Friday, March 6, 2015

EDUCATION; The Only Real Solution To Pet Homelessness

There are many ways to combat the problem of homeless pets; we can adopt, donate, foster, provide free or low cost spay/neuter, hold innovative adoption campaigns, and microchip our pets.  But all these things will not put an END to pet homelessness, overcrowded shelters, and euthanasia.


I believe the only thing that will truly end the misery of homeless pets is a change in paradigm brought about by Education.  We have to educate the public on the accountability that comes with pet ownership, how to be a responsible pet owner, and how animals should be perceived and treated.  Shelters and rescues are great, I shudder to think of where we'd be without them, but they treat the symptoms, they are not the solution.  The problem is that far too many pets end up in shelters or rescues in the first place.  There are a million reasons for this; some completely valid, most are utterly callous.  The analogy I like to use when I talk about shelters and rescues being a band aid is this story:


A man was walking along a river one day when suddenly he spotted a baby floating down the river!  He jumped in to save the child from drowning. 

Just as he pulled the child to safety he spotted another baby floating down the river!  He jumped in to save that one too, but no sooner had he gotten the child to safety he saw two more babies floating down the river.  Suddenly, the river was full of babies who needed to be rescued!

A second man saw what was happening and jumped into the river to help.  They were both working tirelessly to save the babies when the second man suddenly got up and left.  Where are you going?!? shouted the first man, you have to help me save these babies!!!

I'm going up the river to find out WHO is dumping all these babies into the river! he replied.

I like this analogy because it depicts what it's like for animal shelters and rescues.  The homeless pets just keep coming, it never ends.  We need to stop the proverbial bleeding and find out WHO is dumping all these pets and WHY.  Most importantly, we need to figure out HOW to stop it!

Adoptions, donations, fostering, spay/neuter, microchipping are all critical life saving efforts, but they won't solve the root cause of the problem of too many animals ending up in shelters or rescue.  People think that more and more adoptions and spay/neuter will solve the problem but it won't.  We have to stop the continual flow of pets into shelters and rescue!  

Trying to convince more people to adopt more pets won't solve the issue, because the flow of pets into shelters never stops. The flow of pets into shelters will only stop when pet owners make it stop. 

Many people think more adoption is the solution, they don't understand why every homeless pet doesn't find a home and they blame the shelters for this.  They'll say things like "There are 12 million people who want to acquire a dog and there are 9 million dogs available for adoption" so there's no reason why every single adoptable dog shouldn't find a home!  "The numbers don't lie" they'll say.  I know it sounds like a no brainer but it's not.  The numbers, at a macro level, may seem to tell the full story but they don't.  Without drilldown on the numbers, like any financial analysis, it is flawed.  Substitute the word "dog" with car, home, spouse, or any other life decision that is highly emotional, and you can begin to see why.  Just for fun, let's try this exercise:


"There are 9 million people women who want to acquire a dog spouse and there are 12 million dogs men available for adoption marriage"

Well it's a no-brainer, with 12 million single guys out there right?  So why aren't all 9 million women busy picking out a china pattern??  Oh I'm sorry, did I neglect to mention that:

* Of the 9 million women searching for a spouse, 1.2 million are gay and want a female spouse.

* Of the 12 million single men who want a spouse, 2 million of them are also gay and want a male spouse.

* Of the 12 million single men who want to marry, 150,000 of them are widowed men over the age of 80 and all 9 million women are under the age of 65.  Ok, some of the 80 year old men are kinda hot and have a lot of money, so that closes the gap a little, LOL!

* Of the 12 million single men who want to marry, 500,000 of them have done jail time for significant crimes.  Only 10,000 of the 9 million woman say they would marry an ex-con.

* Of the 9 million women searching for a spouse, 7 million of them insist on marrying someone with a college education.  Only 9 million of the 12 million single men have a college degree.

This list could go on for days but do you see where I'm going with this analysis?  This example is outrageous and exaggerated but a lot of  ticking off of criteria goes through peoples' heads when they "want to acquire a pet".  People usually have very definite ideas about what kind of pet fits their desire and lifestyle.  It isn't fair to blame them for that, it is everyone's right to have the pet of their dreams.   If you desperately want a Siberian Husky puppy, you have every right to have one.  No one should coerce or guilt you into adopting a 3 year old Terrier mix if you really only want a Husky puppy.  

