By Abby Allen
According to a survey from 1997, then estimated out to fit today’s statistics by americanhumane.com, in the 1,000 shelters who responded, 4.3 million animals were admitted. Of those 4.3 million, unfortunately only 15.8 percent of dogs and two percent of cats are reunited with their owners after entering shelters, and roughly a mere quarter of the rest are adopted. The rest are euthanized: killed simply because they were there and no one wanted them.
According to petmd.com, common euthanasia solutions are a combination of chemicals that allow an animal to experience a quick and painless termination of nerve transmission to the brain. The animal is not aware of what is happening, and is in no pain during this process.
With all the animals in the shelter, some are euthanized, or painlessly put to death for their own good; don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s the best thing for them. This number is too high because, according to American Humane, these animals wind up dying due to illness, or injury. The use of euthanasia in situations where animals are sick and can spread disease amongst other animals in the shelter is the best way to contain a disease.
Overcrowding in shelters can also result in aggression, as animals don’t know where they are or what is going on, and they can get so scared that their mental states become unstable and unhealthy.
Living in that condition where their owners aren’t likely to come back and they’ll most likely catch a disease from another animal, it’s in their best interest to let them go.
Most animals in shelters are there because their owners didn’t have ID tags or chips on them, and they were never able to find their missing animals again. It is unbelievably important to obtain ID tags and chips in addition to taking your pet for regular check ups so euthanization becomes a rare and last resort.
Americanhumane.org advises all pet owners to properly ID their animal so they can be returned to them when they get lost. Animals need to obtain ID tags, rabies vaccine tags and microchips that will allow identification, and they can easily be returned home with a phone call. This enables more pets to be reunited with their families, thus reducing the amount of animals being euthanized in a shelter.
Please don’t assume your pet doesn’t need tags because he or she lives indoors because animals escape all the time. This irresponsibility leads to thousands of animals that will ultimately die waiting to be rescued. Owners’ lack of responsibility with their animals is a leading cause of overcrowding in shelters.
As shelters become overcrowded, euthanization becomes the only choice for their health, especially for aggressive or ill animals. However, in the cases that can be helped, like large litters of kittens and puppies, euthanization shouldn’t be necessary. Over littering can easily be handled with spaying or neutering an animal so they cannot reproduce, thus keeping new puppies and kittens off of the streets, and out of pounds.
Many clinics across the U.S. provide affordable spaying and neutering services, such as American Humane and the FACE clinic in Indianapolis. This clinic provides low cost spay and neuter services to ensure animals’ health and to aid in over-population of puppies and kittens.
Euthanization should be reserved for animals who need a humane way to be released from their pain. Forcing a pet to live in pain due to injury or illness for a long period of time would be so much worse than the little IV that calmly relieves the pain and frees them from their suffering. Another way to protect your pet is to make sure the animal is well fed with proper food (no spoiling with table scraps!) and harmful objects are kept far from their reach (Lilies for cats, chocolate and raisins for dogs are a few examples).
Euthanization is a necessary evil in the saddest of cases. Sick and scared animals in a strange place they don’t recognize should not be pushed to insanity when they have such a low quality of life. Not only is it necessary to contain diseases in shelters, but it also keeps animals from biting and harming one another because they feel threatened. Euthanasia itself can be avoided in some cases with simple checkups and vaccinations so your pet doesn’t become terminally ill to where that is the only option. Pets are like people in this way; they get sick and scared and need to be taken care of in the best way possible.