulting in 14 pups (plus the adult bitch and sire for a total of 16).
    Possible, yes – although while 7 might be an average litter size for a retriever or a shepherd, smaller dogs will average fewer pups per litter. In order to carry on with the math in the model, we have to assume all of the following:

    • Every pup survives.
    • Every pup is fertile.
    • Every pup is sexually mature at 6 months of age and able to produce two better-than-average sized litters in the first year of life.
    • Every pup is either a roaming stray or owned by someone who allows the dog to breed indiscriminately.

    The first 3 assumptions go against the laws of nature and the last goes against societal norms.  Therefore, I find the basis of this model to be fatally flawed.

    Back to the article:

    For cats, one female cat and her offspring can be the source of 420,000 kittens in just seven years.

    The true figure for how many cats are produced from an intact female cat over a 7 year period is actually 100 – 400.  And even those figures are on the high side because they assume that no adult cats die, which we know to be false.  See the math and the research behind the realistic estimates here.

    Huge numbers, huh? So how can they all possibly get homes?

    Yeah, huge false numbers.  They can’t all possibly get homes.  In fact, none of us humans would be able to keep our homes if those numbers were real.  We’d have to wade through piles of cats and dogs just to cross the street.

    Pet overpopulation results in the destruction of more than 3 million perfectly good dogs and cats every year in the United States.

    No it doesn’t, because it doesn’t exist.  What results in the needless killing of healthy/treatable shelter pets is maintaining the status quo and repeating myths to the public under the guise of education.

    [Spay-neuter] is the only answer to achieving a no-kill status in animal shelters in this country.

    Many shelters in this country have achieved no kill status by implementing the No Kill Equation.  And they didn’t have to lie about it either.

    86 thoughts on “It’s Spay Day – Let’s Lie!

    1. Good job exposing those myths! Perhaps cockroachs produce that many offspring but certainly not dogs or cats. It is scary enough though to the general public to make any solution seem necessary…and that’s the point…

    2. while i don’t think that ‘spay/neuter is the ONLY answer to achieving no-kill status in animal shelters in this country’, it’s certainly an important part

        1. chemical sterilization should be much cheaper and will be more effective, when the Am.Vet association stops fighting it. It is a great alternatve
          for feral animals. The group led by Alex Pachenco, “600 million stray dogs” has a safe, biodegradable chemical answer now. It can be delivered in a treat. They can eat one or five . Safe and works very well in females. It is not allowed in the USA.

        2. askwilliewonka –
          Do you have more info on this product? I would love to read more about it – I haven’t heard of it before.

        3. i’ve heard of neutersol before, but understood that it was only effective in young puppies for a certain period of time (and had to be injected, not injested)

          Also, the link above claimed chem spay is only 20% effective…

        4. I agree – anything that can be digested or sprayed to “sterilize” animals really is scary. It would make the effort to eliminate domesticated animals all too easy for any nut job that is out there thinking they are doing the “right” thing for our pets. So now instead of just worrying about the neighbor that hates your dog and tries to poison it – we are also going to have to be concerned about someone deciding for us when/if our pets need spayed/neutered.

      1. The name of the group is “600 Million Stray Dogs” – they have a web site and a Facebook page. It is NOT neutersol.
        It has a MUCH higher success rate. This project has some serious supporters and is being tested in Latin America and Mexico for the past several years.
        I am VP of a Non Profit S/N organization in N.C. called
        “Project Pets-Spay,Neuter,Love”. We are running “Spay/Neuter Gaston” now. I am partnered with S/N Carolina and the Humane Alliance in Asheville,NC. We offer Low/No cost S/N to anyone who requests it, and we do a few feral’s each month. No matter how you do the math, the less homeless litters we have this year, the less will die in the shelters. Visit us on FB.

        1. OK – read the article that Marguerite posted. After being concerned about how just ANYONE could use it to sterilize anyone’s pet scared me to even think about. BUT – did you READ that article. It says the following –

          “But taking the VCD to market and making it affordable worldwide will cost millions of dollars, which is why Alex Pacheco, cofounder of Peta and founder of 600 Million Stray Dogs Need You, is urging the public to donate to research.”

          I’m sorry but ANYTHING PETA related scares the hell out of me. They have no true love of our companion animals…and this could be EXACTLY what they need to eradicate our beloved friends & companions. Does this bother anyone else????

        2. A small amount of cursory research turned up this gem about the active ingredient in the spay pill: “Under the conditions of the NTP 2-year dermal studies, 4-VCHD induced both squamous cell and basal cell neoplasms of the skin of most male and female F344/N rats. In these 4-VCHD–exposed rats there were no distant or non-application site tumors. In mice, 4-VCHD induced squamous cell carcinomas of the skin in most males and females. Regarding internally induced neoplasia, both benign and malignant tumors of the ovaries were caused by dermal exposure of 4-VCHD in female mice. Also in female mice, marginal increases of alveolar/bronchiolar adenomas/carcinomas of the lung may have been related to 4-VCHD.”

          Found that here:

          Not in my dog, you don’t!

        3. Marguerite –
          I am sooo with you on that one. Most people do the surgery to avoid their dog contacting cancer in the reproductive organs…and if this is actually showing an increase of the possiblity of cancer by using this product…WOW…I definitely don’t want to use it or have it used on ANY animal if that’s the result!

        4. I wouldn’t say that *most* people spay/neuter to reduce concerns for cancer. It’s definitely a benefit not having to worry about mammary cancer, pyometra, and, likely, prostate problems, in my pets but that wasn’t my primary reason for doing so.

          For me, and I suspect many people, it is simply the right thing to do when being a responsible pet owner.

        5. I apologize…I should have taken the time to explain everything & I was rushing through. What I should have said is that it is one of the primary benefits that people who decide to spay & neuter that I have talked to have cited. But, I also feel that it is a decision best left to the dog’s owner & vet to make the decision on the basis of each individual animal. Especially after I read this –

          I do realize that people ‘mainly’ spay & neuter to prevent unwanted pregnancy, or to avoid having to worry about their dog wandering off in search of finding a mate.

