Dear Mr. President and American People:
This may seem like a strange question to ask, but we really need to know…
HOW DEEP IS YOUR LOVE?
You see, we’ve been reading and hearing a lot of scary news lately about people losing their homes and having to give up their pets. And, well, we are becoming concerned. Well, more than concerned and more than a little worried. And not to give the impression that we are a bunch of crazed animals, but we are pretty much staring down panic, while fighting off paralyzing fear. And let me tell you, its not pretty. Not pretty at all. But then, neither is a lot of what is going on in our lives.
We understand Mr. President that there are a lot of important causes out there and a lot of compelling needs that demand your attention and those needs are growing daily. But this is our cause. This is the one we know deeply and personally. So this is the one we feel compelled to speak up about.
“We” are every past, present and future mix-breed, pure breed, stray, abandoned, abused, adopted, hoarded, loved, spoiled, neglected domestic animal companion (a.k.a. dogs and cats).
And our cause – is our lives.
Despite our cute and cuddly beginnings and the adored and pampered lives of the lucky few, annually 4 to 6 million of us have lives that are short and brutal, and our deaths are ugly and inescapable. We love you humans like no others. And in return we ask not for unconditional love. What we want and need from our human companions is loving responsibility and restraint. Because as things stand right now, a death sentence is issued with the birth of each and every puppy or kitten.
Okay, your eyes are starting to cross. You’re thinking pet overpopulation is a sad fact of life for “unwanted pets”. And besides, you do your part. You spay and neuter all your pets. (We luv ya and thank ya big time!) You regularly donate and volunteer at your local animal shelter, humane society, or rescue group. (Our heros – we luv, luv, luv ya!) You adopted and/or rescued your pets. (We luv ya with all our hearts and we’ll be thankful to the end of our days.)
But we still need to talk.
You see, the sad truth is that pet overpopulation and the uncontrolled breeding of pets has created a vicious cycle that affects humans as well as animals. And in a lot more ways than you humans imagine. And well, we need to bring you up to date. Kind of show you the big picture and give you a glimpse of the future. Because we are telling you, you’ll be shocked. We were. And we pretty much had our paws on the ground with this, so to speak. And don’t worry. We won’t make you watch any gruesome videos or give you graphic, gory details. We promise.
So here goes…
According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association there are approximately 74.8 million owned dogs and 88.3 million owned cats in the US.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, 6-8 million (a conservative estimate) dogs and cats enter shelters each year across the USA. Annually, 3-5 million are adopted or reclaimed by owners. The remaining 3-4 million dogs and cats are euthanized. That’s right, every year 3-4 million of us are killed because we lack a home. That is it. That is our big crime. And our punishment is death.
Yes, there are no kill shelters and rescue groups but they can only do so much. In the end they are only a reprieve for a lucky few. The rest of us must go to a shelter where we only have on average 72 hours to find a home, or we must die to make room for more homeless pets, who must be adopted or reclaimed by owners within 72 hours or they too must die, to make room for more pets…
And so it goes, day after day, year after year. And yet, here is the thing humans. How can we not be homeless?
In the USA, more than 2,000 dogs and 3,500 cats are born every hour, but only 415 humans. That’s right. We dogs and cats are out reproducing humans at an estimated 13 to 1.
No way, you’re thinking. Those numbers can’t be right.
Well, we don’t want to brag or anything, but we are darn good at reproduction. It’s in our nature. And well, the mechanics of it are all in our favor too. We cats and dogs reach breeding maturity at 6 months. Our average number of litters per year is 3 for a cat and 2 for a dog. Our average number of kittens per litter 4-6. Our average number of dogs per litter: 6-10.
Hey, we told you we are good at this.
So, okay. You’re seeing maybe how this could happen. And yes, 5,500 pets being born per hour; 132,000 dogs and cats daily, is a bit shocking. But you’re thinking people are more educated now. They routinely spay and neuter their pets. Pets have a much shorter life span than humans – only 15 years for a dog and 20 years for a cat. Besides the annual number of euthanized pets has been going down for years.
Our response to all that is yes, it is true – for the most part. Most humans are becoming more educated and responsible about pet reproduction and spaying and neutering their pets. But we still have 28% of owned dogs and 13% of owned cats that are not spayed or neutered. And most and more sounds great until you realize that in the end, it all comes down to the amazing power of one.
“One pregnant female cat and her offspring can theoretically produce 420,000 cats in seven years.”
“One pregnant female dog and her offspring can theoretically produce 67,000 dogs in six years.”
Yup, we can see those eyes are wide open now. You are getting a feel for the big picture. Well, don’t rush it. Let it sink in a minute while we share a few other things that are keeping us awake at night.
Approximately one-quarter of the dogs in shelters are purebreds who were originally purchased and then abandoned.(5)
One out of every five animal companions becomes lost at some point in their lives. Of these, only 16% of dogs and about 2% of cats are ever recovered by their guardians.(6)
Most animals who are not taken in by someone or brought to a shelter starve or freeze to death, die from illness or get run over by cars.(7)
Over 30% of the animals who wind up in shelters are surrendered by their guardians, who, for whatever reason, are either unable or unwilling to care for them anymore.(8)
Admittedly, we like to pretend we can run a household to our liking (when we get the chance), but the truth is we are dependent on you humans for just about everything. Our love, our food, our shelter, and the care of our health. Yes the best of us can run our human companions around in circles, but we can’t make vet appointments. We can’t drive a car or manage other forms of transportation. We can’t pay bills. We know nothing about surgeries or organs and the like.
Yes, we need you humans. We need you to put an end to this vicious killing cycle that too many shelters have been forced into. We can not do this for ourselves. So please, show us the depth of your love by help us to ensure that every dog and cat gets their chance at a loving home and long healthy life.
Love us enough to spay and neuter us.
Love us enough to support local spay and neuter programs so even the strays and homeless pets in your area will reproduce less.
Love us enough to not breed us for profit or fun (especially now when the economy is eliminating more and more current and future adopter homes).
Love us enough to adopt from a rescue group, animal shelter or humane society.
Love us enough to provide us with id tags or microchipping.
Love us enough to find room in your home when friends and family need to give up a loving and beloved pet.
And in return we will be your best friend and your biggest supporter. We will be at your side through thick and thin, in good times and bad. And we will love you with all our hearts and for all our days.
Zane Grey and Charlemagne
Cat and Dog representatives of Domestic Animal Companions United for a Better Future
(previously published at No Quarter)