Every year in the U.S., an estimated 6 to 8 million lost, abandoned, or unwanted dogs and cats enter animal shelters.
Some of these dogs and cats are lucky enough to be adopted into loving, responsible, and permanent homes. But there are far more animals in need of a caring family than there are kind people willing to provide them with a good, permanent home.
Approximately 3 to 4 million cats and
dogs—many of them healthy, young, and adoptable—must be euthanized in animal
shelters every year. No one hates that ugly reality more than the people who
hold the syringe, but the alternative—warehousing them in "no-kill"
shelters that confine animals to cages for weeks, months, or years on
end—leaves animals to suffer a far worse fate. Nathan Winograd,
the most well-known "no-kill" advocate, supports such shelters
despite the fact that under these conditions, many animals go insane from
loneliness and confinement. Many more unwanted animals are simply abandoned to
suffer and die on the streets or languish in lonely backyards without
companionship, exercise, or, in many cases, even basic necessities such as
food, water, shelter, or veterinary care.
Why are there so many unwanted cats and dogs? There are three main reasons: Many people fail to spay or neuter their dogs and cats, who then reproduce, creating enormous numbers of kittens and puppies. People still buy animals from breeders or pet stores (thereby supporting the puppy mills that supply them) instead of adopting homeless animals. And people acquire companion animals without considering the lifetime commitment that caring for them requires. Eventually, people turn their backs on their loyal companions when they become "inconvenient" or "too much work."
The companion animal overpopulation crisis can be overwhelming, but solving it starts with a "no-birth nation." We must all prevent more animals from being born by spaying and neutering.
You can help. Sign PETA's pledge to end animal homelessness and never buy an animal from a breeder or a pet shop.
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.