In America, the stray animal problem can go unnoticed; out of sight, and out of mind. But it is worse than it appears. Once and awhile you may see a stray dog or cat, but the reason that you don’t see more is because we have system to take care of that. Dog pounds, animal shelters and independant humane societies keep the animals out of sight. The problem is tucked away in the corner where no one can see it.
In the U.S, there is an estimated amount of about 70 million stray cats and dogs. Six to eight million of them end up in shelters. Half of those animals end up euthanized. Euthanization is necessary in some cases, like when an animal is suffering enough that making it continue to live is wrong. Less than 2% of cats, and 20% of dogs, are returned to their owners once they land in shelters. Homeless animals outnumber homeless people five to one.
Many shelters resort to euthanization because they have limited funds and space for the amount of strays that are out there. Even no kill shelters can only take in so many animals before they have to turn many away. Some of the euthanization can be prevented by spaying or neutering your pets, because in six years, one female dog and her offspring can create 67,000 dogs, and one female cat and her offspring can create 420,000 kittens in seven years, according to the Watauga Humane Society.
The numbers of stray rabbits, reptiles and rodents are even harder to come by since these animals are hidden among native wildlife. And many shelters no longer accept them because too many are bred in pet stores.
The number of stray pets in the U.S. is overwhelming to think of. Fortunately, this is a problem that can be fixed. Too many animals end up alone and unwanted, but we can help prevent it through education.