We all want to do our part and be responsible, but that shouldn't mean always putting our own desires aside in favor of cleaning up the messes of irresponsible owners who continually dump, thoughtlessly surrender, are careless with, or neglect the pets they made a commitment to.  If you desire a French Bulldog puppy, you have every right to have one.  If you desire a 4 year old Basset Hound, why shouldn't you have one?  As long as you responsibly acquire the pet of your dreams, you have every right to do so!  Just as you have every right to choose the spouse or the home you desire.


We still live in a world where pets are thought of as "less than" by a large segment of society.  Sadly, spending money, time and energy to properly care for our pets is not everyone's priority.  Too many people still think of pets as something to be owned, used, and discarded at will, rather than cherished.  This attitude contributes to overcrowded shelters and high euthanasia rates. 

I believe the only real solution is to drastically reduce the number of pets that end up in shelters and rescues in the first place by changing the paradigm.  I believe this will only be accomplished through education!  As bloggers, we are privileged to have the ability to help educate others.  If you think this post has merit, please share to help spread the message.

I realize some of you may vehemently disagree with what I've said here, and that's ok.  I always want to hear what you think of my posts regardless, so please take a moment to comment and share your thoughts. 

THIS IS A PET PARADE BLOG HOP!!


59 comments:

  1. There are no bandaids or simple solutions to this problem. I do believe that we should educate, spay/neuter and strive to become a no-kill nation.

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    1. I totally agree - I think becoming a no kill nation is feasible for us but we have to stop the bleeding by keeping pets out of shelters as well as off the streets. Thanks for stopping by MK!

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  2. you are absolutely right and in my opinion there should be a class offered in school at EVERY grade level. Oftentimes, things become ingrained that are learned in youth (both good and bad)

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    1. Fantastic idea! It really does start with the children, they often inherit irresponsibility and disrespect for animals from their parents. Thanks for sharing your input on this Caren!

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  3. Yes, education for children would be nice. Many will never learn to care for or about animals from their parents.

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    1. You are so right Jan! The worst thing I see is parents who have come to the U.S. from other countries where dog fighting is an acceptable form of entertainment, and they start bringing their young kids to (illegal) dog fights here. It's a horrible thing to learn from a parent. Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. Education is the first and most important, but it needs to start at a young age. Teach our children to care and have a sense of responsibility. Many time children bring home these lessons and talk to the parents. I have seen some many children take up worthy causes these days we just need some to get this ball rolling. The future lies with our children.

    You article is so spot on, I absolutely love it, I hope your message get to the masses and people wake up now.

    For I have a dream that we no longer have a need for shelters and EVERY pet has a loving home and comfortable live.

    Thank you for taking the time to point out the statistics!
    Suzanne
    www.thedogtraininglady.com

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    1. You are SO right! I believe kids are born with an affinity for animals, but that can be destroyed as they're taught negative views and behaviors from parents or others around them. Teaching children from a young age about respecting and caring for animals is so important, kids very often do go home and educate their parents! We share the same dream of one day no longer needing shelters, or at least having near empty shelters that never feel compelled to euthanize a healthy animal! Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts, Suzanne!

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  5. MK Clinton has nominated you for our regular guest pose called Share It Sunday. You don't have to do anything. Just email us a link to the post you'd like us to show case and we will do the rest and let us know the blogger you'd like to nominate for the Sunday after.
    We are at
    mollyDOTthemollyATbtinternetDOTcom
    http://mollythewally.blogspot.co.uk
    Have a marvellous Monday.
    Best wishes Molly

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    1. How wonderful, I feel so honored!! I thank you and M.K. so much for thinking of me! I will email you shortly with my link - thank you again!

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    1. Thank you Kendall, I really appreciate that! Thanks for visiting the blog today!

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    1. Thank you Rachel, I'm glad you enjoyed it and so glad you stopped by to visit us on the blog today!

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  8. I completely agree with you. Education is the key to solving things. These homeless pets didn't do this to themselves. Very interesting thought exercise too.
    - Purrs from your friends at www.PlayfulKitty.net

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    1. Thanks Robin, I'm glad you liked the post! You're so right, these pets didn't do anything to warrant ending up in a shelter. They also didn't choose to end up in a shelter that isn't No Kill; it's not like they're given a form that says "check here if you'd rather go to a No Kill shelter. They're victims. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts today!

