by A. Grano on April 7th, 2010 at 7:00 am
It is estimated that 3.7 million shelter animals were euthanized in the United States in 2008. That number may be even higher, as animal care and control agencies are not uniformly required to maintain statistics.
However, animal activists and welfare organizations such as the ASPCA alike agree that the estimate (based on previous studies from the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy) is far too great, and impulsivity and ignorance on behalf of pet buyers may be to blame.
Where the Trendy Syndrome Begins
Over the years, animals portrayed in film and the media often became overnight sensations, from the lovable Dalmatians in the mid-90’s hit children’s movie to the cute Chihuahua in the Taco Bell commercials. Later, purse-sized pooches were all the craze, made popular by an infamous hotel heiress, and even snakes saw a spike in pet shop sales after a couple of pop princesses danced with pythons. While some of these pets find life-long happy homes, many end up in shelters once the next fad pet comes along.
Other exotic pets also made headlines recently, notably the misleading breeders selling “teacup” sized pigs to uneducated consumers, which are in fact baby potbelly piglets who have not yet reached maturity (they reach their full size within four years). Once they become full grown, these pigs are most commonly abandoned by owners who either cannot or refuse to keep them.
Help Stop the Problem by Planning Ahead
While sometimes pet owners don’t have control over moving and living situations – which may result in difficult landlords and the inability to keep a pet—most reasons for willingly giving up a pet can be avoided.
- Doing plenty of research prior to buying a particular breed or pet can give a reasonable estimated cost of maintenance, feeding, and help identify any characteristic health problems which may add up to unexpected expenses down the road.
- Purchase pet insurance. Research and planning can’t protect your pet (and your wallet) from accidentally swallowing a toy or having an allergic reaction to a new food, but most emergency vet costs can be significantly cut by insurance.
- Wait before buying a pet. Make sure the decision to bring a new pet into the home is appropriate for your lifestyle and carefully considered, factoring in work hours, community housing regulations, and other pets in the household.
- Be patient! If and when you do decide to get a new pet, always consider adoption first, and give your pet some time to acclimate to his or her new surroundings. Problematic behaviors are often caused by underlying issues, which can usually be resolved by training combined with some extra love and TLC.
When planning ahead in pet adoption, it’s nice to rely on a trusted source for tips and information. Check out the ASPCA’s great adoption stories or read some pet care tips!
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