Do you ever wonder why you believe the things you believe? Really, do you ever wonder? For instance, have you ever wondered why you keep hearing that there are too many animals compared to available homes, and that this presumed “fact” is why shelters have to kill, or euthanize, large numbers of animals?
For years we have all heard people who we believe are intimately familiar with animal welfare and the issues related to the subject espouse this “fact” in commercials and public service announcements. But do any of us know where they get their information? More specifically, do we know how they know that there are too many companion animals in need of homes compared to the number of homes that are available to them?
Well, the truthful answer is no, we don’t. We don’t know their sources because, the fact is, there is no study or statistic that confirms the advertised, widespread belief that pet overpopulation exists. In truth, the popular myth that pet overpopulation is real is just what it is, a myth…albeit a well perpetuated one.
The Humane Society of the United States and Maddie’s Fund did a study regarding pet overpopulation a few years ago…and guess what they found? The study revealed that there are, in reality, far more Americans adopting pets every year than there are pets entering U.S. animal shelters.
Is this documented fact a shock to you? Is it hard for you to believe? Well, if so, your reaction is perfectly normal…a normal reaction to having been lied to for years and years by individuals and organizations you considered trustworthy, at least in relation to animal welfare issues. It’s also a normal reaction to be mad at all those people and groups that told you that pet overpopulation is real when it is actually just a myth.
Even though you now know the truth about the nonexistence of pet overpopulation, the very shelters you support and those who operate them will still continue to promote the long-standing urban legend that justifies their euthanizing millions of dogs and cats every year. They will continue to perpetuate this myth on their Facebook pages and websites and at their functions even though they lack even a single statistic to back up their claims, in other words.
So what is it going to take for people to stand up to the shelter directors or the boards of directors in their respective communities and tell them that pet overpopulation is a lie, to tell them that pet overpopulation is a “problem” that doesn’t actually exist? What is it going to take for these directors and board members to recognize that the only real problem that exists lies with themselves, the people in the animal welfare community itself…that the real problem is that too many people in the animal welfare world aren’t willing to educate themselves about the facts and are more comfortable adhering to the proverbial party line instead?
If you’re having trouble digesting this information, please stop listening to other people, to “experts,” and do your own homework. Find out what the facts are for yourself and then do something to put the myth regarding pet overpopulation to rest once and for all. Demand change in your community. Demand that your local shelters use the proven 12-step program developed by the No-Kill Advocacy Center.
Will things change overnight? No, they won’t. But it only takes one person who has passion, actual knowledge and honest intentions to change a community. Once a community is educated, its shelters will have to change from there because they will no longer be able to use a myth to justify their practices.
But before shelters will amend their practices, someone needs to instigate change. Someone needs to step up and start the education process. Someone needs to take action to prevent animals from being needlessly put down…or “euthanized” as shelters prefer to refer to the senseless slaying of adoptable dogs and cats. Will it be you?