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  9. I am sooooo sharing this. Bless you for writing this and thanks for getting the word out. I cannot wait to meet you!

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    1. Thank you so much Carol, that means a lot coming from someone I admire as much as you! It is something I'm extremely passionate about and I'll chew anyone's ear off about it who will listen! We met very briefly at BlogPaws 2014 right before Manny the Frenchie's presentation but didn't have time to chat. I hope to be at BlogPaws 2015, and see you then! Thanks for wanting to share this post!

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  10. Great analogies! Really gets you thinking differently about the hows and why's of so many homeless pets. This is why we blog right? To educate. And maybe for enjoyment as well. ~Rascal and Rocco

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    1. I'm glad you like the analogies, it's a little out there but gets the point across. And yes, it's a large part of why we all blog; to express our love of pets, to learn from each other and to educate others in return! Thanks for stopping by today!

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  11. Education is really the solution to about every problem. Education and a tad of selflessness.

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    1. Good point! Education and selflessness, I would also add communication to that. Getting the word out is so important!

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  12. Great information share. Thank you. Education is key!

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  13. This is a very emotional topic for a lot of people who care since millions of dogs and cats are put to death each year and many more are injured, abandoned, starving...I see horror stories about "owners" (a word I despise - how about guardians?" and horror stories about so called shelters who won't even allow adoptions. I see horror stories about puppy mills. And where did we get the mindset to kill homeless dogs and cats? To follow your analogy, that's as ludicrous to me as rounding up and killing homeless people.

    I do believe this problem is solvable. It's going to take a big effort to educate guardians and potential guardians, shelter reform and legislative reform with a big push for free and low cost spay/neuter, which is proven cheaper than killing or sheltering for long periods. Well, I could go on and on so I'll stop now. Thanks for the article.

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    1. Thanks for your input on this Val, I appreciate that. It is a very emotional topic, but the facts need to be shared. I believe we can solve the issue as well mainly by getting to the root cause of why such a huge volume of pets end up in shelters to begin with and solving for that. I long for the day where there is no euthanasia of healthy animals, I believe we can get there but it will take education and a paradigm shift in both citizens (w/ and w/out pets). Governments as well!

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  14. Some great comments on a great post! I also agree - education is key.

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    1. Thank you for your input Sadie and thanks for stopping by today!

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  15. I LOVE this! I love the analogy. You are absolutely right that education is key. If we teach the importance of finding the right dog, understanding their needs, teach them how to train dogs for appropriate behavior, stress the importance of spay and neutering, etc. EDUCATION!!

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    1. Exactly! A pet is a lifelong commitment, if people aren't willing to commit they should not adopt (or acquire)! They should also learn to view their pets as individuals who deserve love and respect, not a thing to be used and then discarded. Thanks for stopping by today!

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  16. You are absolutely right, education is the key!

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    1. Yes, I believe it is! Thanks for stopping by!

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    2. I thought we'd been here before - have just re-read your post - such an important message. *sharing*

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    3. Thank you so much for sharing, I really appreciate that!

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  17. It is important to raise awareness and educate about this problem

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    1. Yes, awareness and education! Thanks for visiting us on the blog today!

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  18. Oh you are definitely absolutely right!!!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

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    1. Thank you Jenna and thanks for stopping by to see us today!

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  19. Bravo on this post. If more pet owners were educated and took more responsibility for their pets, all of them would be spay/neutered and loved until their last breath. My rescue group uses the babies in the river story to make this point too. So many rescue groups like the story about the starfish that washed up on the beach. Sure saving one life makes a difference to that pet, but we have to look at the big picture. Sorry to rant. Will share your story.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your input on this! The starfish story is another great one that illustrates what it feels like in sheltering and rescue. It just never ends, the homeless pets keep coming. I love your phrase "loved until their last breath", it's beautiful! That's exactly how every pet parent should feel about their pets. Thanks for stopping by to visit us today!

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  20. Excellent article and great information. I agree that education is key. I adopted my 12 year old poodle from a rescue group and couldn't love him more.

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    1. I know my response is very late but I appreciate your comments! Thank you for adopting a 12 year old dog, not enough people adopt senior dogs! Thank you for visiting us on the blog!

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  21. I definitely think education is key - but it's such a huge issue there's so many factors at play. I think the best way to create lifelong homes for pets is by education though - if people spent more time thinking about getting a puppy or kitty & really analyzed what breed or age would make a good match for their lifestyle I'm sure surrenders would drop. But that's like asking people to only follow their brains - when we all tend to act with our hearts. I wish I knew the answer, but more education is always beneficial.

