Animals have been a central theme this week at Living Large, so I thought I would continue that on with the Tip of the Week: Recycle a Pet.
Over 5 million healthy dogs and cats are killed in shelters each year in the United States. Millions more struggle to survive on their own on the streets and in the countryside.
If you put all of the animals killed in shelters each year together, it is more than the human population of Los Angeles and they would equal the populations of Chicago and Houston combined.
That’s a lot of animals.
We taxpayers also foot the $2 billion bill to capture, house and ultimately kill these animals.
Homeless, feral cats also have a profound effect on the environment and eco-system, greatly reducing the number of birds in some areas. I couldn’t find any statistics with regards to how much of an environmental footprint shelters leave on our planet, but it must be astounding.
So, why is it necessary to continue to breed pets or buy “new” pets from breeders or pet stores? It isn’t. It’s American consumerism, the need to have the “best,” the “prettiest,” the “fastest” the “biggest,” the “smallest…” whatever descriptor. It is because we see animals as an extension of our lifestyles, instead of living beings with feelings and emotion.
Some may also feel that shelter or rescue pets are “broken,” or have behavioral issues that cannot be fixed.
That is simply not true. We’ve had a total of 7 rescue cats and 9 rescue dogs (including a foster) in our married lives, none of which required anymore training and socializing than I would have put into a “new” puppy. Of these, 3 of them were purebreds, which also proves you can find purebreds, if you so choose, in rescues and shelters.
There’s a saying in animal rescue: “Shelter animals are not broken, they’ve simply experience more life,” and we’ve found that to be true. Our rescues have all also been the most loyal of pets. Emma, our German Shepherd/Rottweiler mix even saved me once from a charging horse.
Dale brought home a new stray last week. He’s a younger Beagle mix. He is very needy and clingy, he needs lots of attention and love. He also doesn’t seem to have been house trained. But I know when he settles in and he knows we won’t leave him or dump him, he’ll be a great dog.
We’re calling him Dexter, because he has “killer” eyes that will melt your heart.
If you cannot adopt a homeless pet, there are other ways you can help the effort:
- First and foremost, please make sure to spay and neuter those pets in your care. Two unaltered cats and all their descendants can theoretically number 420,000 in just seven years. Two unaltered dogs and all their descendants can theoretically number 67,000 in just six years.
- Volunteer your time and any unneeded pet toys, beds, blankets, towels, linens and other items your shelter may need. Food and of course, monetary donations, are always welcome too. Many shelter and rescues have sponsorship programs, which are great gifts for the people in your life that have everything and need nothing.
Here at Our Little House, we believe the 3 R’s of Repurpose, Reuse and Recycle is not just limited to “things;” but also to the beings that we, as a species, have domesticated, making all of us responsible for their humane care and the imprint we leave on the environment in doing so.
We would love to hear all about your recycled pets and how they found you.