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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

No myth here.

Image of a cat I created from photo taken at the Miami shelter - this cat was recently returned and is in need of a home. 

As I type this there are 368,464 pets listed on the Petfinder.com site. Of those, 185,011 are dogs and 168,517  are cats. The numbers will most likely change by the time I am done writing this and most certainly will differ by the time you read this. The numbers are only a glimpse into the problem of homeless companion animals in our country. They do not give a full view of the true overall total of animals needing homes. These numbers are taken from a single page that promotes adoption and do not include the numbers in the shelters and rescues who advertise elsewhere. It also does not include the number of animals needing homes that individuals have listed on Craigslist or other want ad sites. In addition, it does not even begin to touch the numbers of companion animals dumped and living on the streets, those who are in need of saving that have no one to advocate for them, and those who are just killed before they even have a chance to be taken to a shelter for adoption. It certainly does not include the many dogs and cats in sanctuaries or rescues that will never be adopted for various reasons and it does not even cover those who are hoarding dogs and cats who have yet to be stopped.  We have a problem. Some are trying to sweep the massive and obvious numbers of animals needing homes under the rug. The fact is, we have an overpopulation of animals needing homes and a severe under population of people who care to adopt and can give them homes. We live in a society that treats our pets like disposable fast food containers – use them and toss them away. 

Image created from photo I had taken at the Miami shelter. 

Because of the mass numbers of animals entering shelters yearly --estimates put it at 6-8 million animals-- there are just too many. Of those animals entering shelters, it is estimated that around 4 million will be killed. Some will be put into gas chambers and suffer a horrendous death, while others will receive an injection and die from an overdose of a drug such as sodium thiopental. It is horrible and I don’t think there is anyone out there that would celebrate the mass numbers of animals dying in our shelter systems. However, there is movement that is playing on the emotions of those who find this an atrocity and use the horrible truth as a curtain to hide behind, while they seek to destroy the many groups who work to better animal rights and even those people who work in the shelters. One of the main mantras of  group called No Kill Nation, No Kill Advocacy Center and the man, Nathan Winograd, that inspired the movement, is that there is no pet overpopulation. Obviously, to believe that, a person must have never looked at the mass numbers listed on a site such as Petfinder or have never walked the halls of overcrowded shelters. Certainly, they have never visited rescues and sanctuaries that have animals that have been waiting for years to be adopted. I have. Unless we, as a society, start fixing our pets and stop breeding for just a moment- millions of animals will continue to die. Groups such as No Kill Nation need to stop the propaganda and start facing the fact that shelters and rescues are full. There are too many dogs and cats and it is about time we take stronger steps to fix animals instead of simply focusing on only the euthanizing of animals and using it as a divide in the animal rights movement. 

Longhaired Dachshund image from Miami Shelter.

The group that consistently spouts the idea that overpopulation is somehow a myth is completely in denial about the fact that people pick their pets not solely based upon their best fit, but oftentimes pick pets based upon look or desire to have a certain color, size, breed, etc. It is evident in the fact that shelters are so full that people are not being responsible in picking their companion animals and caring for them long term. Of course, we are in a terrible financial time and that makes it even more important to address the overpopulation from the start, rather than the end result. Shelters are simply a Band Aid for an overflowing problem of overpopulation. Shelter animals are mass victims of the financial crisis with people losing jobs and homes it contributes greatly to the intake in shelters along with the other various reasons that animals are put into shelters. So why continue to add to the numbers of dogs and cats knowing that millions die because not enough people want them and there is not enough room to house them? 
Yorkshire Terrier- image created from photo taken at the Miami shelter.

