Every year, an estimated 3-4 million dogs and cats are killed in U.S. shelters. Based on those estimates, over 8,219 animals will be killed today.
In just seven years, one unspayed cat and her offspring can create an additional 420,000 cats, according to a PETA press release.
With this issue at hand, the Obama administration's new website accepting petitions may be able to help. If a petition reaches 5,000 supporters, the administration will review it and issue an official response.
Upon learning about this opportunity, PETA and Bob Barker teamed up to create a petition requesting that all adopted and purchased animals be spay/neutered until the animal overpopulation crisis in the U.S. is solved. The petition states that “because no more animals need to be bred when so many others go without hope of being adopted, PETA is calling for a mandatory spay-and-neuter law until all dogs and cats in the United States have a home to call their own.”
UPDATE 9/23, 12pm: The petition was one of the first to reach 5,000 signatures on Friday. PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk said in a press release, "The flood of support that our petition has received demonstrates how deeply Americans care about the millions of dogs and cats languishing in animal shelters or suffering on the streets -- and how deeply they want a solution. We hope that President Obama will very strongly consider our well-supported petition and act immediately to help homeless animals."
This is certainly not the first time that PETA has spoken out against breeding pets. The organization released an ad campaign last winter pointing an accusatory finger at pet owners who purchased their dogs, asking, "If you buy a dog, what will you do with the shelter dog you kill?"
Dog and cat adoption has become popular in recent years, with online sites such as Petfinder.com and ASPCA offering pet adoptions with just the click of a button (and then 10+ years of responsibility, so no spontaneous purchases, please.)
Some organizations are getting creative. Earlier this year, "The Today Show" reported on “speed dating” for dogs, where finding a match could mean the difference between life and death.
The organization 600million.org is working on an animal sterilization pill to control the animal population, and in turn, reduce animal abuse and killings. As advocate David Duchovny says, "Many countries that have no laws against cruelty to animals control stray dog populations by poisoning, hanging, throat slitting, beating to death, electrocution, and shooting.”
PJ's Pets, a major pet store chain, recently announced that it would stop selling pets in its stores across Canada. Instead, the company is making space for pet adoption organizations, and possibly even kennels, according to the Toronto Sun.
While these efforts are making a significant difference in many animals lives, as Diane Gauld from the Mayor's Alliance for NYC’s Animals said, "We can't adopt our way out of this. We have to cut down on the number of animals being born without a home."
According to the Associated Press, many animal experts believe spaying and neutering has played the biggest role in saving lives. The news organization reports that many states require shelter animals to be sterilized, and pet owners pose the greatest challenge. ASPCA's Stephen Zawistowski explains to AP:
Medical procedures have caught up in the last half-century and a lot of people have changed their thinking.
"Now they make a one- or two-inch incision and use self-absorbing sutures" that mean a much quicker recovery for the animals, Zawistowski says.
Aimee Gilbreath, executive director of Found Animals, a Los Angeles-based charity, agrees. "It's become a tenet of responsible ownership," she says of spaying and neutering.
Bob Barker certainly believes that. According to the PETA press release, Barker always includes a message about spay/neutering when providing his autographed picture to fans.
He recently recorded an audio message on PETA.org to encourage people to sign the petition. In the message, Barker says, "Let's let President Obama know that dogs and cats deserve a voice in politics too … Help control the pet population: Have your pets spayed or neutered."
Based on yearly estimates, approximately five dogs and cats were killed in the U.S. in this minute alone. Is it time for a change?