Homeless Animal Day

The third Saturday in August is National Homeless Animal Day in the United States, but every day is homeless animal day for millions of cats and dogs throughout the world. Last year about 17 million dogs and cats were turned over to animal shelters. Out of every 10 that were taken in, only one found a home. Of the rest, 13.5 million had to be destroyed.

Although many of these animals are healthy and adoptable, their sheer numbers outweigh the availability of good homes. For instance, a single female cat and her offspring can produce 420,000 cats in seven years; a female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 dogs in just six years. This tragedy can be prevented.

Historically, America's taxpayers bear the cost of picking up, housing and ultimately euthanizing these homeless animals. Nationally, the cost is estimated at $2 billion. Millions more cats and dogs never even make it to shelters. They are abandoned by their guardians and ultimately die from starvation, exposure or disease.

Spaying Your Female Pet

A spayed female is more pleasant to live with. There are no furniture stains and soiling resulting from her heat cycle and no annoying advances or serenades from neighborhood males. What's more, her chances of leading a healthy, happy life are improved by reducing susceptibility to mammary cancer and uterine infections.

Neutering Your Male Pet

Neutering discourages "wandering," which often leads to fights, car accidents and the spread of disease. It eliminates the foul-smelling sprays your pet uses to stake out his territory. It reduces male tendencies toward overly aggressive behavior and also lessens the likelihood of the animal developing prostate infections and cancer.

Sterilization and Your Pet's Disposition

Animals that have been spayed or neutered are not only healthier, they tend to be more gentle and affectionate, toward both people and other animals. Contrary to popular belief, neutered pets are not inclined to be inactive or overweight, though special care should be taken when feeding them.

What About Paying for Neutering?

You can't afford not to. If you're unable to place even one of your pet's offspring, raising the puppy or kitten for only one year will cost you far more than the price of sterilization surgery, which can range from about $100 to $150, depending on the size of the animal and your location. Note, too, that some shelters offer vouchers and discounts that can be applied to the cost of the surgery. There are many programs that help pay for a portion of the procedure, if you qualify. Contact your local shelter to learn more about a spay/neuter program in your area.

Doing Your Part

Even if your family pet is already spayed or neutered, there are many ways to participate and help ease the tragedy of pet overpopulation. Sponsor a friend or relative's pet, spay or neuter a feral cat or a pet awaiting adoption at a local shelter. Consider having a yard sale or bake sale to collect money to sponsor spaying or neutering for low-income family pets or elderly people's pets. Dog washes and raffles also make great fundraising events.

In 2003, with the help of thousands of people, Spay Day USA resulted in an estimated 225,000 companion and feral animals being spayed or neutered nationwide, including rabbits, ferrets, and horses! Many veterinary clinics offered a discounted fee for the surgery during the event. Some even extended the cost reduction to include two additional months. It is anticipated that even more businesses and veterinary clinics will participate each year.

With everyone working towards controlling overpopulation, someday, the dream of eliminating stray, homeless or abandoned animals can be realized.