So, what's the real truth behind pet overpopulation?

ravennr

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#1
Seems to be it depends entirely on who you're talking to as to whether or not the issue is as bad as people like PeTA and HSUS and ASPCA would like you to believe.

Me, personally, while I believe there is a problem, I do not believe it is serious enough that it warrants things like PeTA's mass-slaughter, or the ASPCA trying to pass the bill to put down dogs and cats for being too stressed when they come into the shelters and rescues. It can't be too bad if the HSUS sends out recommended guidelines, brainwashing shelter workers into thinking that the general public is full of horrible people out to adopt animals only to abuse them, turning down perfectly great homes and allowing pets to suffer or die. My belief gets backed up by people working in the rescue world, particularly regular old animal control staff and people in charge of general shelter services for a district (such as the article here seems to illustrate very nicely).

I simply don't buy the typical claim that there aren't enough homes. I definitely believe there are nowhere near enough homes that are up to the standards of an animal rights organization, obviously, but considering the goal of animal rights is to get rid of pets all together, that's not that surprising. The guidelines HSUS says must be executed by a good shelter, coupled with the MSN and anti-breeder laws, illustrate that point quite clearly, but unfortunately the general public is naive; they are blinded by sad commercials showing animals in horrible situations (99% of the time they are not even in the shelter yet, either, which really bothers me) and guilt-tripping viewers with celebrity endorsements and sad music.

For a country full of so many people who claim that everyone is so blind to things like the government and their fellow-citizens, Americans sure do seem to really eat up this bullcrap spewed by well-disguised organizations (which is sick considering those same people will often jump up to talk about how horrible and unethical PeTA actually is! :rolleyes:).


But anyway, that's my view/rant on the issue.
TL;DR, I don't believe the overpopulation problem is as bad as commercials on television try to make the world think it is, and I am much more inclined to believe people who aren't brainwashed and jaded and work in the rescue world on the front lines and beyond.

:popcorn:
 

Picklepaige

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#2
Depends on the area, IMO. A lot of shelters in the north will have FIGHTS over a young, friendly dog.

My shelter gets in 100+ 8-week-old kittens/puppies a day (NOT including adult animals) and we couldn't even give most of them away. The only way we can avoid putting them down is transporting them to the north, where puppies aren't common.

Shelters in the north rarely have a single young pup come in. It is a rare occurance that my shelter's puppy room isn't completely full with litters.

So, I would say the south DOES have an overpopulation problem, while most of the north doesn't.
 

Fran101

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#3
There is certainly a problem.. like the post above. Miami's public shelter gets in over 100 animals a day (MOST of those being puppies/young dogs) and there is a very high kill rate

Are there enough homes in TOTAL? I'm sure.
but the issue on how to spread homeless animals/get them where they are needed and getting shelters/rescues to work together on adopting to GOOD HOMES (albeit not perfect homes) .. is a big issue.
 

Aleron

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#4
PETA, HSUS and ASPCA don't want you to know that the situation with dogs in shelters/pounds in the US has been steadily improving for decades now. It isn't good for business ;) "Overpopulation"or more so, too many dogs dumped and too little resources to get them adopted is a problem in some areas but in other areas, shelters would be empty if not bringing in dogs from elsewhere. The number of dogs killed in shelters every year has continued to decline. The number of dogs adopted or reunited with their families has continued to increase. Things are getting better...it's just not ok to say so ;)

Here's an interesting blog post about this subject: http://www.nathanwinograd.com/?p=1390

And a longer article: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2007/10/02/petscol.DTL
 

ravennr

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#5
Mostly, I just mean in the US in general, since America is painted as having such horrible numbers, and that they are 'the worst they have ever been' (absolutely untrue, anyway).

I'm sure we could spread these animals out if we put less time into advertising about overpopulation, and more time and money into setting up rescue railroads/transport services. I'm always happily stunned when I see a group pop up that offers transport services to other rescues or adoptive families (provided the shelter is willing to adopt out of their general area), but honestly, I don't think that I should have to be stunned to see that. I think that should be the norm. I would join a rescue train in a heartbeat if I could, and I intend to as soon as I have a car and figure out what I need to do to start driving again here since I'm pretty sure my license isn't valid in this country any longer. I see a lot of people who can help though, and say they would like to and trail off with various excuses, but few that actually do anything.

As long as AR groups are feeding in ideas to so many shelters, though, I don't see how the issue with them not communicating and being so strict can get any better. Of course they have to be willing, but getting the brainwashing out of the way needs to be the first step.