    3. The only reliable shelter stats report for Georgia that I am aware of is the GVAW report, but that covers 2007 stats only, and you need to do a little number-crunching to get at the figure for total intake (419,355, by my calculations). Compiling that report required a significant volunteer effort, which they describe in the report. I am not aware of anyone replicating that effort for 2010 numbers.

      SPOT Society did a stats report a few years ago as well, but their data set was for metro Atlanta, and you can’t really extrapolate that out to the whole state because there are too many variables, and I haven’t been able to get a copy which explains the methodology and limitations of their study, unlike the GVAW report. At any rate, even if you go with my calculated intake for 2007, that is all dogs and cats of all ages, not just puppies and kittens.

      And what is an “Open Door Shelter”? Shelters that kill for population control have effectively closed their intake doors to those who find that practice unacceptable, and through bad customer service and outright hostility, frequently prevent animals from leaving alive as well.

    4. OMG or possibly OMFG. The person who wrote this is well-known in the rescue community but not in a good way. Just expressing personal opinion here, not wanting to sound libelous, but many were relieved when her last rescue closed its doors and alarmed when she reopened in a new location. Got a good laugh when I read those stats, though.

    5. “Sterilized dogs and cats live longer, happier lives.”

      Combined with the earlier endorsement in the article of juvenile spay/neuter, I disagree with that “fact” as well. Statistics show that early spay/neuter of Rottweilers leads to significant increases in the rates of two common killers of the breed, hemangiosarcoma and osteosarcoma. I do agree with spay/neuter, but the choice of if and when to do so should be based on research.

      1. And while the research on the Rotties is definitely interesting and worth further pursuing, there are still many unanswered questions about cancer and gonadectomy that this study couldn’t answer.

        But it does go to show that some owners have a legitimate thought when they don’t want to spay or neuter at 6 months or even younger. I think we need to let owners who want to wait the option to do so.

    6. We need more people spaying and neutering their pets, but we don’t have to tell them these crazy numbers, we need to help them with no cost and low cost spay and neuter programs and true info.

      Thank you for this post. I too dislike seeing these false numbers posted over and over again everywhere.

    7. I have worked in the field for more than 23 years….I totally support the No Kill Equation and we are working hard to end the killing in here in Missouri…but I gotta tell ‘ya I DO believe there IS a pet overpopulation problem. We took in over 13,000 animals last year…and I have the stats for that. Our shelter is packed with puppies all year long. I do believe spay/neuter is a valid part of the answer. I moved here from the East Coast where things used to be this bad 15 years ago….I truly believe the advent of spay/neuter clinics there played a big part in ending shelter killing. I just wish instead of wasting time over worrying over who is right, we could be working together to make things better for shelter animals. Spay/neuter is definitely is a part of the answer, just like the No Kill Equation.

        1. I have read the debunking pet-overpopulation myth and I have questions. What source was used for the following numbers, 8 million pets enter shelters and 17 million homes are looking for pets? The area I live in has an organization that received a grant that will allow them to offer low-cost s/n to eligible participants. I’m guessing that means low income. I do believe in s/n.

        2. Multiple sources but this is one I have a link for:

          Research conducted by Draftfcb, the internationally renowned advertising agency that is designing the campaign, has developed statistical and focus group data that will be invaluable to everyone in the animal welfare world.

        3. Thank you. I felt that material was well presented in terms of sourcing. It is my opinion while this math works for a national scale, I do think each area should look at their own numbers. Is animal population/potential adopter ratio the same or comparable in Big City, USA as opposed Po-dunk, USA. Shouldn’t that be taken into consideration?

        4. Absolutely. This is why working with rescues (and marketing pets online to a wide audience) is so important. We can get pets transported from shelters with higher ratios to areas with lower ratios in order to distribute the pets more evenly and get them adopted.

          The numbers are based on a nationwide picture of pet ownership. We need to think in bigger terms than just “The shelter in Smalleyville can’t find enough adopters in Smalleyville for the pets they have”.

        5. I was under the impression that we already move animals around within the sheltering system to help allieviate over population in smaller areas, while making animals available in more densely populated areas – giving the animals a better chance at finding a home.

          I just read about shelters purchasing puppies from “other” sources just to fill up the shelters to accomodate people who were looking for a pet – so they had more to choose from.

          So – maybe if we stopped the shelters that are “buying” animals and REALLY worked on moving animals around within the sheltering system wouldn’t that in and of itself help?

        6. Erica, there is some movement of pets from areas of low demand to areas of higher demand. It’s limited, inefficient, and inadequate. It affects a tiny percentage of the animals in high-kill areas. It needs to be dramatically expanded and improved.

          If you have a link to a source showing that there are any shelters anywhere in the country buying puppies, I’d love to see that. Until I do see it, I have to assume that it’s what I’ve seen before: Puppy millers and the larger-scale, more commercial BYBs describing programs that move highly adoptable dogs (especially puppies) from high-kill shelters to areas of high demand, as “buying” puppies, and the adopting out of these animals as “selling” them for a profit.

          I don’t even think they’re lying; I think they honestly cannot imagine any transaction taking place for any motive except profit.

          YesBiscuit and many of the rest of us want to improve the shelter industry. Puppy millers and commercial BYBs view them as unfair competition.

        7. Addy the Chinese Crested Princess –

          I will try to find where I read it, but I admit that I have been going through so much “stuff” lately that things are running together and if what I read doesn’t pertain to shelter reform then I don’t bother marking it to revisit it at a later time. It is altogether possible that it is like you explained….I guess I just have a hard time thinking of a shelter as competition with ANY breeder (regardless of if it is a “puppy mill” or BYB or legit breeding operation). The concept just boggles my mind. I know that our shelters do have pure breds in them, but many times they are pulled by rescues. So you would think that rescues would be their biggest ‘competition’ not the shelters that everyone assumes are full of unwanted mutts.

