Sunday, September 11, 2011

The "Overpopulation" rhetoric continues....

Response to another article today that quotes inaccurate and misleading information from HSUS on purported pet "overpopulation":

The HSUS is NOT a reliable authority when it comes to pet welfare issues. They have a stated animal rights agenda and are not supportive of animal ownership. HSUS urges shelters to kill animals as soon as any mandatory holding period expires. HSUS lobbied against no-kill legislation in California and Texas. They urged the judge in the Vick case to kill all the dogs, even the puppies! Luckily, the judge did not listen and those dogs have been successfully re-homed. If that wasn’t enough, HSUS embraced Michael Vick; a man who brutally tortured, electrocuted, and drowned numerous dogs, who threw his “pets” into a fighting ring to be torn to bits….the HSUS thinks Vick should be allowed to own a pet, and have partnered up with him and used him in their fundraising efforts. DISGUSTING.

Pet “overpopulation” is a thing of the past. In fact, it was known as long ago as 1990 that the pendulum was swinging the other direction. In 1973, 20% of the pet population was killed in shelters. By 1990, that number had dropped to 4.5%, and as of surveys from 2010 and later, less than 2% of the pet population is killed in shelters. Many of those who are killed are irremediably ill, seriously injured, or brought into the shelter specifically for humane euthanasia. (1)

There are 21 million homes for pets opening up each and every year. These homes could easily absorb the estimated 3-4 million adoptable pets that the shelters instead CHOOSE to kill. Shelter managers need to do a better job of getting the pets to the people who would adopt them. (2)

In fact, many rescues import dogs from other countries, because so many shelters in the US do not have enough adoptable dogs to go around. (3)

And let’s put a stop to the mantra of spay-neuter everything that moves. In most other countries (for example the European nations), spay-neuter is rarely done unless medically necessary, and they don’t have rampant “overpopulation”. Regardless, in the US today, over 78% of all owned dogs and over 88% of all owned cats are already spayed or neutered. (4) 

Sterilization has many adverse health effects, including increased risk of many types of cancers. It exponentially increases the risk of osteosarcoma, which is extremely painful and invariably fatal. Sterilization greatly increases the risk of incontinence in females, bladder and prostate cancer in males, hypothyroidism, increased susceptibility to vaccine reactions; it increases noise phobias, fearfulness, and aggression toward humans. (5)

But perhaps the most sobering study from 2011 showed that females who kept their ovaries to the age of six years or later, or those who were never spayed, lived, on average, about 30% longer than those spayed at an earlier age. (6) You could have several more years with your female dog simply by keeping her intact. The one exception to this would be in breeds where there is a genetic predisposition to breast cancer. In those cases, early spay can be helpful to prevent breast cancer.

So let's stop repeating the silly notions that we have an overpopulation of pets and that we need to spay and neuter more. Both these theories have been disproven in numerous recent studies.

Referenced article:

(1) Pet UNderpopulation”:
(2) Debunking Pet Overpopulation:
(3) “It’s Raining Dogs…From Other Countries”.
(4) Source: American Pet Products Association 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey).
(6)Rottweiler Study Links Ovaries With Exceptional Longevity. JAVMA article March 2010

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