The Humane Society of the US estimates there are 135 millions cats and dogs in homes in the US. Shelters in the US care for six to eight million dogs and cats each year. Three to four million cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters each year. That’s half of all the cats and dogs in shelters. These statistics do not account for smaller/more local shelters who may not report their activity to the Humane Society and does not take into account many private rescue organizations.
Why so many homeless animals? Twenty percent of the animals currently in shelters were there before. Someone adopted them and somewhere along the way changed their mind. Owning a pet can be overwhelming and many return the animals due ‘buyers remorse’. Other contributing factors include economic struggles, relocation or dissatisfaction with the specific pet. Other pets in shelters show up there on their own as strays. Some are brought in as a result of mistreatment and abuse.
Whatever the reason, no matter where you live, there is an animal close by who needs love. Unconditional love, the type of love that is forgiving and everlasting. Owning a pet is a huge commitment. They need you for almost everything. If you don’t walk them or exercise them, many will use their pent up energy in a way that makes you unhappy. If you don’t let them out, they may have accidents in the house. If you don’t feed them, they will seek food that you don’t want them to eat. If you want them to behave in a certain way, you owe them the due diligence of consistent training. Food, vet and supplies for a pet cost money. It’s a partnership, you are a required participant in their well being. The benefits of loving a pet are unending and while it would be easy to give ten pluses for every challenge, at this point in the decision to adopt a homeless pet the benefits are not going to be as apparent.
You have to realistically commit to the work. The joy comes afterwards.