          I would love to find out more about transporting animals from one shelter to another. Do you happen to know somewhere that I can look around that would explain a bit about it? We’re trying to get a group together to focus on shelter reform and I think that moving dogs around is a good part of the equation to help them find the right home, as well as helping cut down on killing due to over-crowding. BUT I haven’t found a whole lot about it anywhere.

        8. What do you want to know about transporting animals from one shelter to another? I am aware of a group that transports death row dogs from the south to the north every other Sat. I can send you their website if you want.


        9. Daniela-
          Yes do please send me the info at

          Basically I know that transport takes place – I have friends who have done it in the past. I have mainly seen it attributed to rescues. What I am thinking is that we have shelters in certain areas that tend to adopt out certain breeds/types of dogs over others. Say we have a shelter that moves black labs through the doors quicker than they get more in and they have people asking specifically for that type of dog. Wouldn’t it make sense to transport that type or breed to an area where it is more likely to get adopted vs staying where they are and quite possibly risking death as an alternative?

          So I am trying to find as much info as I can on the subject of transport so that I can understand how it works better.

    8. I do not believe the author’s number crunching and think the problem is worse than she/he admits. That said, the issue is that spay/neuter is important part of the solution to get to no kill…so let’s focus on THAT instead of drivel….OK?

    9. “[Spay-neuter] is the only answer to achieving a no-kill status in animal shelters in this country.”

      My problem with this statement – if I didn’t make it clear in the post – is this:

      Spay-neuter is not the ONLY way to achieve no kill status. In fact, no shelter that I have ever heard of has achieved no kill status by ONLY encouraging spay-neuter. The only proven method of achieving no kill communities is via the No Kill Equation. There are many components to the NKE, one of which is low-cost, voluntary spay-neuter.

    10. I respectfully disagree that is no pet overpopulation. Every day I walk in my park. They compliment my dog and tell them there are more like her at the shelter. There are 120 dogs there on any given day. They’d rather buy a Labrodoodle for $1200 or a cockerpoo instead of the golden mix or the Shepherd/Husky or Lab mixes.
      They chose not to go to the shelter instead buying by breed. Most do not even check breed specific rescues. They want a puppy. The shelter is ugly,loud and awful- for everyone….and mine is a “nicer N.C. shelter. People will avoid going to shelters as long as we continue to punish animals for being homeless. The shelter animals are an ugly reminder of our failure to do the right thing for them.
      As long we we keep dogs in cells and make the shelters killing zones where every animal gets a death sentence and few get a reprieve, until we can literally “market” these animals better by allowing them to shine in their natural environment, not dirty, loud, scary cells. No Kill + The “shelter revolution”, communal living, Adoption Centers with rehab, fosters for special need animals, S/N, all working together, and we can solve this. We know what to do and it is more than just “no Kill” . The quality of their lives is everything. What quality do they have in a cell ? How happy are they ? How happy do they look????? We can do so much better.
      Why don’t we?

      1. Please explain how Nathan Winograd’s math (proving that pet overpopulation is a myth) is wrong. This is a serious question which I have asked everyone who has ever commented on this blog saying they believe pet overpopulation is real. No one has ever answered. If the math is wrong, I’d truly like to know how.

        1. LOL! Biscuit: if anyone ever notices your question and actually ANSWERS it, I want to know what it is! You have great patience and fortitude.

        2. Even though we’ve read Winograd’s explanation of how pet over population being a myth…it appears that we have people that still feel as if it is a problem BECAUSE we’re still killing healthy animals. But, we also have a large group of the “old guard” that continues to push the pet overpopulation ‘problem’ as fact because they’ve always used it. To them the shelter would have to be empty and stay that way for them to believe it.

          Sadly, people don’t want to work through all the step in the no kill solution. They want to harp about spay & neuter and say that’s the ONLY way we can stop the problem of animals entering the shelters.

          I found it humorous that the gal who wrote the article is a vet tech – my sister worked at a vet for over 15 years. And even she said similar things. She also would get into fights with me about if pit bull is a breed or not. She grew up around people from the “old guard” and this is the drivel that they taught her and she believed it and REPEATED it so that other people would say – “Well my vet’s office says…” – and even if it wasn’t true they believed it because they trusted the vet’s office. And there are many other people in the animal industries that are the same way…sadly, no one questions it – they just go with the flow – and the same myths keep getting repeated as fact.

          Good luck getting an answer – they “believe” it but have no way to PROVE it. Probably why you’ll never get an answer.

        3. I don’t KNOW that his math is wrong….but I base my opinion on the number of animals I have seen come in to my shelter and those I have worked at in the past vs. how many adoptions/foster/rescue/transfer to other groups options we are able to find. We have set up transports all across the country and still struggle to find enough ways to save lives. To me, that would indicate there is a pet overpopulation problem. The hundreds of posts I see on Facebook from other groups everyday in my same situation…stuggling to find placements for animals would indicate that to me as well. I have no interest in proving Nathan Winograd wrong….I just see things a shade differently then him.

