Pet Overpopulation

posted April 30th, 2016 by
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Pet Overpopulation – What is the Answer?

By Kim Schlittler

Each week we hear about cats and dogs needing homes. Every cage and kennel in the animal shelters has a pet or two (or more) in it. Rescue groups and foster homes are full, so it’s difficult for them to take in another pet until one is adopted.
Pets are adopted every day. Some shelters and groups are very creative with their promotions seeking adopters. Mega adoption events are held several times a year with rescue groups and shelters coming together to find homes for hundreds of pets in a few days.
Yet the pet overpopulation problem continues. Last year, the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter alone took in 25,000 cats and dogs. More than 14,000 pets were adopted, reclaimed by their owners or transferred to rescue groups. Sadly, 10,300 pets were euthanized for various reasons. Pet owners failed to look in the shelter for their lost pets or, tragically, waited too long to look. Pet owners surrendered their pets, thinking a behavior problem was a lost cause. Not enough potential adopters thought of the shelter as a place to adopt a pet. And some pets were too ill or too aggressive to be adopted.
Of the 10,300 pets euthanized, 3,800—more than one-third—were puppies and kittens whose only crime was being born into a community where not enough people wanted to adopt young pets. These numbers are repeated on a lesser scale at animal shelters throughout the state.
With so many companion animals and too few adopting homes, what is the answer? The best answer is spaying and neutering.
Every pet lover likes to know someone is helping homeless pets. Best Friends of Pets seeks to prevent pets from becoming homeless and part of these statistics. Its spay/neuter program, which offers two low-cost, high-quality opportunities for pet owners to have their pets spayed or neutered, helps keep pets in their homes and prevents unplanned births of puppies and kittens. More than 6,000 cats and dogs were spayed or neutered in 2014 through the program.
SpayWay of Oklahoma City offers spay/ neuter, vaccinations, canine and feline tests, and microchipping. Spay/neuter fees are $30 for cats and $40 for dogs. Rescue groups and pet owners with a gross household income of $50,000 or less can call SpayWay at (405) 414-8142 for an appointment. SpayWay also goes mobile during the year and spays or neuters pets in towns throughout the state.
Cost is often the biggest reason why pets are not spayed or neutered. “We find people are tired of their pet having litter after litter of puppies or kittens, and they are excited when they can afford our services. One dog had eight litters of puppies—all accidents—in four years. Even the neighbor was excited when they found out about our low-cost spaying and neutering.”
Low-income pet owners receiving Medicaid, OKDHS or SSI (Supplemental Security Income) benefits, or meeting Best Friends of Pets’ income guidelines, can have cats spayed or neutered for $10 and dogs for $20 through its Spay/Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP).
General public assistance is also available based on income. Rabies vaccinations are $5 and are only offered when the pet is spayed or neutered. SNAP works with veterinary and nonprofit spay/neuter clinics throughout the Oklahoma City metro area. For more information about SNAP or to request a SNAP application, call (405) 418-8511 or visit www.bestfriendsofpets.org.
Puppies and kittens as young as 8 weeks or weighing at least 2 pounds can be spayed or neutered. In addition to preventing un-planned litters of puppies and kittens, spaying and neutering makes dogs less likely to roam or bite, ends yowling by cats in heat, and makes cats less likely to spray and mark their territory. Pet owners often find their pets are more calm and affectionate after being spayed or neutered.
Schlittler says now is a great time to have a pet spayed or neutered. Spring is just around the corner. With the flowers blooming, windy days and people enjoying outdoor activities also comes the arrival of stray and abandoned puppies and kittens.
Animal shelters and animal welfare groups refer to this as ‘puppy and kitten season,’ a heartbreaking time of year. Now is a great time to have a pet spayed or neutered to ensure that unplanned litter is avoided.
Best Friends of Pets is a local nonprofit organization that began in 1994 under a similar name to help increase pet adoptions and improve conditions for pets at the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter. In 2005, Best Friends of Pets started its Spay/Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP), the first year-round community spay/neuter program of its kind in the Oklahoma City area.
In 2006, Best Friends changed its adoption program to work with small groups and individuals who rescue and foster pets until they are adopted. Best Friends of Pets strives to reduce the pet overpopulation problem of too many homeless pets by helping pets, their owners and our community.

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