Written by PETA
The economic downturn has taken its toll on nearly everyone, and animals are no exception.
Animal shelters across the country are overflowing with record numbers of cats and dogs—many of whom were surrendered by people who lost their homes or could no longer afford to care for their animal companions after being laid off.
With so many animals in need of refuge, now is a terrible time for an alarming number of animal shelters to arbitrarily implement limited-admission, "no-kill" policies. These policies put animals in danger because they prompt shelters to turn animals away or they make it expensive and difficult for people who can no longer care for their animal companions to surrender them to a shelter.
The only effective way to deal with the companion animal overpopulation crisis is through aggressively pursuing laws and policies requiring people to have their animals spayed or neutered and making it easier for them to do so. When shelters refuse to take in animals—and communities fail to address the underlying causes of the problem—animals pay the price.
Under pressure from people with good intentions but no clue of the ugly reality of overpopulation—nor of the sheer number of animals who flood shelters every day—some facilities are stooping to all-time lows to manipulate their euthanasia rates. Many adopt policies and practices that endanger the very animals they should be protecting. These include charging fees for surrendering unwanted animals (sometimes outrageous fees, such as $96 for feral or stray cat "turn-ins" in Maricopa County, Arizona); requiring citizens who can't care for their animals to make appointments and "wait until there is room"; refusing to accept feral or stray cats, even when people might resort to doing them harm; refusing to accept animals from outside the invisible boundaries of a certain town or area; and giving away animals free of charge and without adequately screening adopters.
Here are just a few heart-wrenching news stories about the ways in which no-kill shelters and policies harmed animals in 2010:
PETA's small sheltering program takes in any animals who need help—even those who are aggressive, horribly injured, or terminally ill. We took in nearly 80 dogs and cats whom PETA staffers brought back from crowded New Orleans–area shelters after the Gulf oil leak nightmare dealt an additional blow to the Gulf economy.
No one ever needs to pay a fee or make an appointment to drop off an animal to PETA. Our field staff is on call 24/7; animals are accepted at all hours of the day and night. PETA's fieldworkers rushed out to help both of the following animals after receiving emergency pager calls early in the morning on weekends:
Animals like Buddy are the reason why PETA will never turn away any animal in need. Is a shelter in your community turning away animals? Work to open its doors by following these guidelines.
Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post
We're over the moon to report that the team working PETA's "Spay and Neuter Immediately, Please" (SNIP) mobile clinic met their goal to spay and neuter 10,000 dogs and cats by the end of 2010—by December 1. This means that SNIP will likely end the year having performed closer to a record-breaking 11,000 low-cost or free surgeries and sparing multitudes of their patients' future generations from winding up in animal shelters or suffering on city streets.
Consider that in six years, one unaltered female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 puppies—and that in seven years, one female cat and her offspring can produce 420,000 kittens. The numbers of animals saved from suffering thanks to SNIP is astronomical—and way, way more than my calculator could figure.
Let's meet some happy recipients of SNIP's services:
George also enjoys his warm, dry doghouse from PETA.
Paris, the doggy of love
The ridiculously adorable Duckie and his Mama
Congratulations and a bazillion thanks to clinic manager Cindy Emanuel and the entire SNIP team for their tireless, lifesaving efforts in 2010—and here's to much more of the same in 2011!
Written by Karin Bennett
What could be better than a "Hello Kitty" wrap around an itty-bitty Smart fortwo car? How about something just as cute and enormously meaningful?
PETA has asked Smart USA to offer our "Hello Doggy" wrap alongside its own Hello Kitty wrap. That way, caring fortwo owners can help save lives by driving home the point that spaying and neutering dogs and cats helps curb the companion animal overpopulation crisis. Additionally, we've suggested that Smart USA donate all the proceeds from the Hello Doggy wraps—which would be offered in full and half sizes—to spay-and-neuter programs such as PETA's "Spay and Neuter Immediately, Please" (SNIP) mobile clinics, which perform hundreds of free and low-cost sterilizations every week in Southeastern Virginia.