        4. Okay, I’ll take a go at explaining how the debunking is wrong. First, the “myth” states that 1 female dog or cat CAN add up to those numbers, not that they WILL. This is an important difference, as his primary argument against the so-called myth is that in order to achieve those numbers, you have to make certain assumptions that are either “against the laws of nature” or “against societal norms” (although, I dare say that he has never lived in a very rural area, as many pet owners here do allow their pets to roam free and breed indiscriminately!). Since it IS physically possible for a dog to become pregnant as young as 6 months of age, and most dogs do go into heat twice a year, and many dogs can and do have litters of 7 puppies (some more, some less, but an average of 7 is reasonable), the numbers are not impossible. In fact, my own calculations came up much higher, even with more conservative limiting factors.
          Assuming that each female becomes pregnant between 6 and 9 months of age, produces a SINGLE litter of only 6 puppies, and that only half of those puppies are female, who each go on to have a single litter with the same parameters:
          The first year – “Mom” has 6 puppies, 3 of which are female and and produce 18 more puppies.
          The second year, 9 of those 18 puppies are female and produce 54 puppies, of which the 27 female pups have another 162 puppies before the year is out.
          The 81 females from those litters go on to produce 486 puppies, and their offspring then total 1458 puppies by the end of the 3rd year.
          Those puppies (again, only counting half as female)then have 4379 puppies, half of which deliver 13122 puppies by the end of the 4th year.
          The females from those litters then produce 39366 puppies, and again, if only half have puppies, and only a single litter, by the end of the 5th year, you could already have 118,098 puppies!!
          Go another year and you have more than a million puppies – all offspring from that 1st female, who only had “just one litter”! And I wasn’t being cumulative, since I was only considering the numbers of new puppies produced, not including the past puppies in each year’s figures. So, the 60,000+ puppies in 6 years is actually a pretty conservative number.
          With cats, the numbers are even higher, for the following reasons:
          1. Cats are seasonal breeders, which means that instead of coming into heat twice a year like dogs do, they are fertile from early spring until late fall. Depending on where you live, you could see cats in heat as early as February, and litters born as late as December, though the breeding season in more northern climates will likely be much shorter.
          2. Cats are induced ovulators, which means they stay in heat until they get bred AND they ovulate WHEN they get bred – which greatly increases the likelihood of the sperm finding a receptive egg.
          3. Cats can (and often will) come back into heat while still nursing their previous litter, often as early as 2 weeks after giving birth.
          Because of those factors, a female cat can easily have 3 litters in a single breeding season, and the kittens from the first litter can be having their own kittens before the season is ended (although the later litters are are not as likely to come into heat until the following year).
          I just can’t agree with his 100-400 estimate. I followed the link, and while it all sounds good, it goes back to the difference between what is theoretically possible and what actually plays out in the real world. In addition, I wonder what feral cat colonies the research was done at and if they monitored an entire breeding season, because most of the feral cats I have dealt with typically have 4-6 kittens per litter, and while I would not be surprised at a 75% mortality rate, their calculations seem to fail to take into account multiple litters per season, which is more the norm in my experience.
          As for my qualifications – I have been a practicing veterinarian for nearly 15 years. I have a strong personal interest in genetics and canine and feline reproduction, own pure bred dogs and cats, am active in a number of breed and all-breed clubs, and have been involved in exhibiting my own dogs and cats in both conformation and performance events. On the flip side, I am also extremely active in shelter medicine and rescue work. I have worked for and with a number of shelter/rescue organizations, including small foster-home based rescue groups, no-kill humane societies and county animal shelters.
          I can see both sides of the issue. I know that I love my pure bred dogs and cats for the specific traits their breeds possess. I didn’t want just any dog or cat, but ones with very specific characteristics. From the breeders I work with and am friends with, I know that they put a great deal of thought into the litters they produce, striving to improve their breeds with each new generation, not just randomly or haphazardly throwing 2 dogs or cats together and selling the offspring to pad their pockets.
          But at the same time, I have seen the number of apparently pure bred dogs that come into the shelters and often don’t walk out. I have seen the numbers of cute puppies and adorable kittens put down, because someone wanted another pet just like their Fluffy. I have been the one to decide which perfectly healthy and totally adoptable dogs and cats have to be euthanized because there simply are not enough homes and not nearly enough room to house them all.
          Because of my experience on both sides of the fence, I have come to be pretty passionate on the issue. I do not necessarily believe that all dogs and cats should be spayed or neutered, and am against blanket mandatory spay/neuter policies. However, I do strongly feel that if you are not breeding to improve your breed (which means researching your bloodlines, doing health testing, evaluating temperament and conformation, AND following up on the offspring to KNOW what you are producing), then you have no business breeding. Furthermore, every puppy or kitten you allow to be born is a life you are responsible for, so if you’re not willing to step up and take responsibility for that dog or cat down the road, should their “forever home” not work out, then once again, you have no business breeding. That’s just the breeding side of things. On the owning side, if you have very specific ideas in what you want in a dog or cat, then do your research and find the breed that best matches those traits. THEN do more research to find a RESPONSIBLE breeder who not only breeds the breed you are looking for, but also has the same ideas and goals about what you want in a pet. And then wait for them to have the right puppy or kitten for you. However, if you just want a dog or a cat, and don’t have a lot of preferences besides maybe large or small, or long hair or short hair, then go to a shelter and save a life! Or do both – get that special breed you want AND save a life by going to a breed rescue! And then, if you’re not going to breed responsibly, then BE responsible and get your pet spayed or neutered!
          So, now that I’ve spent way longer on this rant than I intended, I’m going to step off my soapbox and go love on my furkids (all of whom are spayed/neutered, and half of which are rescues!).

      2. I think we all know that adopting out of a shelter can be frustrating(see)

        So yes, I agree that finding better methods of marketing shelter pets is ideal! But let’s not assume that every person, even if the shelter/rescue adoption situation was improved, would want to adopt a shelter or rescue pet. Petsmart charities did a poll that showed rather well people who wanted to purchase from a breeder would not consider sshelter or rescues dog and the reason had little to do with how the dog was marketed or housed.

        While I agree that spaying and neutering can be helpful in preventing litters, it’s responsible dog ownership that prevents litters. Just because a dog is intact does not mean it will breed if it is housed correctly.

        What we need to push for is simple responsible dog ownership. Finds means to reduce reasons WHY dogs end up in shelters in the first place. Starting with easy community based classes on animal education and training, low cost spay and neuter for those who need it, resources for those who loose their homes and have pets, greater accountability for those owners who allow their pets to roam loose and greater enforcement of current animal control laws.

        Spaying and neutering might prevent an animal from breeding, but intact reproductive organs in dogs are NOT the reasons those dogs are in the shelter to begin with, irresponsible dog ownership is.

