Shelter Dog
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Every day in the United States, thousands upon thousands of puppies and kittens are born because of the uncontrolled breeding of pets. Add to that number the offspring of stray and abandoned companion animals, and the total becomes even more staggering. Every year, between six and eight million dogs and cats enter U.S. shelters; some three to four million of these animals are euthanized because there are not enough homes for them.

Too many companion animals competing for too few good homes is the most obvious consequence of uncontrolled breeding. However, there are other equally tragic problems that result from pet overpopulation: the transformation of some animal shelters into "warehouses," the acceptance of cruelty to animals as a way of life in our society, and the stress that caring shelter workers suffer when they are forced to euthanize one animal after another. Living creatures have become throwaway items to be cuddled when cute and abandoned when inconvenient. Such disregard for animal life pervades and erodes our culture.

You Can Help

Spay or neuter your pets

Learn how to help feral cats

Volunteer at your local animal shelter

Adopt a pet

Abandoned and stray companion animals who survive in the streets and alleys of cities and suburbs pose a health threat to humans and other animals. Homeless companion animals get into trash containers, defecate in public areas or on private lawns, and anger citizens who have no understanding of their misery or their needs. Some of these animals scare away or prey upon wildlife—such as birds—or frighten small children.

The public health epidemic of dog bites—which number more than 4.5 million each year—is due in part to uncontrolled breeding of pets. Bites by so-called dangerous dogs have drawn an enormous amount of media attention, and fatalities caused by dangerous dogs are a serious concern. Often, the vicious tendencies found in some dog breeds can be attributed to irresponsible breeding without regard for temperament. Neutering can help reduce this aggressive behavior.

Clearly, pet overpopulation is not just a problem for the animals or for the shelters involved. Each year communities are forced to spend millions of taxpayer dollars trying to cope with the consequences of this surplus of pets. These public costs include services such as investigating animal cruelty, humanely capturing stray animals, and sheltering lost and homeless animals.

Updated May 4, 2007