Pet Over Population Problem

Alright, I’ve been trying to think about what I’d like to write about and after last week’s post “The Responsibility of Rescue,” I’ve been stuck on this topic. So I want to take a few days and give you my thoughts on rescues, shelters, breeders, spay/neuter, overpopulation etc.

I have been sitting here for a good long while thinking about where the heck to start this discussion. This is such a big topic that is very cyclical and related that it seems hard to find a starting spot.

I figure a good way to start the discussion is to name the players so to speak and give a bit of a glossary-ish. Let’s try to define the problem and the players in the pet overpopulation.

Puppy Mills (commercial breeders)–These are mass breeding facilities that can produce thousands of puppies each year. The breeding stock are frequently kept in absolutely deplorable conditions. These facilities may be USDA inspected but that doesn’t ensure the quality of life for the dogs in the cages nor does it assure quality of breeding. Many puppy mills produce puppies that are eligible for AKC registration and who stock the ‘shelves’ of pet stores that sells puppies.

Backyard Breeders–These are breeders that are breeding a relatively small number of dogs each year. They are often using dog breeding as a way to make extra money (though not necessarily). Although not always the case, many backyard breeders are uneducated on proper breeding practices and even proper puppy raising practices. These breeders are often pairing dogs based on nothing other than registration options (AKC, CKC, UKC) and breed status (making purebred puppies OR designer mutts).

Ethical Breeders–These are breeders who love the breed, who are not in it for the money, and who spend a lifetime/career working to improve the breed that they love. They care more about WHO ends up with their puppies than how much they ‘make’ from each puppy (when breeding is done ‘right’ there isn’t much money in it). They are often extremely well educated in their breed of choice, their particular line, and all the positives and negatives of their dogs. They spend the time titling their dogs in something, go through all proper DNA/OFA tests, and pair dogs very intentionally based on strengths/weaknesses of the temperament/structure of the dogs.

Rescues–Rescues are organizations created to provide safe haven for dogs who are either pulled from shelters or relinquished to the care of the organization. Most rescues primarily operate with the aid of volunteer foster families taking in the animals in need of shelter until appropriate homes can be found. Some rescues do have a main central facility but these are fewer and far between. These organizations generally pick and choose what dogs they bring in.

No Kill Shelters–These are shelters that are often (though not always) closed door shelters meaning they do not accept all animals–if they have no room, they turn people away to relinquish or drop off strays. They are committed to not euthanizing their animals for space reasons–contrary to their name, most will euthanize if the dog is suffering from major medical issues or if the dog is too dangerous to handle safely.

Open Door Shelters--These are shelters that take in any animal that is brought to their facility. They are often overflowing with critters. These are typically facilities that do their best not have to euthanize animals but if the spaces are totally full and someone relinquishes a dog, something has to give. These are mostly privately funded organizations that are not necessarily in charge of county/city ‘stray animal’ population (though in some places they will have a contract with a city/county to act as the animal control facility to handle strays).

Animal Control/Pound facilities--These are facilities that are contracted with the city/county to collect and house stray animals rounded up in the area. Some of these facilities accept owner surrenders but most are ‘victims’ of people dumping dogs on their property over night. These facilities often do not thoroughly temperament test or thoroughly vet their animals. They are often under funded/staffed and many of the “high kill” shelters fall under this type of facility.

Prospective owners–These are people who are interested in bringing a new animal into their home. They run the gambit from experienced owners who do their research to first time dog owners who impulsively buy a puppy they see at a pet store.

Pet Owners–People who care for and own pets.

There are other players in this, but these are the main ones. There is certainly a bit of a fuzzy line when we talk about the various types of shelters and definitely a fuzzy line between a puppy miller and a backyard breeder but this gives the basic idea of the players involved in the pet overpopulation problem.

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