We've heard the claptrap from the animal rights groups about how "every responsible breeder is a puppy miller, every family farmer is factory farmer, and every responsible hunter is a poacher."
But I'd like to step up right here and now and announce that:
EVERY ANIMAL OWNER IS A RESPONSIBLE OWNER
That's right! You are responsible for your animal. You are responsible to care for him, to protect him from suffering, and to nurture him.
The law also regards you as responsible for the actions of your animal. If your animal is roaming at large and causing problems, again, you are going to be the one who must make restitution, and pay any fees or fines.
When it comes to pets, we are a nation of responsible owners. According to the latest pet population survey for 2011-2012, There are 164.6 million owned dogs and cats in the US.
And further, 39% of all households own at least one dog, and 33% of all households own at least one cat.
That's a lot of responsible owners!
But wait! You say. Not everyone is responsible. Some people discard their pets. Some people neglect or abuse them. What about THOSE people? I am responsible, but others may not be as ethical or conscientious an owner as I am, right?
Sure, there are always a few bad apples in the barrel....people who intentionally abuse or neglect their animals. I believe those folks to be a distinct minority. And, as it turns out, judging by animal shelter statistics, they are only about 2% of all pet owners in the US.
About 6-8 million animals sift through shelters every year; many are unowned feral cats, and about 20% are repeat customers (offenders?). About 10% are dead when picked up (going by California statistics). Considerably less than half are from a bad ownership situation. But calculated out, and figuring on the high end of 4 million per year, this means that only about 2% of all animals that are owned, will end up in a shelter in a given year. And some of those are taken there specifically for humane, end-of-life euthanasia.
Consider further that many animals enter shelters not due to "irresponsibilty" but due to social problems like loss of a job or home foreclosure, or incapacity/death of the owner. So no sense trying to point the finger of blame at those situations. Life happens. We pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and learn from our experiences. That is, after all, the responsible course of action, and it is the natural self-evolution we all undergo as we progress through this life.
We as humans love our animals. We as Americans are responsible animal owners. It's as simple as that.