        1. I do agree with most of your points…BUT there are quite a few people that I run into that say things like – Craiglist has free pets on it…why go to a shelter? So there is competition from other places – not just breeders. I also talk to people that didn’t even know that there were rescues that deal with pure bred dogs/cats AND they didn’t even know that our city had a shelter. So I think getting the info out that there are shelters and making them easier to access would help improve the chances of not only people utilizing shelters to find their next family pet. Granted – there are some people that utilize breeders for a few reasons – like wanting a specific working dog that you can guarantee has a good gene pool – that you can verify by purchasing through breeders. But I have aso found that some people mistakenly believe that only mutts are in shelters. Regardless – we need to find a way to not only improve adoptions but also increase work with rescues AND offer more programs for the public – reduced cost training, couseling for those who wish to “dump” their animals at a shelter woudl probably also help – we have so many people that aren’t aware of food pantries for pet food and low cost vet care in their area.

          And while I DO agree with greater enforcement of existing animal laws would be wonderful, but the greater accountability of those who allow their dogs to run loose I am having mixed feelings on. Yes, I think they should be held more accountable, but I have also seen where they are held more accountable and can’t afford the fees and such to get their dog out of the shelter in time and as a result they either walk away from it wihtout a backwards glance or they struggle to come up with the funds only to find out their family pet was either killed or adopted before they could gather enough money to pay the fees. So there has to be some way to hold them accountable without it being taken to the point that they are unable to afford to get their dog back, which is only going to result in another dog/cat that can’t be “bailed out” and as a result the animal loses in the end, with its life.

          So issues like that need addressed.

      3. It’s interesting to me that you site pet overpopulation as the reason animals are being killed at your local shelter. Then you mention it’s a ugly, loud, awful place who doesn’t market their adoptable pets well. Sounds to me you have a shelter problem more than anything.

    11. “In a column at, a vet tech/spay-neuter clinic volunteer says she wants “to educate the public on a few little known facts”.

      Is it a mystery why we have such a pet overpopulation problem?”

      Read “Redemption”,lady.

      This is a big reason why we arent No Kill yet…the humans who many other humans seek their “education” about animal shelters from, are certified morons with their heads so far up their rear ends, they could french kiss themselves.

      The worse plague known to Earth is what humans transmit back and forth to each other on a daily basis, either through disinformation (They know better, but it’s bad for business to tell the truth) or misinformation (They are clueless). This plague, far more dangerous than any other, is one that has killed more precious individuals than any other.
      This plague has a name: Speciesism.

      It’s symptoms include:



      Lack of reverence for the lives of those who do not belong to your particular species



      Committing acts of murder against those of another species

      Speciesism. The day that we cure it, is the day that we become No Kill.

      The only antidote for Speciesism is enlightenment (knowledge).

      But as the old saying goes: “It’s hard to soar like and eagle, when you work with a bunch of turkeys”.

      No offense to turkeys.

    12. The “overpopulation” myth is easily disproven:

      This year, 5 million animals will be murdered in “Shelters”.

      Also this year, 17 million Americans will be looking for a pet.

      If just a small fraction of those looking for pets choose a shelter (and save a life),instead of puppy mills, sidewalk cat and dog pimps, etc., Bada Bing! We will be No Kill.

      But just for argument’s sake: Even if there was an overpopulation problem (If you trust math, it is proven that there is NOT an overpopulation problem, but lets ignore the data for a moment), it is still WRONG to murder cats and dogs.

      Dont cry the crocodile tears while spouting the B.S. that there arent enough homes…..yes there are.


      There are 30 BILLION human animals crowding this Earth, with their obese bodies, their destructive ways, their stupidity and their plague of Speciesism, and we find room for them…we dont “kill some to make room for others”. Only a Speciesist idiot would think in such a narrow minded way.

      If we can fit 30 billion 200 pound humans on Earth, bet the ranch that there is plenty of space for 12-15 pound cats and 50-75 pound dogs.

      Anyone who says otherwise is a thick headed Speciesist just looking for a reason to kill.

      And yet if THEIR fat a$$ were up for consideration for “being euthanized” to “make room for others”, they would cry bloody murder.

      And they’d be right.

      Bloody murder, indeed.

      Cats and dogs are the victims, and humans are the killers.

      Bloody murder.

      1. no offense, but last time i checked, the human population of planet earth was just under 7 billion.
        Also, about 14% of the current population live in hunger. And a large portion of the world’s population would be children. So your assertion that there are 30 billion 200 lb humans on the planet is way off base
        Personally, it’s hard to hear your message when there are such glaring errors- it makes me wonder what else you could’ve gotten wrong.

        1. Even if the math is wrong – the MESSAGE behind what is being said is glaring out for all to see. It isn’t ok to kill people for overpopulation, so why should we accept animals being killed? I got the message…why dwell on the numbers?

        2. as i said, when there are glaring errors in the message, it leads to doubts about the message
          i heard him loud and clear (and tend to agree) but i totally got hooked on the mistake and then had to google it to make sure- i spent more time double checking his statistic than i did thinking about the message (and hell- i’m a person that CARES about animal welfare- imagine how easy it is for Joe Schmo to get distracted from the message)

        3. And this is on a post ABOUT misinformation and bad math- therefore it seems COMPLETELY appropriate to point this out.
          The message from the post is good too- spay and neuter! But we all got distracted by her bad math and misinfo. How are Matt’s mistakes any different?

        4. Point taken. I guess that besides just her number crunching (in the article) being funky…I was caught up in the “benefits” that spay/neuter claims to help, some of which have been debunked and I was more stuck on THAT than just her obvious error in math. It actually sounds like her numbers come from HSUS – because it is so similar to thing I have heard from their supporters. I apologize – my head was in the benefits rather than just the numbers.

          Here is an interesting read about spay/neuter from NAIA –

    13. “The quality of their lives is everything”

      They cant have a quality of life, if we kill them.

      Killing gets in the way of that whole “life” thingie.

    14. You know another incredible one I want sources for? The “only one in 600 pit bulls finds a home” number that I’ve heard again & again. When I ask people where it comes from, they always cite another website. No one cites a study of any kind, and I can’t find one, either. Anyone know where this comes from?

      1. I also wonder about THAT. I know my local shelter took in 3395 pit bull type dogs last year. They give stats that say “46% of all dogs euthanized were pit bulls” – if I did a little math – it would appear the my shelter sucks because you come up with 101% for total number of animals. Given THAT I don’t know how ANY shelter can be coming up with info on dogs in their care if the numbers add up like that! AND it makes it darn hard to actually do the math when their numbers are off!