As it stands, up to 8 million unwanted animals enter our nation's animal shelters every year, and approximately half of them are euthanized simply because there aren't enough good homes. Add to that the countless animals who are abandoned in the streets to starve and suffer from untreated illnesses or injuries from encounters with cars or cruel humans. Still more staggering statistics: Just one unaltered female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 puppies in only six years. In seven years, one female cat and her offspring can produce 420,000 kittens.
The answer to saving so many lives can be quick, simple, and inexpensive (or even free)—and is as obvious as clicking a seatbelt. Please continue to spread the word that spaying and neutering can help save lives. We'll let you know if Smart USA compassionately—and smartly—joins our efforts.
It's been barely a week since the fabulous Pamela Anderson rolled up her sleeves and opened her wallet to help PETA rescue nearly 50 dogs from overflowing Gulf-area animal shelters, and she's already back in action—this time, she's helping PETA rescue a special group of cats.
Pamela is helping pay for veterinary care for nearly 30 "special needs" cats, many of whom are suffering from illnesses and injuries (one has a misshapen face, another is half a leg short of four) or from chronic stress from being left at an animal shelter some years ago. The gang of 30 is en route from New Orleans–area shelters to PETA's headquarters. uShip, an online shipping company, has generously donated its services to transport the cats, and our staff is taking care of the animals along the way. Two desperate dogs—Sandy, a lab mix with a flea allergy, and Cassie, a pug mix—came along as stowaways and will be transferred to our friends at the Washington Animal Rescue League's well-run shelter in Washington, D.C.
Countless cats have been abandoned in the wake of the Gulf oil gusher. Older and "special needs" cats have an especially hard time finding homes because animal shelters are flooded with kittens who were born because people didn't have their cats spayed or neutered. There are many advantages to adopting a mature feline—including knowing what the cat's personality is like and bypassing the rambunctious kitten stage. Virginia residents with exemplary veterinary references and quiet households who are interested in giving one (or two!) of these hard-luck cats a second chance can visit PETA.org to fill out an adoption application.
Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post
Starting this Sunday night, HBO's Entourage gets a whole lot sexier: Adult film star and PETA supporter Sasha Grey starts her recurring role, playing herself and cozying up to Adrian Grenier's character, Vince.
With this ad, Sasha Grey has turned on countless audiences to the importance of spaying and neutering. Now's your chance to turn her on. Will you?
Written by Karin Bennett
Mamma Mia! It's official: Suave film star Pierce Brosnan is a man of many talents—and much compassion for animals.
The actor's whimsical portrait of his own adopted animal companions, Shilo the dog and Coco the kitty, is gracing California's new spay-and-neuter license plate. Proceeds from sales of the special plate will help fund efforts to educate the public about the need to spay and neuter companion animals and will help provide free or low-cost surgeries throughout the state.
Whether all dogs get to have their day (and all cats theirs as well) depends on every caring person to educate others about the companion animal overpopulation crisis and its cure, both in California and beyond.
Written by Karin Bennett
It seems like everybody has an opinion about "Octomom" Nadya Suleman, who gave birth to eight babies last year. No matter where you stand on that decision, starring in porn isn't Suleman's only option to remedy the recently rumored foreclosure proceedings on her home in La Habra, Calif. In fact, PETA is offering to bolster her finances by paying to place an ad on her front lawn:
Massive media attention is aimed at covering Octomom's every move, and it's time to put that attention to good use. After all, Americans need to know that millions of dogs and cats end up in animal shelters every year, and half of them are euthanized simply because there aren't enough good homes. Countless other homeless dogs and cats suffer on the streets—dodging cars, enduring attacks by other animals and cruel humans, and suffering from disease and starvation. People need to know that the solution to so much of this suffering couldn't be simpler: Spay or neuter your animal companions.
After all, however one might feel about Octomom, I think we can all agree that for puppies and kittens, one litter is one too many.
This is Precious.
PETA staffers and volunteers were out delivering doghouses and straw bedding to neglected dogs one bitterly cold February morning when they found her and the 11 puppies she had given birth to the night before. Three of the puppies were already dead, having frozen to death overnight. Precious was holding one of the dead puppies her mouth in a futile attempt to warm the cold little body. As excited as she was to see her rescuers, she refused to part with her dead baby.
