Paws for thought: Curb pet overpopulation by adopting from a shelter

By From page A4 | January 21, 2014

Moxy and Heeren familyW

Shelter dog Moxy enjoys a quiet moment with Isabella, left; Ethan, center; and Ben Heeren. Moxy was adopted just before Christmas and, according to Isabella and Ethan, she is “our best holiday gift EVER!” No doubt Moxy would agree. Courtesy photo

Puppies and kittens are cute, right? But what happens when they grow up? Every year, shelters across our country take in millions of stray and unwanted animals but nearly half of them are euthanized because they are not adopted. Sadly, shelter euthanasia is the leading cause of death for dogs and cats in the United States.

Ways to combat pet overpopulation:

* Spay and neuter your pets;
* Adopt your pets from a legitimate shelter or nonprofit rescue group;
* Consider the responsibilities and consequences of pet ownership and always make a lifetime commitment to your pet; and
* Educate children, friends, family members and co-workers about pet overpopulation, adoption and spaying and neutering.

Advantages for pets and people: Altered pets make better pets. Instead of wanting to roam in search of a mate, they are content to stay home with you. Pregnancy is costly and can be life-threatening. Then there’s the challenge of finding good homes for the litter. Remember those millions of pets that end up in a shelter? Why add to the problem?

Unaltered females can develop mammary (breast) cancer, pyometra infection and ovarian and uterine tumors. Males can develop testicular cancer as well as prostate problems. Unaltered pets roam, urinate frequently to attract a mate, and can become irritable, nervous and aggressive.

Local low-cost and free spay/neuter options: Yolo County SPCA provides help for dogs, cats and community (feral) cats. For details, go to www.yolospca.org and click options under “Low Cost Spay Neuter.”

Local veterinarians often offer discounts, too. For example, Animal Wellness Center provides 40 percent off spay/neuter surgeries on Fridays through February.

Happy Tails: The Heeren family lost their senior black Labrador two years ago on Christmas Eve. Recently, they began looking for a rescue/shelter Lab or Lab mix dog. After many email notifications, they received one that seemed a good match.

Isabella, 12, and Ethan, 10, went with their mother, Kristen, to the city of Sacramento animal shelter and wrote, “Our best holiday gift EVER! This was so easy … It started with an emailed picture with information about a dog. Our mom said that we would need to change our plans for the day and drive to Sacramento … to see if she was a good dog for us.

“We got there right when they opened. At first we were worried because there was already a line at the front door; we thought they might all be there for our dog. We went right in and asked about her. They told us to look in the kennels in two buildings, but she was not there. Then they looked in their computer and found her in another building.

“A nice lady brought her out to meet us. We got to play with her and learn about her. She was already trained — she knew ‘sit’ and ‘high five’ and was house-trained. We played with her for a while and then we got to take her home with us. She gave us a spectacular early Christmas gift and we saved a life.

“Our best memories so far — Ethan most enjoys playing tug-of-war with Moxy where she ends up pulling him along the hardwood floor when she wins! Moxy has given us much to do over our two-week break: we run her every morning first thing, we take at least two other walks and/or go to the dog park daily, we spend a lot of time playing games with her — tug-of-war, catch and chase — and we are learning how to train her. This is a whole family affair and everyone has done such a great job of pitching in.”

— Evelyn Dale of Davis is a volunteer and advocate for shelter animal welfare; her column is published monthly. Contact her at [email protected]

Evelyn Dale

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