    15. Yes I noticed : ) …..
      I hope to address it for you, with some professional help. I am not an expert but I do know some who are.
      I know I am swimming upstream on this blog but I do have strong feelings and I will try to express them clearly. I respect some of the posters here. I enjoy Shirley’s knowledge and topics. She is relevant and intelligent. I disagree here only because I believe this to be a real problem with the NKE way. We can not make people take dogs and cats they do not want. not everyone wants a pit mix but that is 50% of the animals in N.C. shelters. As as I said earlier, most people hate going to county shelters. Dirty ugly reminders of our failure to help these homeless animals.
      Where do they go ? Now they go to the landfill.
      I agree with much of Mr Winograd’s ideas and certainly ideals.

      I have asked Thomas Cole to join us here and I hope he will soon. His Adoption Center model and rehab program answers the questions that I continued to have. I do read Mr. Winograd’s blog. I think he has excellent points. We agree a lot more things than we disagree !!
      Now, I ask you “What about the rest”? The 7 million + who will be killed this year. The 7 million who will die again next year. Owner surrenders are higher than ever !! Where are they going ??
      What about the animals left in Ky, Tn, or Pender county,NC – the middle aged, less desirable mixed breeds who die every day. Do you believe the #’s from the shelters? the same ones selling dogs and drugs all over the south. Do you think they have a reason to hide the real #’s. Be honest – yes, they do. They don’t report as many dead, collect more more $$$ for the ones that are alive,and they make a profit for themselves. Many small shelter routinely kill most of the animals Friday afternoon so they don’t have to work hard on the weekend. Many are closed weekends in the south. Some have 2 hours open to the public on Sat am. The they kill the remainder. That took us 2 years to get in Gaston and Robeson, NC.
      It is hard to stop people form doing things the way they always have done. having lived in the month for the first 50 years of my life did not prepare me for life in the South. It is 100 years behind much of the country. I am constantly reminded that “I ain’t from around here ” and they do not mean it as a compliment. I don’t care.
      SO far, nothing I have seen or read has convinced me differently. I do work in the shelters, in rescue and in am an advocate for animal welfare and rights legislation.
      I live it every day. I see it differently.

      1. @ askwilliewonka, could it be that the challenges you write about are directly related to the refusal of local shelter personnel to implement the NKE? To their simply not caring enough? Could it be that the numbers of critters coming into your local shelters and rescues are a local problem, not a national issue?

        In Calif animal control facilities are paid $60. for every animal they kill instead of finding it a home. Payments are currently suspended due to budget problems, but pounds have made mega-millions on killing rather than reselling or rehoming animals.

        The national “7 million killed a year” figure you mentioned is incorrect; the 2008 data shows 3.7 M:

        and possibly only ~2 million in 2009:

        The number of shelter animals killed yearly continues in a downward trend nationally; fewer enter shelters nationally; 75% of all US dogs are sterilized per the 2007-08 APPA pet ownership survey; up to 93% of all OWNED cats are sterilized .. and less than 3% of all feral cats:

        “Rescues” have imported so many sick puppies for resale from Puerto Rico, India, Mexico, Lebanon, and elsewhere that the CDC enacted national quarantine rules:

        There has only been one study I’ve found to date that directly asked, ‘where do shelter dogs come from,’ done by one small sanctuary:

        85% were from friends or neighbors; about 7-8% were from ‘other sources’: newspapers, craiglist, shelter dogs the owners didn’t want after all, etc.

        The public data I’ve seen on why dogs are in shelters is also revealing: 96% of all shelter dogs have ZERO obedience training – and over half of all shelter dogs are already spayed or neutered:

        There are so many ways these facts can be used to solve the problems you mentioned in your post. My question: why aren’t the people who scream loudest about ‘pet overpopulation’ doing something good with this easily found data?

        1. The part on rescues gets me – IMPORTING from other countries! How is that even right to do? I mean these are rescues that carry the 501(c)3 status and should be working with the animals within the US. Am I the only one who has a problem with this?

        2. Puerto Rico is not a foreign country; it is part of the USA, its citizens are American citizens, and moving dogs from Puerto Rico to the mainland US is no more “importing” than moving them from Texas to New Hampshire.

          501(c)(3) organizations are required to act in accordance with their mission as stated in their charter. Most animal rescue 501(c)(3) orgs in this country are chartered to rescue animals in the US or in specific areas of the US. Some, though, are formed by people who in their travels saw the horrible conditions of animals in the countries they visited, and decided they wanted to help those animals. And that’s what their charters state is their mission.

          We don’t get to decide where other people choose to expend their charitable efforts.

        3. While I don’t have a problem with rescues getting dogs from within the US…I do have a problem with them being brought in from other countries. I understand what you are saying but given the tax exempt status that applies to the US it seems fishy to have a rescue deemed a 501(c)3 in the US but rescuing from other countries. While I know that we can’t dictate what others do – it just doesn’t seem right.

    16. Public animal “shelters” are ANIMAL CONTROL FACILITIES, and the most important “source of information” is this:
      They are not paid or funded to care and adopt out animals.
      This system has been acceptable to the citizens of Alabama and throughout the USA, we are all at fault for this blind acceptance. The animal control employees are carrying out the will of irresponsible, (cruel) citizens and at the direction of Commissions and Councils. The word “shelter” has no relevance to animal control facilities. They are in essence Killing Facilities, or holding facilites – offering no vet care or adoption programs, with exception of a few, who do this through PRIVATE RESCUES AND INDIVIDUALS.
      At this time, the only hope for an animal getting out of our animal control system is through rescue or adopters who see the pitiful faces on Petfinder or Facebook, or email. The animals laying on concrete, injured diseased are NEVER shown to the public. They wait, forgotten in agony and fear, to die. This is the fate we have provided them.
      Complaints should be addressed to the funders and the citizens who find this evil system acceptable. Witness, speak and demand change.
      Any better suggestions welcome.

