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Thursday, July 24, 2014

An Introduction to Our Local Companion Animal Welfare Plight

Posted Tuesday, November 15, 2011, at 6:21 PM

I have been volunteering in companion animal welfare for many years and there is as great a need today as there was all those many years ago. I will say that in Bedford County we are much more fortunate than most of the other 95 counties in Tennessee. At least half do not have animal control or a humane in their counties. We have two animal controls and a humane. And there are even fewer counties who have a low cost spay/neuter clinic. We are, again, one of the fortunate few. There are many hard working individuals who help in these efforts, but there is still much work to be done.

Although there has been great progress in the areas of sheltering, adoptions and spay/neuter, where we fall short is education. So, I decided to blog in hopes of educating the community of the "tails" of trials, tribulations and triumphs of these people and those that they help. With more education, we can further reduce the animal population and the needless euthanasia of healthy adoptable animals.

Approximately, 3 million healthy and treatable dogs and cats will be euthanized in shelters across America this year. 25 percent of the animals in shelters are purebred. Currently, only 20 percent of pet owning Americans adopt from shelters or rescue groups. Statistics show most animals that end up in shelters are there because of "people issues" not animal behavior issues. Common reasons are the death of an owner, divorce, bankruptcy, allergies and lack of time. Those who enter shelters as pups or kittens are most often part of a litter where the owner of the parents did not practice spay/neuter, either because of lack of education or monetary constraints.

Right now, in Bedford County the adoption rates are improved by a monthly transport that takes animals to the north helping to reduce the euthanasia rates. This saves some, but there is not enough room for them all. In addition to this, the County has experienced a population explosion the past few years, which in turn has increased the number of pets in the area and the number that are destroyed.

Of the animals brought into our local shelters, 95% are unaltered. The majority are brought in as strays. Some are owner surrendered. Stray animals pose a real problem. They can frighten people, fight with other animals, cause car accidents, prey on wildlife and damage property. Having a pet altered cuts down on the number of animals wandering the streets. Animals live a much longer and happier life if they are fixed. In females, spaying, especially before the first heat, helps prevent uterine infections and breast cancer. Neutering a male before 6 months of age prevents testicular cancer. Spaying and neutering makes better behaved pets and aids in reducing the pet overpopulation.

To help end needless euthanasias the answer is simple. We must promote adopting animals from shelters and rescue groups and make sure animals are surgically altered so that they cannot produce unwanted litters.

I hope you will help me in this plight and look for my blogs as well as share them with your family and friends.

Showing comments in chronological order
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Great blog, I totally agree, we have to educate people and change their way of thinking. That will prove harder than most think but if we start in the schools SOMEDAY maybe we won't see perfectly healthy good adoptable animals put down because of lack of space and money. The Middle Tennessee Spay and Neuter Clinic is a great step in that direction.

-- Posted by Thatsmystory on Wed, Nov 16, 2011, at 8:21 AM

Very well said, Kimberly.

Spay/neuter is the FIRST step in preventing the vast overpopulation of companion animals but I think that, in the south especially, the prevelance of backyard/hobbyist breeders must be addressed.

My stomach turns ( and my redneck radar goes into full alert) when I hear individuals say that they want to breed their beloved pooch simply because they want a part of pet to remain after it dies, because he's well behaved, pretty etc., or, the worst, to make a little extra money. Most of these people have no exposure to heredity...save what they learned about Mendel and his peas from high school biology... and will NOT spay/neuter the pups before they join their forever homes. It would also ne a rarity if they reabsorbed the dog if the owner could no longer care for it.

And, YES, many dogs in shelter are purebread...thankfully, many are saved through breed specific rescue...and this reality is one in which the public must become more aware. Many are GOOD dogs - they're just in unfortunate circumstances due to legitimate human hardships or to human ignorance.

We almost made the mistake from buying from a breeder - a reputable, nationally recognized individual - but a friend encouraged me to take a look at Malamute rescues first. In truth, I was rather ill-informed about the work that these rescues do in order to be sure that the animal is healthy enough and socialized properly to go to its forever home. We found Northern Lights Sled Rescue in Indianapolis and I thank God everyday that we did.

Loved this article, Kimberly. Thanks for posting.

-- Posted by malamutemom on Thu, Nov 17, 2011, at 9:17 AM

Excellent post. Both our dogs are rescues. One is purebred (chihuahua) and the other is, to quote Mark Twain, "He wa'n't no common dog, he wa'n't no mongrel; he was a composite." Both dogs are wonderful companions and alert watchdogs.

Please, please: Spay/neuter your pets. The world is in no danger of running out of them. So many dogs and cats are sitting in shelters right now, crying for a home. Purebreds, mixed-breeds, big and little, fluffy and sleek, young and old. If you really feel you need a pure-bred, then like Malamutemom suggests, look on-line for rescuers that specialize in rescuing the breed you want. Let's get these animals out of shelters and onto laps and old sofas and fireplace rugs, where they belong.

-- Posted by Bird on Fri, Nov 18, 2011, at 2:06 PM

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Tails of Trials, Tribulations and Triumphs
Kimberly Warren
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Kimberly is avid companion animal welfare advocate. She helps to educate the community on animal issues relevant to this area and is involved in organizing the efforts of others who have the same passion.
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