We rushed Precious and her puppies to the vet, but the surviving puppies were so hypothermic that their body temperatures did not even register on a thermometer. Precious herself, besides being severely malnourished, was feverish, anemic, and crawling with fleas and ticks. She also tested positive for hookworms and heartworms.
While Precious had shivered in the cold, watching her babies die one by one, her owners had been snug in their warm house, oblivious to her existence out there on her chain. They didn't even know that she had given birth until PETA staffers told them.
Precious and her puppies epitomize what happens when people do not spay or neuter their dogs and cats. So much suffering could have been prevented if her owners had availed themselves of PETA's "Spay and Neuter, Immediately, Please" (SNIP) mobile clinic, which spays and neuters pit bulls for free and even provides free transportation if necessary.
We wish we could say that Precious' case was an isolated event—that it isn't something we deal with often—but we hear every single day from dog and cat owners who don't think that it will matter if their dog or cat has "just one litter." In Precious' case, her owners had no idea that newborn puppies cannot survive freezing temperatures. They didn't know that pregnant and nursing animals require extra food to nourish their growing puppies or that they need medical care just like people do. They didn't realize that dogs need to be treated for fleas to prevent anemia, and that dogs living in mosquito-infested, swampy areas need heartworm prevention nearly year-round or they will almost certainly contract this deadly disease.
They didn't know any of this until it was too late for Precious and her puppies.
By taking a moment to ask your governor to sponsor mandatory sterilization legislation in 2010, you can be the voice that saves a dog like Precious.
Written by Alisa Mullins
The following is a guest post from PETA Prime's Scott VanValkenburg.
Did you know that February 23 is Spay Day? Leading up to this very important "holiday," PETA Files readers are going to be treated to a series of posts that are aimed at highlighting the importance of making sure that animal companions are spayed or neutered.
In my time at PETA headquarters, I can honestly say that nothing has changed the situation more for dogs and cats in the border region between North Carolina and Virginia than have PETA's mobile clinics. The original "Spay and Neuter Immediately, Please!" (SNIP) clinic has been joined by the Animal Birth Control DogDoc clinic. Last year was a banner year for the struggle to end companion animal overpopulation in the poor urban and rural communities served by PETA's clinics.
In 2009, our mobile clinics performed 8,677 spay or neuter surgeries, preventing the birth of as many as 62,472 kittens and 55,536 pups in the next year alone. That's easily equal to the local animal shelter intake for one year! The local shelters (where they exist in these areas) are bursting at the seams—so no adoption program can possibly solve the problem—and exporting pups and kittens to shelters in areas with a lower population also doesn't address the root of the issue.
PETA not only drives the clinics to towns where there are no veterinary services at all (let alone a low-cost clinic) but also uses creative grassroots work to reach people. Volunteers from PETA's Community Animal Project (CAP) march in the "Peanut Parade" (this is the South, after all) and go door to door trying to help "backyard" dogs. Many of the animals who receive free doghouses from PETA are also spayed or neutered by SNIP. PETA now has a full-time employee in North Carolina who drives a small van to remote residences (many on roads with no street signs) to pick up dogs and cats to take to the clinics. Last year, 562 animals got a free round-trip ride to the clinics. It was definitely the first ride that many of these animals had ever had!
PETA has also worked to have legislation passed that promotes spay and neuter surgeries.
PETA's clinics are among the few that provide "early" spaying and neutering, which not only prevents accidental litters and helps the shelters we serve with pre-adoption sterilization but also helps the individual animals avoid many health problems. Last year, 2,917 puppies and kittens were "snipped" so that they'll never have a litter! Our clinics also helped the most abused breed of dog by providing 210 low-cost or free surgeries to pit bulls. And feral cat caretakers brought in 735 felines, moving us closer to the day when there are no outdoor cats.
One local animal shelter reported that it received 100 fewer pups last year than it did in 2008, attributing the decrease almost entirely to PETA's mobile clinic services. The flood of dogs and cats needing homes continues, but PETA's local and national programs are helping to stem the tide. Have you waded into this issue?
