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Spay and Neuter: Unwanted Pets – a Worldwide Tragedy
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Every year millions of dogs and cats end up in animal shelters because their owners have abandoned them. Thousands more become strays. In the United States alone the number of animals entering shelters is estimated at more than six million annually. In human terms that is the equivalent to the population of some of the largest cities in the world. About half of the animals that enter shelters are killed, because they cannot be found homes. Globally there are tens of millions of strays.
You get some idea of the scale and risk of the overpopulation problem if you work out how many animals can be born from just one female cat and her offspring. One cat can have five kittens three times a year – these kittens reach maturity, have kittens of their own and so on. In this way, half a million cats can be born in a little more than seven years! One dog, her puppies and their offspring can produce more than 60,000 puppies in six years!
Spay and NeuterHowever, the overpopulation problem can and is being tackled. One of the most important ways is to have dogs and cats spayed and neutered. Spaying is the removal of reproductive organs from females. Neutering is the term for males.
People can help by making sure they spay and neuter their pets. It is also important to spread this message to family and friends. Animals that have been spayed or neutered may live longer healthier lives with fewer behaviour problems. They also tend to stay closer to home and are less likely to start fights with other animals.
Identity CrisisLack of identification is the main reason why the vast majority of lost dogs and cats are not reunited with their owners. This problem is easily overcome by providing pets with a collar and identity tag giving details of how to contact their owners. Now thanks to modern technology it is also possible in some countries to painlessly implant a microchip with the same information in case the collar is missing. Lack of tagging is the major reason why about 98 percent of lost cats are never returned to their owners.
Adoption from SheltersAnother way to help is for anyone wanting a pet to adopt a dog or cat from a shelter. This is a great way to rescue them and provide a future for an animal that has been abandoned. People must remember that taking on a pet is a lifetime commitment to that animal.
October 2nd to 8th is IFAW's Animal Action Week. Help IFAW and Jane Goodall improve the welfare of compaign animals around the world.
This information on this page has been copied from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) with permission.
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