This is an article I found (one of the ONLY articles specifically on this subject when you do a google search, unfortunately, the rest are mostly AR pages) on an *under*population issue in the United States.
http://spanieljournal.com/33lbaughan.html
I did some more searches into those numbers as well; interesting how they aren't given out freely by any of those organizations, or even shelters. The only numbers I have ever seen given out are very, very general. "MILLIONS OF PETS EVERY YEAR" in big bold letters accompanied by a sad photo, and the claim that this is the worst it's ever been and the only way to fix it is MSN and punishing breeders regardless of their practices, to treat them all as puppy mills and BYBs, and be ultra strict with placement (I'm not sure how this last part helps with overpopulation and I doubt anyone who suggests it is either).
 

StillandSilent

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#6
I live in rural NC, and our county euthanasia rate is about 5,000 a year, with our shelter pulling 1500. This includes puppies, kittens, purebred dogs, mutts, just about everything you can imagine. So, yes, I would say that we have an overpopulation problem.

But I don't think we're overpopulated with the 'right' dogs. You can always find pits, hounds, large generic dogs. We don't have an abundance of purebred yorkies, chihuahuas, and english bulldogs, which is what the demand is for. You can still get a nice dog that weighs less then 15lbs, but thats not what a lot of people are asking for.
 

Paige

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#7
Our SPCAs are not accepting anymore cats up here because they are so overrun. Dogs not so much to be entirely honest but we have enough cats! Especially old ones with some health issues or behavioral problems. No one wants them.

I would not say we are overrun with dogs though at all. Our shelters are not huge. There are maybe 10-20 dogs the odd time I pop my head in at the shelter. Also some in fosters. I'm grateful I don't live in an area where 100+ dogs go in and get put down daily. That's insane to me!
 
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#8
At my work I find hounds sit the longest. Even longer than Pits. We have hound puppies that take forever to get adopted, but you better believe the Boston Terrier puppy we had was gone inside of a day, same with the Husky. Nearly ALL of our hounds and puppies come from down south via the Rescue Waggin. We're a "no kill" shelter which really translates to low kill. I think the biggest problem at this place is the price. We are fairly pricey for rescue and I think more people would adopt if they were startled by the price tag. I volunteer for another rescue with MUCH stricter adoption requirements (ours at work seem to be.. well, meh) and generally reasonable fees and they see many more adoptions.
 

misfitz

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#9
I agree it's all about where you are geographically. Also, the nature of the local animal control agency will have an impact on the numbers in any given area.

One thing I worry about is stray pets that don't get reunited with their owners. I think we can do a *much* better job of this, and it would help immensely. The HSUS etc. propaganda has the general public assuming that any stray animal must have been "dumped" "abandoned" or "abused" and little to no effort is put into finding the owner. The animal is immediately dropped into the rescue stream. Makes me sad. :( I'd be LIVID if that happened to my dog or cat. Finders have a reponsability, I believe, to try their best to reunite lost pets with their owners. That includes shelters and the public.
 

thehoundgirl

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#10
Yeah, I honestly think the south has the worst pet overpopulation. I live in Northwest Montana and work at the shelter. We hardly get pups in, we usually get dogs 9 months and up as far as young dogs go. We can only provide space for so many dogs and cats so do not usually accept owner turn ins. We have atleast 17 dogs right now and 100 and some cats which we have 3 rooms for.

Pit bulls, Labs, and Hounds are the hardest to find homes for here. Even the herders as well. In my town, a lot of people want smaller dogs and when we have small dogs they usually go quick.

Almost everyone wants a kitten, not a young adult or older cat. We usually don't get a lot of moms and kittens in in the Spring. We have a few good foster homes for orphaned kittens if they come in. Usually never pups, though.

We have a good adoption and reclaim rate, which is good as we are only low kill. Plus, there is a spay & neuter clinic every month in my town, so the pet overpopulation is cut down some but we still get plenty of strays in in a week.
 

Kat09Tails

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#11
I believe there is a serious population problem with pit bulls that breeders are refusing to address. There are not enough homes, the shelters here can't give them away and we have some of the best adoption rates in the country.

For most other breeds - at least here in the northwest there is strong demand for friendly young and not so young dogs. I wish we could life flight these dogs from Florida to the Northwest because they'd seriously be in and out in a matter of minutes at some of our local shelters. Right now we import highly adoptable dogs in from as far away as Mexico and PR.
 

mkj2013

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#12
I thoroughly believe Nathan Winograd's theory on pet over population.

