Sunday, July 27, 2008

Fixing the Pet Crisis

I used to be a big advocate of pet adoptions. I thought that, if enough people adopted unwanted pets, then we could humanely solve the pet overpopulation crisis. Unfortunately, a large number of people who have adopted pets have found themselves saddled with expenses that they are not able to handle.

Well-meaning pet adoption efforts seem to have saturated the community's ability to care for pets. As many pet adopters were feeding their pets on credit, the recent mortgage mess has created a perfect storm situation where households are forced to give up pets in a market that simply cannot absorb more homeless pets. Pundits have taken to calling this crisis "foreclosure pets."

With so many households in stress, pet adoption is not a viable path out of the crisis. The massive pet adoption industry that encouraged people to adopt pets on credit seems to have created an even deeper crisis. I actually feel bad about my past efforts to encourage pet adoption as a solution to pet overpopulation.

In some cases, pet adoptions and pet rescue efforts enable inhumane treatment of animals. For example, greyhound rescue efforts save dog racers the cost of caring for older dogs. The walking-talking-slugs that breed pitbulls for fights use pitbull rescue efforts as a dumping ground for dogs that aren't prime for fighting.

It is a difficult task to organize a charity so that it isn't an enabler for the problem the charity wishes to address.

Anyway, I just penned a review of no more homeless pets.

Past versions of the review lauded people for adopting homeless pets. This version of the review loudly rings the bell for fixing pets. The review emphasizes the costs associated with pet ownership and condemns people who don't fix their pet for saddling the community at large with the cost of caring for our excessive pet population.

Pets consume an inordinate amount of food and fuel. Dogs and cats feed from the same food chain as humans. The recent trend to convert food to bio-fuels is straining the food chain. There are already reports of food shortages in poorer parts of the world.

There is a moral issue involved in converting food to fuel (The issue is especially pronounced in regards to government subsidies for bio-fuels). The fact that we are converting food to fuel creates a secondary issue of feeding out bloated pet population in a world facing the scourge of global warming and food shortages.

I contend that pet ownership is an area where we can reduce our consumption of food and energy.

While I still hold that people should adopt pets from the vast reserve of homeless pets before buying animals from pet farms, I no longer see pet adoption as a viable cure for pet overpopulation.

Pet owners have a moral responsibility to control the reproduction of their animals. Fixing pets is the best solution to the problem. I believe that the humane societies of the US would be wise to use the boom of "foreclosure pets" to drive the message that Americans should spay, neuter and reduce our overall pet population.

I am really sad, but the crisis of foreclosure pets will lead to a massive increase in the number of euthanized animals.

In my review I make the claim that every time an irresponsible pet owner lets the dog or cat drop a litter costs society at large some $30,000. Pet owners make a difference when they lead their beloved foofoo on that long walk to the vet for a simple operation.

1 comment:

Scott Hinrichs said...

'Heart' bumper stickers used to be prolific, where the heart shape was used as a substitute for the word love. It used to be common to see messages like, "I heart my dog" or "I heart my cat."

One of the best ones I ever saw exchanged the heart shape for a spade shape like what you see on playing cards. It read, "I spade my dog," meaning that the owner had has his/her dog spayed.

As responsible pet owners, we have always taken steps to prevent our pets from producing offspring.