Take the Pledge

When you explain to people that there are literally too many animals and not enough adoptive homes they come up with all sorts of solutions which are unfortunately, never feasible. Some say to just fix the dogs and "set them free," ignoring the fact that those animals will quickly and inevitably suffer from injury, illness, starvation, or even cruelty; deaths far worse than humane euthanasia amongst people at a shelter who actually care. There was a case at our local shelter of a dog who had been abandoned on the streets for months before he could be captured, cared for, and sent to a fantastic rescue. His name is Journey and his story is incredibly touching.

As I watched Journey's story unfold, the first thing that came to my mind was that if anyone ever doubted whether or not we should be "freeing" these animals instead, they need look no further than this poor dog. He had no hair, he was too afraid to approach a human being, and he badly needed help. That is what a dog looks like if it is turned loose to fend for itself. Dogs have been domesticated and bred to rely on humans. Humans, in many ways, have also come to rely on dogs. Left by themselves, dogs do not stand much of a chance.

There is no magical way to end the need for animals to be humanely euthanized when space runs out in the shelter. There are, however, practical and realistic ways to put a stop to this. A petition won't do it. A heated argument won't do it. The only way to stop this is to come together as a community of animal lovers and pledge to do the following things:

1) Have your pets spayed or neutered. 
Even the adult dogs in the shelter started off as puppies bred by an irresponsible breeder. How do I know this? First and foremost, a responsible breeder will make you sign a contract requiring that you return the pet to him/her in the event that you cannot keep it. If that sounds crazy it's because breeders like this are very few and very far between. Responsible breeders also do thorough health testing and have a stellar record with a reputable veterinarian. Breeding shelties for 15 years does not make someone responsible. If they aren't health testing and active in actually improving the breed then they are just long-time backyard breeders. For more information on figuring out if a breeder is responsible, please see the blog post, Where do Puppies Come From?

2) Adopt or foster.
Don't believe the myths that only a puppy will truly bond with you or only a purebred puppy can be well-trained. And even if you want a puppy, there are plenty of those in shelters too. Most of the breeders in my area have pure bred dogs for sale that were bred simply from two parents of the same breed (hopefully) with no thought to quality or health. People who wanted that mellow, loyal lab end up with a neurotic, bouncy, but still loyal lab. I'm not saying to stop loving your dog now that he's already yours, just saying that in the future you can find a pet just as loyal at the shelter without supporting a backyard breeder. There is no better gift to an animal than adoption! And if you can't adopt, why not foster an animal temporarily to free up space at the shelter?

3) NEVER support a backyard breeder! 
Registration, be it AKC or CKC does not guarantee that you've found a good breeder. Don't be fooled into paying hundreds or dollars for a poorly bred dog or cat. Be especially wary if the breeder is selling mixed breed puppies at outrageous prices (for example, schnoodles, golden doodles, pomchis, etc.). These are NOT pure bred dogs or "new breeds." These breeders (and the ones with the accidental litters) are the reason our shelters have to euthanize. If you're angry about euthanasia, turn that anger toward the real source. Once again, see: Where do Puppies Come From?

4) Educate others!!
Don't yell or scream. Most people really just don't have a clue about what is going on. There are people in this world who seriously believe that most shelters CHOOSE to be a "kill shelter" and that they don't have to be. PLEASE help us fix this. By turning the shelter into the villains our shelter ANIMALS lose support (see: Shelter Workers are not Broken). Not to mention, the thought of how this must make our shelter workers feel every day really breaks my heart. They are really the ones doing the hard part here. My local shelter's staff are constantly arranging transports to have dogs sent to rescues, reaching out to find homes, and trying to educate the public. There is literally nothing more that these people could possibly be doing. They need us for the rest.

If you feel inspired to do these things to help end this problem, please leave me a comment and let me know. Spread the word! Send this page to your friends and like the page on Facebook! http://www.facebook.com/nmbyb

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