      1. i mostly agree with your statement, although i don’t agree with your assertions that ALL Animal Control Centers are the same (no adoptions/vet care, NEVER shown to public, injured diseased (etc))
        Blanket generalizations don’t work and weaken your argument
        But yes- i always tell customers (when we hear complaints about their local animal control) that THEIR tax dollars are paying for this service- if they are not happy with how they’re being utilized, attend your city hall meetings, and vote accordingly

        1. Agreed. The Minneapolis and St. Paul Animal Controls, as well as those of several suburbs here, are better advocates for dogs and cats than our huge “non-profit” Animal Humane Society. I wish the problem were reversed, because it is so hard to get anything done against a private organization that does not have board meetings open to the public! But the rescue community around here LOVES our animal control folks, who really work with us.

        2. well- except for the fact that St. Paul Animal Control does not adopt out pitbulls to the public (although it does release them to rescues).
          And with AHS right next door to SPAC, they are able to provide vet services when SPAC receives animals that are injured and need medical treatment. As far as i understand, SPAC and the St. Paul AHS have a really close working relationship

        3. oh, also, SPAC has HORRIBLE hours for the public- but i know that’s because of budget cuts and they do a great job with what they have

        4. Anne: I don’t necessarily disagree with SPAC’s refusal to adopt pit bulls directly to the public. They have limited resources, as you say, and I don’t know how they would do appropriate screening unless they took $ away from something else. The relationship between SPAC and AHS has waxed & waned over the years I’ve been following it, although SPAC is always quite diplomatic.

          And the fact remains that AHS, even with fudged numbers, admits to killing over 40% of the animals it takes in despite a $17M/yr budget while importing animals from all over the country. Many of us rescue folks have been trying to get them to adopt the No-Kill Equation but so far, not much progress.

        5. according to their 2009 Annual Report they only euthanized 33%- which was a 7% reduction in their rate of euthanasia (their 2010 report doesn’t appear to be out yet). Do you have evidence that supports the claim of 40% (or the ‘fudged numbers’)?
          Also- $17 million seems high to me (but i was unable to verify either way)- do you have a source for that number?

          And i understand they’re opening a subsidized spay/neuter clinic this spring and recently moved to relinquishment by appt- both of those seem like huge steps towards NKE. What specific changes would you like to see next?

      2. My locla shelter IS the one run by AC – but they have tons of great programs in place and work on adoptions. They do “Mingle with the Mutts” twice a month on the weekends – giving the working population a chance to see what animals are available, and the rescues also participate. We also have behavior classes, low cost vet services, spay & neutered programs in place. While they do not adopt out “pit bulls” many of the ACO’s are great and will list the dogs as mixed breeds so that they have a chance out making it out alive. They work with MANY different rescues – willingly and openly. They are a great bunch of people that really do want the animals to find homes. I am VERY thankful to not have some of the same problems that it appears so many have with their AC department. Do I think they could do more – definitely, there is always room for improvement!

      3. Anne: Easy info to find. Their form 990 is here:

        I shouldn’t rely on my memory. In fact, they have $22M in assets. They list their annual expenses as having gone from $11M the previous year to just under $6M in FY 2010. Puzzling – I’ll have to look more closely some time.

        Fudged numbers I have seen personally, as have a lot of volunteers I know. For instance, when they transfer an animal from one of their shelters to another, they list that as an adoption. When an animal comes in DOA, that also is counted as one. Perhaps they’ve cleaned up their act on that in the last year, but I’ve no evidence of that.

        I hope we’re done with this thread digression. I didn’t want Anne to go unanswered.

    17. If the wildly exaggerated numbers reported in the article were even close to reality, all the spay/neuter clinics might as well close their doors and go home because they’ll never make a dent in the
      population anyway. Truth is spay/neuter has an enormous impact locally and nationally because the real numbers are much smaller. Winograd’s math is fine with me. And spay/neuter is far too important to lie about.

    18. “[Spay-neuter] is the only answer to achieving a no-kill status in animal shelters in this country.”

      With all due respect,the ONLY answer to achieving a No Kill status in animal shelters, is for shelter operators to STOP KILLING pets in their so called “shelters”.

      If every shelter director decided today, to stop the killing, THERE WILL BE NO MORE KILLING OF ANIMALS IN SHELTERS, AND WE WILL BE A NO KILL NATION.

      The only reason why pets are being killed in “shelters” is because “shelters” are killing them.

      It’s really very easy to understand.

      TNR Programs keep 85% of cats out of shelters to begin with, which allows “more room” for other animals, and gives the animals in the shelter a better chance of being adopted before “kill time”.

      Foster Programs, allow more animals to be placed in shelters, without killing those already there.

      Friendly relations with rescuers or laws (Like Oreo’s Law) would allow countless animals to be rescued and saved.

      Increasing Adopathons, with some creative touches such as raffles, and prizes, and lollipops and popcorn for all would bring out many people, increasing the adoption rate infinitely.

      The list goes on and on.

      Go to the No Kill Advocacy Center’s website, and read The No-Kill Equation.


      Bottom line: There is a large HUMAN ANIMAL overpopulation problem in this world. Kids in Africa are starving, suffering. Bathing in feces coated water.

      Kids in poor neighborhoods suffer, and get hit over the head for their Nikes.

      Adults are getting high blood pressure and diabetes from all the stress of the poor economy.
      Life is hard. It gets rough.

      Is anyone here in support of “euthanizing” humans?

      I didnt think so.







      Yet again, we have come to the root of this problem: SPECIESISM.

      Get over yourselves, my fellow human animals….you eat, sleep, drink and poop like everyone else.

      Live and let live instead of hiding this “My kind is better than your kind” Speciesist B.S. deep in your consciousness, as you try to excuse the killings, or sugar coat them.

      Murder is murder. Killing a healthy living individual person (4 legged or 2 legged) is ethically criminal, because it is EVERYBODY’S birth right to LIVE, LOVE and to be LOVED.

      That is the ultimate correct answer to this whole problem.

