One of the frequent questions we get in the classroom is "if we spay/neuter all the pets, won't they go extinct?" We also hear this from people at community events when I staff an educational table. It's one of the frequent excuses for not spaying or neutering a pet. They think they are being smart pointing out to us that the species will die out so they are actually doing a good thing by breeding their mutt.
There are approximately 77.5 million dogs and 93.6 million cats that currently have homes in the United States. Every year, 6-8 million enter the shelter system. Between 3-4 million dogs, cats, puppies and kittens won't make it out alive. We have entire litters of puppies and kittens that never know what it is like to live in a home and be loved. Roughly 7 animals are killed every minute. By the time you reach the end of this blog entry, 70 will be dead. Despite the number of animals dying in the shelters across the country, puppy mills and breeders continue to breed. There are laws being passed in cities and counties across the nation in an attempt to slow down this mass production of dogs and cats. Until those laws take affect, and are followed, we still have a very serious overpopulation problem. Purchasing an animal from a pet store or an unqualified breeder contributes directly to the problem. Your money encourages them to breed another litter and another and another to continue to make money all the while robbing puppies and kittens in the shelters of a home. When you adopt your pet from an animal shelter or rescue group, you are saving a life and not contributing to the breeding that has brought us to this point.
Many people have unintentional litters. They don't bother to spay or neuter their pet and end up with puppies or kittens. Even if they are responsible and line up homes for them, there will be fewer homes for the puppies and kittens currently in the shelters waiting for homes. Unintentional litters take homes away from animals already in the shelter system. Breeding directly takes the life of a shelter animal, contributing to the 3-4 million deaths occuring each year.
The overpopulation problem will not go away overnight. Not everyone is going to spay or neuter their pets today, this week, this month, this year. Dogs and cats aren't anywhere close to becoming extinct. Spaying and neutering your own pet will help stop the deaths occuring every minute in shelters across this country. What will fixing your pet do? It will keep them from getting certain kinds of cancer, make them less likely to bite, less likely to run away and less likely to fight with other animals. They will also live longer, healthier lives. For more information about low cost spay/neuter, please visit our website and click on Resources. If you aren't in the Los Angeles area, you can visit for a low cost option in your area.