Over-Flowing Animal Shelters

Consider Welcoming a New Furry Friend from a Shelter this Holiday Season

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Over-Flowing Animal Shelters

Consider adopting a deserving pet, or volunteering at your local animal shelter.

Consider adopting a deserving pet, or volunteering at your local animal shelter.

Shutterstock Image

Consider adopting a deserving pet, or volunteering at your local animal shelter.

Shutterstock Image

Shutterstock Image

Consider adopting a deserving pet, or volunteering at your local animal shelter.

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Everyone who has watched T.V.- especially around the holiday season- has probably seen the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) commercials. The melancholy music, black and white images of sad animals in kennels scrolling across the screen, and the message “Donate today,” written at the bottom. Yeah, those commercials. They are trying to get funding to expand their shelters to make room for more rescues, and to pay for said rescues.

People surrender their pets to shelters for many reasons. Christie Sutton, one of the many employees who works with the cats at “4 Paws Rescue,” located in Peoria, says that people give up their cats because, “People think they can take care of animals ‘til they realize they don’t have money for vet care, or they get sick, or they’re moving, or they just don’t want the animal anymore.”

The ASPCA seems to agree with Sutton, citing that, “Pet problems are the most common reason that owners rehome their pet, accounting for 47% of rehomed dogs and 42% of rehomed cats.” By pet problems, they meant things like aggressive or problematic behavior, growing larger than expected, or health problems that the owner could not handle.

However, Animal shelters in the U.S. are growing over-populated. The ASPCA says, “Approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year.” As per Dr. Lara Sosnow DVM, full shelters affect the animals within them. “I think any animal in a shelter recognizes that they’re not in a home and then the more crowded and the louder the shelter is, the scarier it is,” Dr. Sosnow said. “So, you know, they can’t tell us, they won’t tell us, but if you walk through a shelter- and especially a very full shelter- you can see it in the way they behave. They’re scared, in the corner, and the longer they’re there the worse their mentality,” she continued. Full shelters also often have to make room for the influx of animals and the ones that aren’t being adopted, usually via euthanasia. The ASPCA estimates that around 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized annually. Representing 4 Paws Rescue’s policy specifically, Sutton says, “If they are injured or completely sick, we do what’s best for them.”

One way that high schoolers can help is by volunteering at animal shelters. For volunteering at “4 Paws Rescue” specifically, Sutton says, “You come in, you clean the litter boxes, mop, you check on the cats to make sure they’re okay, dishes, laundry.” Dr. Sosnow suggests that, “More volunteers can help at least get these dogs out of their kennels, to go out on walks, and to socialize, and to become more adoptable.” Dr. Sosnow went on to say that, doing so helps make the animals more socialized and trusting when people come in to give the animals a try.

If volunteering isn’t the right fit, there are also more general ways to help with this shelter-overpopulation epidemic. Sutton said that people can help by, “[Making] sure that if they do get an animal, it is spayed/ neutered, so they don’t go out and have babies.” Sutton also went on to comment that many people say that they don’t want to spay or neuter their animals and when the animals have babies, the owners can’t keep the babies and take them to shelters, which is also causing shelters to fill up.