Rescue Me: Stopping unwanted litters
“Rescue Me” is a recurring column by Samantha Randall, editor-in-chief at Top Dog Tips. She provides personal anecdotes and perspective about her life as a pet lover with a passion for cat and dog rescue. Today, she talks about how to prevent unwanted litters of puppies.
With more than 2.4 million healthy cats and dogs being put down every year in the United States, it’s obvious that unplanned pet pregnancies need to be brought under control.
There are many things that we can do to stop unwanted litters. While some of these things, like spaying and neutering our dogs, can be handled by taking direct action, there is a lot that can be done to educate other pet owners of the dangers of unwanted litters. Want to help with this growing epidemic? Follow these tips:
Most people know that they should get their dog spayed or neutered. We see it on billboards and commercials; they even say it every day on The Price Is Right. But do people really understand why the practice is stressed?
Let’s say four puppies go to homes and are spayed or neutered (“fixed”). But one puppy goes to a home and isn’t fixed. She has an accidental litter of three puppies. Two of these puppies find good homes, but one finds a home where they don’t take care of him. He ends up a stray. A male stray can impregnate a huge number of female dogs!
Now, what if that dog impregnates two female dogs in one year? One female has a home, and they find homes for the puppies (starting another chain), but one is a stray and she has five puppies … I think you can see how quickly this adds up. We can’t just tell people to spay and neuter their pets. We need to drive home the number of dogs that potentially die because of one accidental litter.
My vet is awesome! She charges the bare minimum for spaying and neutering pets. She also participates in the Lifeline Animal Program, a program available in some states that catches and neuters wild male cats. The cat’s ear is notched as a sign that he is neutered, and he is re-released to the area where he was found.
Not all vets participate in this program. They need to make a living, and the surgery to spay or neuter an animal can be very expensive — $100 or more. This number gets bigger with the size of the animal. Lots of people have great intentions to spay and neuter their pet. Even if they’re on a budget, they feel they have plenty of time to save the money.
We all know that sometimes, life happens. The money isn’t there when the time comes. We need to have community programs that allow people with animals to spay and neuter their pets at an affordable price. We have a program where I live where some vets partnered to do a voucher program with animal shelters in the area. You can go to the shelter and get a voucher, bring it to a participating vet, and have your pet spayed or neutered for about $25.
These programs are available all over the country. The problem is that very few people know about them. We need these programs in our communities, and we need to help spread the word about them. Thanks to social media, that is becoming much easier. “Like” your local shelter and rescue groups on Facebook. Call them and ask if these programs are available. If so, share the information with your friends and family.
The Bottom Line
There are so many great people and organizations out there that are helping animals. These are not enough. If we want to truly start making a difference and stop the deaths of unwanted animals, we have to start at the beginning by preventing that first accidental litter. Contact your local shelter, animal rescue organization or veterinarian to find out how you can help. You can also start online and in-person awareness campaigns at little or no cost to you.