I am just sick to death of reading this group’s new mouthpiece who keeps posting anti-HSUS and anti-PETA articles on any site he can find to post them. If the group No Kill Nation and Nathan Winograd truly cared about the overall safety of the shelter animals, they would be attacking those who are contributing to the problem rather than large groups who work to put the problem into the light. Instead, they spend their days trying to convince people via social media that overpopulation is a myth and find people to write the articles to attack the large animal right’s groups in such a way that would make Rick Berman glow like the aftermath of a 3 hour orgasm. In a recent anti-HSUS post on the Huffington Post, they used the source of Charitywatch.org to help defend their attack on the use of donation money by the HSUS. However, the irony is that No Kill Nation and the No Kill Advocacy Center are not even listed on that site themselves. Based upon their own description on their own sites, they are advocacy groups. It is stated that donations go to education, reform and shelter reform initiatives – so is that not the same kind of group that HSUS, ASPCA, PETA etc. are? Are they not all advocacy groups of one form or another? So why attack one group for not giving all of its money to local rescues, if they themselves do not do it either? And why pretend that we do not have an overpopulation problem? Could it be because there are people behind the group that have a vested interest in seeing organizations who work to expose animal abuse and influence legislation be destroyed? Could that be the real reason that they want us to believe that overpopulation is a myth? Would it be of benefit to certain groups if people were to believe that there is no overpopulation? And worst of all why in the hell are they using the mere existence of puppy mills as some indication that there is no overpopulation problem - the defense of puppy mills is reprehensible. 


Beagle mix puppy- image created from photo taken at the Miami shelter. 
Just because there are homes wanting pets does not mean that every pet should be in those homes. In the shelter system, there is a disproportionate number of some breeds as well as colors and sizes. I have six dogs and I love them all dearly. Two of my dogs are very large and came from the Miami Dade Animal Services. I have spent a lot of time in that shelter taking photos for artwork that I make about shelter animals. In walking the halls, it is easy to see that there are too many large dogs. In talking to adopters, I have found time and time again that they most often want small dogs or puppies and most people are not interested in black cats at all. I love my big dogs, but I would be insane to believe that they are the kind of dog that would fit into most households. It is evident in the fact that I adopted the first (Sylvia Miami) as a baby. She was there with siblings who were adopted by other people. Months later, after they had time to grow to over 60 pounds each, one was returned. I had to adopt her, of course, and now Beula Jenkins is a part of the family. It is obvious that the initial adopter did not do their homework when adopting Beula Jenkins as a puppy. It happens all the time. Just because there is a home open does not mean that home is a good home. In Beula Jenkins’ case, she was lucky and now weighs almost 100 pounds and is loved every day. Not every home could handle a 100 pound dog. Because of that, large dogs die at alarming rates in shelters and sometimes sit for years in rescues waiting for homes. In Miami, there are even high numbers of dogs – mostly large dogs- sitting in boarding kennels after people have pulled them out of the shelter with no plan for them, so, of course the numbers of homeless animals don’t even begin to touch those poor souls. 


Pointer- image created from photo I had taken at the Miami shelter.
As I type this, there are currently full breed and mixes of 20,085 Pit Bulls, 4,932  Siamese cats, 8,153 boxers, 595 Persian cats, 30,736 Labrador Retrievers, 18,537 Chihuahuas, 105,064 domestic shorthair cats, and 3,679 poodles needing homes. To deny that overpopulation does not exist simply helps those that continue to contribute to it feel better. If the consumer believes there is no overpopulation, then it will benefit the income of those contributing to the mass numbers of companion animals needing homes. With 372,837 homeless companion animals listed on one single website - I would say that we do have a problem. Especially since that number went up by 319 in the time it took me to write this. I want no kill shelters- I just want to get there without the propaganda… the truth is enough. 


One of the many large dogs that fill the numerous kennels in the west wing. Image created from photo taken at the Miami shelter.


2 comments:

Mary Tully said...

Beautifully written, Mary.

They Call Me Chap said...

Excellent post Mary, and quite similar to what I had written a while back. The sheer audacity of claiming overpopulation a myth is mind boggling ( new word ) On Terri Fulks page she was critiquing the " no kill haters" blogs, it's a comfort to know they continue to read us :) The study I did lasted 3 months and I did major Pet Harbors in 10 jurisdictions. Did you read the piece where NHS claimed 4,000 fosters ? Now that could compete with shelter population.