Winograd's argument is simply this: Based on data from the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, the Pet Food Manufacturers Association, and the latest census, there are more than enough homes for every dog and cat being killed in shelters every year. In fact, when I spoke to him for this article, he told me that there aren't just enough homes for the dogs and cats being killed in shelters. There are more homes for cats and dogs opening each year than there are cats and dogs even entering shelters.

He's not suggesting this is really nothing but a numbers game, though. "When I argue that pet overpopulation is a myth, I'm not saying that we can all go home," he said. "And I'm not saying that there aren't certain people who are irresponsible with their animals. And I'm not saying that there aren't a lot of animals entering shelters. Again, I'm not saying that it wouldn't be better if there were fewer of them being impounded. But it does mean that the problem is not insurmountable and it does mean that we can do something short of killing for all savable animals today."

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2007/10/02/petscol.DTL#ixzz1rK9a2APe
 

Laurelin

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#13
I think there's a few issues here. I do think around Texas (where I volunteered for years) there was an overpopulation of certain kinds of dogs. Pits, hounds, labs- those types. Certain breeds would go the instant we got them, mostly small dogs, there was no danger of a small dog being euthed like a big dog. So I don't think there's an overpopulation- there's enough people for the number of dogs in rescue however the dogs in rescue generally aren't the same thing as the dogs people want. If people are looking for a small poodle mix, they're not going to adopt a hound or a pit. There needs to be (imo) a shift in what's being bred.

There's also the issue that shelters can have policies that are totally counter-productive. I think there's a lot of room in many shelters to implement policies that will get adoption rates higher. Ex: Not euthing based on breed. Staying open longer hours. Utilizing petsmart and other store adoption days. And much more.
 

CharlieDog

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#14
Almost every shelter near me will only adopt pit bulls and mixes thereof to rescue groups. Consequently, they end up euth'ing nearly every pit bull and possible pit bull mix that comes through their doors. Its disgusting. And I don't know what half the "mixes" actually are, it seems so arbitrary to say "oh well this is a boxer mix and this is an English lab mix, see the blocky head?? But this is a pit bull mix, so we have to get a rescue to come pull this one."

I don't understand that. Even though the shelters around here aren't over flowing (and in fact the Atlanta humane society is almost always nearly empty) like I've heard about in other places, there is a ton of "pit bulls" and pit mixes and Labrador crosses and German shepherd mixes and chow mixes and generic hound mixes who's only crime is not being small enough, or being a black dog in a shelter or just being hyperactive or having some sort of training issue.

The little dogs don't last here either, even older ones. Unique looking dogs don't last. Purebreds don't either, unless they're again, hound dogs, chows or pit bulls. Purebred looking Labradors don't last either (well, the ones that look like "English labs") not in the metro areas anyway.

Further south and west in the rural area, where you find all kinds of Heinz 57 mutts with no distinctive heritage they sit longer, get killed more often, get picked up more often than in metro areas. If we could ship them all north, it would work itself out.
 

ravennr

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#15
I did a poll on my other forum about what people thought, and asked them to explain why they chose the answer they did. Unanimously, anyone that chose to explain their answer chose the poll option that said "I believe there is an overwhelming population problem and it is the worst it has ever been" and posted their reasoning as being "the ASPCA commercials on television", that was it aside from a single person who replied saying that they gathered that opinion based on the stories they heard from rescue workers they were related to. Not a single person could tell me what commercial told them how many animals were put down, or what organization gave that information. The only information they could recall was the Sara Mnoteventryingtospellthat commercial with the horribly sad pictures and tear-jerking video.

I was amazed. That forum is a forum for younger people, and it's the younger generations that are going to be moving into this line of work and taking it over. How can we expect to have anyone come in and understand what's going on if they accept a position based solely on a single commercial? The only saving grace from that poll is that MOST of the votes said that they either believed that there is a population problem however it is slightly exaggerated, or that they believe the population problem is not as bad as people generally think and that there are enough homes (technically speaking of course).


