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Old 10-12-2008, 12:41 PM
 
203 posts, read 402,166 times
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Hi all....I have been thinking a lot lately about how the economic downturn is affecting humane and rescue efforts. Long story short, there has been a beautiful stray cat hanging around my neighborhood for a few months. He was obviously a well-loved pet, (he looks purebred Main Coon to me), and after diligently searching for his owner, it appears that no one is looking for him. There are several of us feeding him and looking for a new home, I tried taking him in but he is TERRIFIED of my dog, and panics, desperate to get back outside; the other two families who love him have members with cat allergies. We have a few hopeful leads on homes, and he is a beautiful, friendly cat who charms everyone he meets, so I believe we will find a place for him.

But, while I was checking to see if anyone was missing him, I went onto petfinder to check out local cat rescues and was devastated by the number of cats I found. Petfinder listings are the tip of a very large iceberg of, many cat rescues don't post there; some New England rescues have so many cats they don't have time to even post pictures and descriptions. Many older cats are there because of home foreclosues and moves.

I also checked dogs to see much of the same trend...while Massachusetts has a great spay/neuter rate, many dogs are being surrendered because families are losing their jobs and housing. I recently talked a friend out of buying a "designer dog" from a byber, and e-mailed her multiple petfinder profiles of poodle mixes, even puppies, looking for homes. It was one small thing I could do, and it made me feel better.

So, as layoffs and foreclosures devastate our communities, what does this mean for our companion animals? As humane organizations buckle under the sheer volume of animals being abandoned, how should we respond as animal lovers and as communities? Conventional wisdom has always been to consider adopting over buying a dog or cat...butI don't believe that will solve this crisis. Should communities consider mandatory spay and neuter laws? I don't believe that back yard breeding is the problem with cats, so I don't know what the solution to the cat crisis is. I do believe that, with dogs, responsible hobby breeders will respond to economic hardship by suspending/reducing their breeding programs, while puppy mills and bybers will likely increase.

Can we legislate against bybers to prevent more unwanted or neglected dogs from ending up in the shelter system? Should we fine or penalize pet owners who refuse to spay and neuter their dog or cat? Will shelters be forced to adopt some sort of triage approach toward incoming animals...immediately euthanzing those with behavior or aggression problems....so as not to run out of room? Should we demand stricter laws and regulations for animal breeders in general?

Sorry for such a long post...this has been weighing heavily on me lately. I cannot get over how many beautiful cats are looking for new homes when I put in my zip code in the petfinder site. I was curious as to how other animal lovers felt.
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Old 10-12-2008, 12:50 PM
 
5,093 posts, read 5,153,045 times
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It's so sad the issue you are discussing. Here in the Phoenix metro area, I hear that many people who forclose on their homes leave their pets to fend for themselves in the yard! The realtors end up bringing them to the Humane Shelter or else calling them.
The Phoenix Arizona Shelter is an amazing place, luckily, and most get new homes. They are really a good place, spay/neuter, microchip and give the pet a first free vet visit.
The problem is probably all over. I think like you do--fine those who do this, wherever they go they either pay the fine for leaving an animal like this or else. Make it like a traffic infraction where it follows you whatever state you go into. It's heartless that people can' t be decent enough to at least bring it to a shelter. We had a guy next door who did the same thing years ago (in another place we lived). The cat was in the yard and my husband said "What are you gonna do with him when you go?" "Oh, I don't kinow." My husband mentioned this to the other neighbor what was going on and she adopted him right away. We had 4 pets at the time, but would have somehow found him a home. The guy wasn't poor either, he was a captain at a prison getting relocated with a new job.
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Old 10-12-2008, 07:20 PM
 
203 posts, read 402,166 times
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I think cats are the ultimate "throw away" animal.....I am amazed at how many stray cats can be found in virtually every city and town. My sister is a property manager for a large apartment complex, and has been working in the field for years, and abandoned cats have always been a problem...people simply put the cat outside and drive away when they move.

I don't want to sound callous, because the finanacial crisis is affecting families, children and seniors, and I am just as concerned for my neighbors and extended family; I don't want to sound like I am not sympathetic to the problems that lead people to give up their animals. I just think that there needs to be some fundamental changes in the way we approach dealing with the problem, because I think it will become huge. I'd like to see laws inacted that would prohibit the sale of dogs and cats at flea markets and pet shops.....these impulse buyers are usually the least capable of caring for the animal. I think we need to stem the tide at the source and reduce for-profit breeding, while protecting responsible hobby breeders who are good stewards of their breed; if we can slow the glut of puppies and kittens being born, we have a better chance of absorbing the growing number of pets being displaced and abandoned.

There just aren't enough homes for all of the animals out there, and I am sad to think of all the wonderful, healthy, adoptable pets with great temperaments, that will end up abandoned, starving or freezing to death....or dumped in shelters and euthanized, simply because our shelters and rescue organizations will be strained to the limit and unable to handle the increasing number of animals.
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Old 10-12-2008, 08:12 PM
 
Location: Deep in the Heart of Texas
1,315 posts, read 4,635,804 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hepcat View Post
I think cats are the ultimate "throw away" animal.....I am amazed at how many stray cats can be found in virtually every city and town. My sister is a property manager for a large apartment complex, and has been working in the field for years, and abandoned cats have always been a problem...people simply put the cat outside and drive away when they move.
I was at a meeting of a large humane organization recently, and I was told exactly the same thing. While most people nowadays--at least in the Northeast--see the necessity of spaying and neutering dogs and providing them with at least minimal vet care, cats don't fare as well. People seem to think that tcats can fend for themselves if abandoned. Cats generally don't get the same level of veterinary care including dental care, flea control, heartworm preventive and neutering. It is very sad, and until cats are no longer treated as "second class pets" cats will continue to be euthanized at a much higher rate than dogs and the feral cat population will not be reduced.
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Old 10-12-2008, 08:57 PM
 
203 posts, read 402,166 times
Reputation: 414
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Originally Posted by leorah View Post
I was at a meeting of a large humane organization recently, and I was told exactly the same thing. While most people nowadays--at least in the Northeast--see the necessity of spaying and neutering dogs and providing them with at least minimal vet care, cats don't fare as well. People seem to think that tcats can fend for themselves if abandoned. Cats generally don't get the same level of veterinary care including dental care, flea control, heartworm preventive and neutering. It is very sad, and until cats are no longer treated as "second class pets" cats will continue to be euthanized at a much higher rate than dogs and the feral cat population will not be reduced.
Absolutely......I mentioned my sister's work as property manager, I believe it is not uncommon to find feral cat colonies close to apartment complexes. My sister's co-worker cares for the cat colony at the apartment conmplex she works at, and both my sister and her friend have adopted several of the cats. There is only so much they can do, however, as they live on site in relatively small apartments. I was really overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problem, and how desperately volunteers work to care for, foster, and try to place abandoned cats. I also think the fact that cats have relatively long life spans....up to 20 years...contributes to the problem. I think people just get tired of the committment.

I don't know what would work for helping curb the number of unwanted domestic cats...perhaps a public service campaign that would shock people into understanding the enormity of the problem? I once saw a film that showed animals being euthanized at a shelter, maybe that type of emotional appeal would sober people up. I think the public needs to see graphic pictures of what happens to abandoned cats; they die of starvation, disease, they freeze to death, are killed by predators, etc. I think it has to become socially unnacceptable to not s/n your pets, cats or dogs.
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