Author’s Note: This guest post is from the wonderful Miss Connie from Tails from a Foster Kitten

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Hello, my name is Connie and I have been fostering kittens for over ten years with my local humane society.  When Christina asked me to guest blog for her “Opt to Adopt” theme, I couldn’t say yes fast enough.

Unfortunately fostering got in the way.  I ended up taking a litter of kittens that had some health issues that not only impacted them, but also every other cat in my household to some degree. Fortunately it ended well for everyone in my household, but two of the kittens in the litter of five died, one died in my hands after I was so sure it was going to make it.

Why do I mention this?  Because all too often people white wash the facts and the truth of the over population of companion animals in this country.  Either we see those cute puppies and kittens in advertisements or we see those heart string pulling TV ads with the heartbreaking songs playing in the background, but people rarely talk about it.  I doubt there is a person in this world who has not heard the tag line ” help control the pet population. Have your pet spayed or neutered” but yet they still do not.    I fear we have come to have a blindness to the true horror of the over population.

A co-worker of mine recently decided she wanted a puppy.  I did not want to become that obnoxious co-worker who harassed about adoption, and fortunately another co-worker brought it up first.  She warned about the dangers of puppy mills and I tried to give her options for adoption, shelters, rescues, breed specific rescues.. pets already in this world in need of homes, but she will not hear it.  I think we were able to get through on what to look for in a good breeder, so at least she will not be supporting backyard breeders or a puppy mill.  But even after all the conversations we have had, she still was shocked that dogs were put down simply because they were black..

We need to do a better job educating people about the pets that are already here.  That there is a pet over population issue.  That unless you have long involved conversations with the owners, and can see the parents of the animal you are taking home you are part of the problem.  “Buying” an animal from a pet store or from an online add more likely then not came from a puppy or kitten mill and are no more special or likely to have less health issues then one from a shelter.  There are even AKC registered organizations that are puppy mills. http://www.today.com/news/akc-registered-breeders-raising-dogs-miserable-conditions-6C9640008

We also need to do a better job explaining just what ‘over population’ actually means.  Sadly it is so much more than the animals sitting in shelters or advertised in ‘free to good home’ ads..   Every year thousands of animals are adopted and thousands more wait to be adopted but it is estimated that 3-4 million animals are killed in the US http://www.aspca.org/about-us/faq/pet-statistics.aspx for the simple fact that there are not enough. Not enough homes, not enough time, not enough money.    Such a strong statistic, but what does it mean?   Breaking it down it is almost 11,000 animals per day and maybe something that is more relatable it is  220 per state every single day.

It is easy to say “Adopt, don’t shop” but it is often harder to do. People selling animals want to make it as easy as possible for people to hand over their money.  They are open extended hours, they don’t ask any questions other then can you pay, and they make sure they have a wide range of ultra cute (often too young) dogs and cats at any given point in time.  They go where the people are.  They are in shopping malls, they are advertising in popular magazines and they are willing to ship dogs all over the country.  Shelters are often at an extreme disadvantage for so many reasons.  They are under funded, they are over worked and often have their hands tied by old adoption policies that many people say are more stringent then they should be.

Opting to adopt is more than just getting your next pet at a shelter.  It is making sure you do not contribute to the problem. It is making sure your pet is not adding to the over population by having then neutered.  Even “just one litter” http://www.kittyblog.net/2013/02/its-just-one-litter.html adds to the problem.  It is making sure your pet is in good health and not spreading disease.  It is not purchasing pet supplies from stores that sell animals.http://nopetstorepuppies.com/map It is making sure that if you have to have a specific breed pet that you find a reputable breeder or a breed specific rescue. Do your home work on the breed before hand so you don’t find yourself in a situation weeks or months down the road where you can not handle the animal and need to turn it into the shelter.    It is also supporting your local shelter with time or money.   You would be shocked at how much of a difference even a small donation can make.    I once brought in some popsicles to my local shelter on a hot day.  It was such a small thing, but it made such a difference to the staff, and made it a little easier for them to smile doing their difficult job.

Opt to Adopt is not only a choice, but it can and should be a way of thinking.

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To skip to other “Opt to Adopt” Articles link the below link.  The image was made by the wonderful Miss Ann of Pawsitively Pets.

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