I definitely believe the issue is more serious with cats, however. The numbers aren't as bad as they once were, or would be had we not gone in and altered feral cat communities. People like Ingrid Newkirk still tell people, though, that feral cat communities are only a problem because nobody takes care of them, which I find to be absolutely ridiculous considering they have been around for ages without having a human set down food for them; she acts like they are completely helpless which is quite strange coming from the woman that wants all human contact with animals to be stopped entirely. Here, however, my local shelter just adopted out over 100 cats in less than a month. I believe the number ended up being about 150 give or take (with a few dozen dogs adopted in that time too, which is great considering they usually only have about 8 dogs in the facility at any one time, quite a few of which have been there for a long while, some even since I moved here). They made about double their adoption goal in just a few weeks, and all they did was drop their fees and loosen up on their guidelines. For a shelter that adopts out as many cats and kittens as they do every single spring come kitten season, I was extremely impressed with how many animals they placed in what they said to be their slowest time of the year. I know this is Canada, but why can't this be done elsewhere? They made more money by lowering the fees for that month, than they would have if they hadn't lowered them at all in a 3 month period. That is AMAZING.

Overpopulation isn't anywhere near as big of an issue, from my observance, in Canada as in America. We don't constantly talk about it here, I've never been bombarded with any sad commercials or pamphlets or spiels from rescue or shelter workers that I've spoken to, and the staff in the shelters I've been into genuinely seemed happy to be working with the people looking to adopt, not just the animals themselves. That was very new for me. I'm used to shelter staff being very irritable and writing off all people that come in as just another neglectful home. Here, shelters and rescues seem to be able to communicate, and dogs and cats are shipped from one end of the country to the other and all places in between, and put where they will get the best chance at finding a home. Sure, it's not a utopia, and animals still get put down, but it will NEVER be a utopia. People know it will never be a utopia, and they seem to let that discourage them and take the wheel to just make those people very catty and hopeless about the entire situation. As if making it better is not good enough and they can only ever be happy until no pet is ever put down at all. I'm sorry, that is just not realistic. Why not just look at the numbers, how much they have reduced over the decades, and accept the fact that people ARE making a difference? And, the best part is, they did it without MSN laws! Education is what dropped those numbers, as far as I'm concerned. And it is what will continue to drop them. Education and communication.


I'm just a little stunned at some of the reactions I've been seeing outside of my regular animal communities on this issue. We have to be real; we make up a very small portion of the population, even of pet owners. Us talking about it won't do anything. The moderate pet owners and the shelters have to talk about it too, and they have to want to learn and change how things are done. Without that, yeah, I guess we might as well throw in the towel if we want to ever see another significant drop in numbers of pets killed each year, and want to be told how to raise our animals (or rather, told we are not fit to raise animals at all). I don't really see how anything is going to get done, otherwise. And really, this goes for anywhere that has population problems, or shelter communication issues.
 

crazedACD

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#16
Up here, if it's not a pit, doesn't have issues, and it's not a cat, it usually gets adopted. Hell people are paying somewhere around $500 to get a dog from the south transported up here. They need a better system, get 50 up here by the truckload. I saw one article where they brought like 8 dogs and 4 cats or something...really? Seems like a waste.. Load em up!

There are some municipals (Hartford CT dog pound, for instance) that are still stuck in the old days and only give 10 days before they are to be put to sleep if room needs to be made. I do think there might be more problems under the radar though, as each town has it's own ACO versus a county or city shelter. Who knows what each ACO does with the dogs they pick up. I'm sure some are shifted to the shelters and rescue groups but the ACO job is a nice paycheck for someone who might not care. They might only get a handful of dogs a month though, certainly not many.

When I lived in FL it was pretty horrible. Animal services had a euth rate of 100 dogs and cats per day, although sick and unadoptable were included in that. But, the kennels were always chock full and they made room where necessary. Any owner-surrendered cat was PTS, typically...it was extremely difficult to walk through the 'back room' and see wall to floor crates with cats awaiting the inevitable. I guess there isn't as much of a problem with dogs as you would think, but cats definitely have a tough time of it. This was 2006ish, perhaps it's gotten better.

I still think they should do euthanasia in a glass building on the side of the highway. Streaming videos on the billboards or online. Maybe it's PETA-ish (and would be painting shelters in a bad light), but knowing it happens and seeing it for yourself are two totally different things. I could see something like that making people take a step back from surrendering that hyper lab x or saying hey, maybe I should neuter my cat.
 

Lyzelle

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#17
I think my mindset is that it depends on the area - and then, the type of dogs that are popular in that area.

In Memphis, I would have absolutely said there was an overpopulation issue...especially of pits and labs. They were just everywhere...streets, craigslist, shelters, dozens at a time in homes. The city was having some dog disease outbreak at least 90% of the time, and the shelters used it as an excuse to euth all their animals. Never helped. Put down 50, and there's another 70 coming in. And of course the outbreaks killed dozens if not hundreds of pet dogs, too. But it never even made a dent in the population.