Written by Scott VanValkenburg
I know the photos are upsetting, believe me. But you have to understand a problem in order to fix it. And that's what we want you to do—to start understanding the real source of the problem. The killing of homeless and unwanted animals isn't going away, and it's not because animal shelters don't care (they do, and many workers pour their hearts into their work). The real reason—and here's the truly shocking part—is that many dog and cat lovers are the problem. That's right—the very people who should care the most are often the ones who create the problem.
Shelter workers will tell you that dogs and cats come through their portals with embroidered blankets, painted toenails, or folders filled with "papers"—signs that the animals were once valued. Some were bought on a whim as Paris Hilton–style "arm candy," and others were surrendered because their guardians went off to college; went on vacation; moved north, south, east, or west; married someone who was allergic; got divorced; or couldn't be bothered to cope with the animal's barking, fur, size, or normal physical and psychological needs. (Surprise—animals actually need to be fed and walked, and their litterboxes need to be cleaned too.)
Many of the "dumped" are living, breathing testaments to the collapse of sub-prime mortgages and loans. We acquired beyond their means, so when times got hard, pink slips arrived, and bills mounted, thousands of Princesses and Peppers and Peaches ended up on the street, literally and figuratively. And they're still pouring through the doors of animal shelters—the ones, that is, who weren't left in abandoned houses, later to be found barricaded inside closets or on chains in backyards.
Some refugees from human failures and home foreclosures will languish in a shelter cage for life. You can see them, turning in ever tighter circles; barking frantically at every visitor, as if to recount their story; or sitting with their backs turned to the world, unresponsive to sweet talk, all hope gone. Every one of these anxious individuals must wonder how it is that this guardian or that family, their family, their person, who they believed would always be there to care for them, has vanished, leaving them confused and displaced in an unfamiliar and uncomfortable cell.
Unwanted dogs and cats are, in their own way, a bit like carbon emissions: They are invisible to most of us because they are kenneled in animal shelters that are often tucked away on the wrong side of the railroad tracks, in impoverished neighborhoods, or down country roads. They are hidden, unlike the animals in bright, shiny mall pet shops. Like carbon emissions, they are the product of careless and egocentric lifestyles and a reluctance to connect the dots.
This year, animal shelters will be forced to kill millions of wonderful dogs and cats for want of one thing: a good home. Why? Because many of the people in your local dog park or veterinary waiting room—people who truly love their dogs and cats—have behaved irresponsibly by obtaining an animal from a pet shop or breeder and failing to have him or her spayed or neutered.
These are the people who are responsible for taking the lives of homeless animals—not your local shelter workers. For, just as buying clothes that were made in sweatshops supports child labor, buying a dog or cat from a breeder or pet shop contributes to the death rate in shelters. Let me be clear: There is no such thing as a responsible breeder.
When people buy a dog or cat, perhaps they think that homeless animals don't factor into their purchase, or perhaps they are honestly oblivious to the hundreds of thousands of animals who are waiting on death row at that very moment. I'm sure that such people don't see themselves as signing some animal's death warrant when they sign their credit card receipt, but that's what they are doing. They have room in their home and heart that could be filled by rescuing one of those wonderful, loving dogs or cats who were booted out, got lost, or fell victim to a human's accident or death. They would have felt that animal's gratitude for years to come.
There is one more way in which people add to the crisis, and that is by fooling themselves into thinking that it doesn't count if they breed their dog or cat just one time. But it does matter very much. Please join PETA in calling on the governors of all 50 states to endorse mandatory spay-and-neuter laws that would require dogs and cats to be sterilized unless their owners purchase an annual breeding permit—the cost of which would fund low-cost spay-and-neuter services.
Everyone who breeds their dog or cat believes that their friends will flock to take home the new arrivals. After all, that animal is the prettiest and smartest in the world. But again, a pound pup or shelter Siamese could fill that space (to say nothing of the spaces that will later be taken up by the descendents of those new puppies and kittens if they aren't spayed or neutered before they're given away). And if homes can't be found for all those adorable pups and kittens, people find themselves handing them over the counter at the animal shelter accompanied by those six conveniently guilt-shifting words, "You won't kill them, will you?"
Written by Ingrid E. Newkirk
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.