The Common Problem All Shelters Face

The Common Problem All Shelters Face

Pet overpopulation is a national problem, but one that gets more press than serious attention. It’s a heartbreaking fact that for many homeless pets there is little hope of ever finding a family to love them.

Because of the sheer number of unwanted pets in today’s society, an animal shelter is the likely destination for a homeless pet. With no national regulations governing pet shelters, the policies they follow vary widely.

The two most common types of animal shelters are no-kill and euthanizing. While the two types are worlds apart in how they approach the problem of unwanted pets, both are attempting to deal with the same problem.

Exact numbers are difficult, but each year 6-8 million dogs and cats are held in shelters. Roughly 3-4 million of these pets are euthanized annually. While this number is immense, it actually represents an improvement. In the 1970s shelters across the country euthanized 12-20 million dogs and animals each year. At the time there were around 67 million pets in American homes; whereas today there are 135 million. Over the years, the number of euthanized animals has decreased as the pet population has increased.

There is no common policy on how long animals are held in shelters before being euthanized. In most circumstances the decision to euthanize comes down to two main factors: the health and temperament of the animal or the finite amount of space and resources to house the animal humanely.

No-kill shelters face immense pressures to care for the animals they possess as well as take in the constant stream of additional homeless pets that come their way. Because their resources are limited, they sometimes have to refuse animals brought to them.

The unwanted pet crisis is made worse by a lack of public support. Adoption levels of unwanted pets are low, as is the financial support shelters receive from their communities. Euthanizing or turning away animals are the responses many shelters have to make in the face of limited space, labor, and financial support.

What can you do to make a difference to homeless pets? If you have room in your heart and home for a pet, adopting from a shelter is much more than simply giving an unloved animal a warm and loving home. It also makes room for another animal at the shelter, offering it some hope of being adopted.

By volunteering at a shelter you can make a lifesaving difference to a large number of homeless pets. If you remember that the decision to euthanize animals is sometimes a response to limited resources, your volunteering can help expand those resources.

Additionally, supporting low-cost spay/neuter clinics can help alleviate the number of unwanted animals born every year. Helping control the population of homeless animals can take the pressure off the overburdened shelters.

Through activism you can help make broad improvements on how animals are treated in your community. Supporting the efforts to require that animals be properly tagged and licensed can help lost animals find their owners, as well as assure that animals are being placed in responsible homes.

The fate of America’s unwanted pets is often a grim one. And while the challenges facing animal shelters are daunting, solutions are available to help make the plight of homeless animals a better one. By giving your time and support to shelters and associations dedicated to animal welfare, you can make all the difference in the world.


All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Texas Alliance for Homeless Pets takes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

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