      Humans need to unlearn what they have learned (the “We are “supreme” beings, better than others”, bullpoop)

      Whites thought they were better than blacks. They were wrong. Blacks have rights.

      Men thought they were better than women. They were wrong. Women have rights.

      Humans think they are better than their fellow animals. They are wrong. It is time to give Animals rights, to protect them from the speciesist frauds who think they were given an invisible “Play God” license from Heaven.

      Then we’ll be No Kill.

      P.S. Spay/neuter is very important and is part of the No Kill Equation, but you cannot spay/neuter your way out of killing. That’s just what the money hungry businessmen/women in “animal rescue” t-shirts want you to think, because it continues the cycle of death, and allows them to stay in busines indefinitely.

      1. I agree with MOST of what you are saying EXCEPT when you added in that it is time to give animals rights. I believe they have a right to live, be fed properly, get the exercise they need, to have a decent roof over their heads, receive vet care as needed, basic care standards. But, as far as giving them rights – they borders to far to the animal rights mentality. If we give animals “rights” like that then any animal rights group will tell you that you no longer ‘own’ your pet and as a result they can step in and remove said animal without your consent and the group can take you to court on behalf of the animal(s) in question. I believe they are entitled to the right to live and have their needs tended to – but they do not have rights like a person: can’t pay taxes, can they? AND if we establish them as having rights and us not being their owner I dont’ see how anyone can come in and say we aren’t doing right by our animals – because we don’t own them how can we be sued if the animal in question bites someone? By not owning the animal then I can’t be responsible if the dog does bite someone and the person who got bite would have to sue my dog for what it did – not me.

        The entire debate over ownership vs guardianship is HUGE. I technically ‘own’ my pets but think that it is my responsibility to take care of them the best way I see fit. I don’t need a group to tell me when/if I should spay & neuter my pets. I don’t need a group to tell my to declaw or not declaw my cats. I don’t need a group to have unlimited access to my house whenever they choose.

        When it comes to animals rights we must tread carefully, otherwise we are opening the door for big grousp like HSUS to do as they please with our pets. And that’s where I get upset.

    19. Every intelligent solution I have seen includes several different areas of action that need to all be implemented together to actually solve the problem. No Kill includes S/N programs. Owner responsibility is absolutely necessary for any program to succeed. The shelter system must change from the current model to one of nice, clean adoption centers featuring animals living together communally, the way that they would naturally choose to live. Real Rehab, socialization and even basic training should all be part of the adoption centers . The better behaved the animals are,the more likely they are to be adopted, and stay adopted. Better socialization and Rehab means less animals are returned to the shelters by unhappy adopters. There will always be people who want to buy specific breeds and not adopt. I do think that pet stores should only offer shelter/rescue animals and never offer any from a puppy mill. Puppy mills need to end totally.
      A combination of these actions is required to successfully change the current mess we have now. It is not just S/N, or owner responsibility, or Puppy Mills, or the shelters. The solution is using every tool we have together. People need to put their egos to the side and work together to solve this as quickly as they can.

      1. I tend to agree with the majority of what you say – but the community living somewhat scares me. I never leave my dogs & cats free run of the house while I am gone. Although I know that they all get along..there is always the chance that one of the dogs might decide to go after one of the cats just because they can. So that one’s a tricky point.

        I also still have a problem with the “puppy mill” label – while I get it that people who have a zillion dogs that never leave their cages and all that…according to HSUS if you have just 1 litter then you are a puppy mill. So that’s more thin ice to walk across.

        We need definitive defining of the terms that are thrown around so loosely – “puppy mill”, “backyard breeder”, “factory farm” and “hoarder”. Once we have a definitive definition to go along with the terms we are all left up to our own interpretation as to what each means, which leaves us ALL open to being labeled as ANY of those.

        1. dogs live with dogs, cats with cats.
          They would not all be together. They would be checked to be sure they are socialized and they play well with others. Those who can not will go to rehab where they will be taught to play nicely. Of course, some cats and some dogs will not even be able to be rehabbed and they would go to special fosters who can handle animals with that disposition.

        2. Would this facility have a staff member there 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week/ 365 days a year??? Even housing dogs with dogs and cats with cats…I would be concerned about leaving them alone when no one is there to supervise them.

        3. In my area there are a few shelters that do have free roaming animals – cats with cats and dogs with dogs and no they don’t have someone there 24/7/365. But they haven’t had any major issues either – animals that do not get along with others are separated out. They make an effort to house animals that will get along with each other together. Most of these shelters have more then one big room so they can move the alphas to their own area so everyone is happy.


        4. Daniela –
          How do they handle it when there is a ‘new’ animal? I mean – as far as introduction and making sure that they will get along ok? I worry about housing dogs together due to the whole pack mentality that can ‘sometimes’ occur, especially when introducing a new animal into the group. Just something that I want to find out more about…..

        5. HI Erica,
          All animals are quarantined for 2 weeks before they are allowed to be either adopted or in with the other animals. So that gives the caretakers time to evaluate the animal’s personality and decide which other animals they would get along best with. They also keep the sizes of the “packs” down – the dogs tend to be put into runs with one other dog and the cats are about 10 -15 in their rooms. I don’t volunteer with the dogs so I am not sure exactly how they handle it but with the cats the new one is put into a cage and it stays in there for a few days just to make sure everyone is doing okay before it is released fully into the room. There is a caretaker who lives next to the shelter so if there is a ruckus with the dogs they would hear and come running, but there is noone on staff 24/7/365.

          I don’t see it as that much different then a home situation – I am not home 24/7 and have multiple pets and they get along for the most part. And I know I gave far less consideration to personality matches when I adopted then a shelter would.


    20. In the adoption Center Model in the Shelter Revolution group on FB,Yes,a human is present 24/7, 365 days a year. Since the pack will always be changing,with new dogs coming in and others leaving to adoptions, an adoption
      center worker would be present at all times.
      This is a common sense solution – and the answers should make sense to you.
      Please read it in detail when you have a chance. Let me know what you think.

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