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RECYCLED LOVE: Considering the pet population

There are many homeless pets sitting in shelters and rescues.
There are many homeless pets sitting in shelters and rescues. - 123RF Stock Photo

When I was young, I watched the gameshow The Price is Right. Bob Barker hosted it and you may remember he ended every show with the same emotional request: “This is Bob Barker reminding you to help control the pet population. Have your pet spayed or neutered.”

I always thought Barker’s request was odd because our family altered every pet we owned and I innocently assumed everyone did the same.

As an animal advocate, I now understand how vital Barker’s message was to the health and welfare of our pet population. But just like everything in life, there are two sides to each situation and altering our pets comes with varying opinions.

Individuals may not alter their pets because they want their children to witness the miracle of birth at least once in their pet’s lifetime. Some people may believe altering their pet will make them gain weight, become lazy or change their personality. Some believe altering pets can increase their chances of developing hyperthyroidism or different types of cancer. Some may want to make money, so they loan out for stud services.

Many pet owners alter their pets because they believe it can reduce dominance or aggression. They may feel it decreases the chances of pets developing breast or testicular cancers and they believe it reduces the urge to roam. Most pet owners alter their pets because they understand the plight of homeless pets.

I firmly believe in altering our pets because of one crucial fact: pet overpopulation. There are far too many homeless pets sitting in shelters and rescues.

I found some statistics for homeless pets in Canada on Humane Canada’s website.

“... Humane Canada (also known as the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies) has been collecting data about shelter animals from humane societies and SPCAs across the country for 25 years.”

“In 2017, Canadian shelters took in more than 87,000 cats and 33,000 dogs.”

Although those numbers seem shockingly high at first glance, I feel they are not accurate. Humane Canada does not track the number of pets rescued from private rescue organizations, such as Animal Rescue Coalitions (ARC). They rescued an estimated 280 dogs in 2017 and 290 dogs in 2018.

If you start adding in all of the private cat and dog rescue organizations across Canada, the numbers for pet intake Humane Canada has published would increase substantially. Those published and unpublished numbers will cause me many sleepless nights this year.

Sadly, the dog my husband and I are fostering had puppies before coming into rescue. She is barely two years old. She was spayed recently and her veterinarian told me she had numerous litters. She is blind, was tied outside and she was bred. Her past life was heartbreaking for any animal rescuer to witness.

Please be kind to animals.

Tracy Jessiman is a pet portrait artist who lives in Halifax with her husband and their three pets. She is a volunteer with Animal Rescue Coalitions of Nova Scotia. She has been rescuing animals most of her life, but more intimately, animals rescued her.

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