The recent troubles at the animal shelter here in Perry County, in which 198 dogs were euthanized after testing positive for a fatal and contagious illness, should serve to underscore the need to control our local pet population.
Though the cost of spaying or neutering a cat or dog is sometimes prohibitive, there is a much higher cost to the public in doing nothing. An estimated 64 percent of the animals that enter shelters in the United States will be euthanized, according to the American Humane Society, the vast majority due to overcrowding. In 2007 alone, officials estimate that 3.4 million animals were put to death in shelters.
Locally, shelters in Eastern Kentucky tend to have close to an 80 to 90 percent euthanasia rate due to more animals receiving less medical care.The Kentucky River Regional Animal Shelter puts thousands of animals to sleep each year, including puppies and kittens.
These are statistics that could and should be reduced with appropriate animal care, and that means spaying and neutering. According to the ASPCA, only 10 percent of the animals received by shelters are spayed or neutered. That’s in stark contrast to animals kept as pets, as 88 percent of cats and 78 percent of those dogs are prevented from reproducing by procedures performed by veterinarians.
There are ways to spay or neuter animals that can lower the cost. The regional shelter here is now open, and does offer a low-cost program which can help pet owners. And as the ASPCA notes, the cost of spaying a pet is much less than the cost of raising a litter of puppies or kittens for one year.
And that’s not to mention the cost to the public. The local animal shelter utilizes some taxpayer funds to operate, which are likely gobbled up quickly by the vast amount of animals it accepts each year. Though the revamped shelter won’t be taking in as many animals, there is certainly going to continue to be a high cost to operate. Additionally, stray and unwanted animals can become a nuisance in neighborhoods by bringing in diseases or causing damage to property.
Ultimately, the key to pet overpopulation is taking preventative measures so that overpopulation doesn’t happen in the first place. There are several websites with good information, and several local vets who can also act as resources. Quite simply, the cost is too high not to act, and it won’t just be people who benefit, but the animals as well.