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    1. It is a huge issue with no simple solution but education from the start is definitely critical. So many pets are surrendered for reasons that could have been avoided by a more knowledgeable acquisition of the pet. Education about other things is crucial as well; spay/neuter, microchipping, puppy mills & more. Thanks so much for your thoughtful feedback Jen!

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  22. Education is an important part of stopping the cycle of disposable animals - teaching empathy at a very young age would be incredible beneficial (to the animals, children and the world as a whole)! I also dig spay and neuter, and striving toward a no-kill world! Great post!

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    1. I couldn't agree more! Thanks for stopping by and providing your feedback on this post!

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  23. You make an excellent point! It makes me so sad and upset that so many people feel their companions are disposable when they get ill or become seniors. I wish that everyone took adopting a pet as seriously as you and I do. When I adopted Carmine, Milita, and then Jewel, I made a commitment to *each* of them to care for them as long as they live to the very best of my human ability. When I got Carmine as a small kitten, I had no idea he'd be a special needs cat, but that has never changed my feelings about him! I love him to pieces, and I always will. With each new medical challenge we face, we do it together. He knows that I will never abandon him because I love him and he's my little orange kitty baby. I just wish more people would take this kind of attitude towards their companions.

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    1. It disturbs me to no end that so many people still feel their furkids are disposable, I will never understand that. Bless you for loving your special needs kitty and never giving up on him! Every special needs pet should be so lucky! Thanks for visiting us on the blog and weighing in on this post!

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  24. People need to learn that pets are for life and they have feelings and are not going to be cute kittens and puppies for very long. A litter of puppies or kittens isn't something to take lightly and shouldn't be done to just have cute little ones around either!

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    1. You're so right! Everyone should know that every pet is a big responsibility and is for the life of that pet. Not spaying/neutering is irresponsible and unfair to the babies. So many of them end up in shelters. Thanks for stopping by Emma!

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  25. If you change your modified statement to 9 million single women, you may find some who do not want to find a spouse or have kids at all.

    In the adoptable animal world, this might correspond to feral cats who want to stay where they are. (I have a home; it's in the woods by this barn.) The TNR movement (Trap-Neuter-Release) prevents these feral cats from overpopulating their environment. Since the cat is still there, there is no free food supply available for more cats to move in and take over.

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    1. Oh, excellent point! That would further alter my population example, thanks for bringing that up. I'm a huge fan of TNR, it's a great way to address the feral cat population. I wrote a post on that several months ago. Thanks for visiting the blog and for adding these two great points!

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  26. You know, sometimes it kind of worries me - all the promotion going on getting people to get a dog. A dog is good for your health. A dog will help prevent allergies in your kids ... that is all awesome BUT is that the right reason to get a dog? Just wondering ...

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    1. I totally agree with you, Jana. We encourage everyone to adopt dogs & cats because they need homes so badly, but they need the right homes. People should adopt for the right reasons and only if they are prepared to commit to that pet for life and be responsible & accountable for the pet. Thanks so much for visiting the blog and sharing your feedback!

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  27. I totally agree. If you can stop pets from ending up in the system in the first place there's less trouble.

    One question I've been thinking about in my own community... is there a rise in rental places not allowing pets, and are people being forced to give up their dogs for that reason?

    Christie from LifeWithBeagle.com

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    1. Exactly! If we can prevent pets from ending up in shelters to begin with, the problem wouldn't be so huge. People definitely do give up dogs in large numbers when they move - it's actually a very big reason people give for surrendering pets. I never understand that, if you put enough time and effort into finding a pet friendly place to live it shouldn't be such an issue. Sadly, many people think moving is an acceptable reason for surrendering their pet. Personally, I'd rather live in a tent with my pets than lose them. I'd do whatever it took to keep them with me. I actually think more vs. fewer rental places are allowing pets these days. Thanks for stopping by Christie, & for bringing up a thought provoking question.

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  28. I couldn't have said it better myself. We can keep creating solutions, but we have to first address the problem.

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    1. You are SPOT ON with that thought Rachel! Addressing the problem of ridiculously large numbers of pets ending up in shelters to begin with is definitely what needs to be addressed. Thanks so much for visiting the blog today & providing your input!

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