boiling it down

…. ~650 words

I’m the volunteer coordinator at HSOV, but I’m also a 25+ year student of dogs and dog-training, and author of half-a-dozen dog-training manuals and instructor manuals for dog-training classes.

On a personal level, I’m an advocate for spay/neuter, for responsible ownership, for making pets part of our families. I believe that every animal leaving the shelter should be neutered, unless a sizeable deposit is paid to ensure the adopter will take the animal to be neutered. I believe that humane societies and veterinarians have opposing goals with regards to the pet over-population crisis.

Record-keeping on the part of the loose confederation of humane societies, ASPCA’s, rescue organizations, can be sketchy at times, so we’re not sure if three or four million dogs are euthanized every year in the United States. Either number is horrific, especially when we translate that to our local situation. (insert April 7 HSOV BOD information here)  For every 4 dogs turned over to shelters, 2 are euthanized. For every 4 cats turned over to shelters, 3 are euthanized.

It is not enough for HSOV to devote the resources of the community to keep a handful of lucky dogs and cats comfortable, warm, dry, and fed. I ask that you each commit yourself to improving the lives of all the pets in our county. No female dog should be tied outside, allowed to come in heat, and be at the mercy of every intact male dog in the neighborhood. No litter of puppies or kittens should be permitted to live outdoors, at the mercy of the elements, with no contact or attention from humans.

It is not enough for HSOV to do fund-raisers and adopt-a-thons, collecting a few thousand dollars or adopting out 5-10 pets a week. I ask that you each commit yourself to improving the lives of all the pets in the county, increasing the percentage of altered pets, and educating citizens about the proper care and costs of pet ownership. I don’t believe that only the wealthy should own pets. I do believe that HSOV should be educating adopters about, and assisting pet owners, with the costs involved in responsible pet ownership.

It is not enough for HSOV to have a sign on the van encouraging folks to spay/neuter their pets. I ask that each of you commit yourself to discontinuing the practice of adopting out HSOV’s intact pets. Each of these pets is a breeding machine and we have no guarantee they’ll be altered. If an intact female gets adopted out it’s only a matter of a few months before her first litter of puppies arrives back. These female dogs and cats have no pre-natal care, their puppies and kittens arrive sick and neglected, the litters are unsocialized and untested, and become an additional burden for the humane network.

It is not enough for HSOV to educate citizens about puppy mills, about responsible feeding and vet care practices, and about the value of pets as family members. I ask that each of you commit yourself to only placing healthy, altered pets — only in happy, approved homes. If we adopt out an intact animal we are adding to the pet overpopulation problem. Our mission calls for us to provide a solution to the pet overpopulation problem, not promote pet overpopulation.

My friends in the rescue and humane movement suggest essentially the same solution, regardless of where they’re located and whether they deal with all pets or a specific breed or type of pet.

Any pet over 5 months should be spayed or neutered before being adopted. Any adopter taking a pet under age 5 months should pay a sizeable deposit — $100 to $150 — to be rebated by the shelter or to be deducted by the veterinarian doing neutering surgery.

Any veterinarian unwilling to accept the mission of the humane movement, or unwilling to provide vet care to shelter pets without extraordinary multiple visits or fees, should be bypassed for more cooperative veterinarians.

Adopters should not have an option regarding neutering any animal over the age of 5 months.

Shelter staff — animal lovers all — should not have to euthanize dozens of pets a month because of citizens’ lack of education or lack of funds, resulting in low spay/neuter rates.

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One Response to “boiling it down”

  1. Erica Says:

    How do you propose to deal with your concerns in the fourth paragraph (dogs tied outdoors). I think you need to prepare, or even state up front in your treatise, a plan – enforcement of existing laws, creation of new laws, increased surveillance, vigiliantes with bolt-cutters (ok, maybe not), etc.

    I hope that your well-written thoughts reach not only the ears but also the brains and hearts of the Board. I trust you’ll be blogging on it…

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