But in this area? Most definitely not an issue. In fact, DH and I are actually having MAJOR issues trying to find a rescue dog or even a rehome. They are no where to be found. We've had to look 100+ miles out to even find a somewhat decent population of dogs without homes. HUSofWM just adopted out over 150 dogs and cats...in TWO days in Missoula area alone. Homes are definitely not scarce.

I figure it might be similar in other areas. Some areas are going to be bad, some are going to be worse, but others aren't going to be bad at all, or zero overpopulation issue. In the end, I think it really evens out...I don't think it's nearly as bad as commercials, shelters, and rescues say it is. And, of course, they scream about overpopulation all day long, but they're standards are so high....they are drinking their own poison, so to speak.
 

Whisper

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#18
It does definitely vary by area. Here there is definitely an overpopulation of pit bulls. Whether there are too many pit bulls or too many people that don't want to adopt one, I don't know. I do know I've been to several local shelters and it most areas it's wall-to-wall pit bulls, with markings on their kennel cards indicating their adoption fees have been reduced every week. It breaks my heart.
There was a major bust of a puppy mill (it was huge enough someone posted on Chaz about it, actually), and our humane society filled with chihuahuas, papillons, Japanese chins, and some other small breeds. It was like doggy Black Friday. People were lined up, shoving each other, yelling, etc. Usually people can go in the kennels and look at the dogs and cats as they please, but when the small dogs came they had to issue a signed piece of paper to give to a certain amount of people to see the dogs at a time. I was a dog walker and I went out of bounds just so I could avoid the people seeing me with a dog and a name tag and being trampled with questions- "How many are there?" "When can I go in?" "Will there be any left?" "This isn't fair!" "I've been waiting for an hour!" "I was told I would get a call when they got a chihuahua in- why didn't they tell me?" Obviously in this area there's usually quite a shortage of small dogs, but not of lab mixes, hound mixes, pit bull types, and other large mixes. (Large purebreds do go much faster.) The local pound has issued a new policy in the last couple of months- forget the $85 adoption fee for those dogs, just pay for the license fee and make a donation of any amount you want, even $5.
 

Pits&Pugs

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#19
I believe there is a serious population problem with pit bulls that breeders are refusing to address. There are not enough homes, the shelters here can't give them away and we have some of the best adoption rates in the country.

For most other breeds - at least here in the northwest there is strong demand for friendly young and not so young dogs. I wish we could life flight these dogs from Florida to the Northwest because they'd seriously be in and out in a matter of minutes at some of our local shelters. Right now we import highly adoptable dogs in from as far away as Mexico and PR.
Can you expand on this further?
 

Aleron

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#20
One thing I worry about is stray pets that don't get reunited with their owners. I think we can do a *much* better job of this, and it would help immensely. The HSUS etc. propaganda has the general public assuming that any stray animal must have been "dumped" "abandoned" or "abused" and little to no effort is put into finding the owner. The animal is immediately dropped into the rescue stream. Makes me sad. :( I'd be LIVID if that happened to my dog or cat. Finders have a reponsability, I believe, to try their best to reunite lost pets with their owners. That includes shelters and the public.
IME rescue and shelter workers rarely consider attempt to find an owner. Even if the dog has a collar. Even tattooed dogs. One shelter directer here told me that if one of my Belgians were to come into the shelter, no one would ever scan them for a microchip because "they don't look purebred". At this shelter, only obvious purebreds and dogs that look like dogs they've seen flyers for are scanned. I've talked to countless shelter and rescue workers in person and over the internet who felt similar, justifying it by saying if they scan the dog and find a chip it makes things more complicated for them. They have to try to get in contact with the owner, hold the dog longer, etc. Hounds with tattoos in their ears are assumed to be abandoned because they don't hunt well. And the vast majority will not contact breeders of the dogs, even if they get contact info when the dog is surrendered because "most breeders don't care".

I still think they should do euthanasia in a glass building on the side of the highway. Streaming videos on the billboards or online. Maybe it's PETA-ish (and would be painting shelters in a bad light), but knowing it happens and seeing it for yourself are two totally different things. I could see something like that making people take a step back from surrendering that hyper lab x or saying hey, maybe I should neuter my cat.
Because the majority of the general public is responsible for the death of animals in a shelter's care and therefore, must be punished and made to see what they have done (even if they've never surrendered a pet in their life)?
 

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