We all know how much Coloradans love their pets. We work side by side with them, take them on outdoor adventures and let them ride shotgun. Paradoxically, last year, nearly 33,000 dogs and cats were euthanized in shelters throughout the state because there simply were not enough homes for them.
These numbers extract a huge cost on our society, both to our wallets and our psyches. Taxpayers nationwide pay more than $2 billion each year to collect, house and kill unwanted pets. Less than 1 percent of that money is used to put an end to the crisis through spaying and neutering.
Petsmart Charities recently released the results of a nationwide study about attitudes toward spaying and neutering and pet overpopulation. It found that the pet overpopulation crisis was grossly underestimated. It also discovered that more than 50 percent of litters are accidental. People intended to spay or neuter their pets but were not aware of the appropriate age to do it or simply procrastinated. Cats and most breeds of dogs are being safely sterilized as young as 8 weeks of age, before they go into heat.
Here in Colorado, help is available from Spay Colorado www.spaycolorado.org; (877) 654-SPAY for those who do not have a clinic nearby. The Denver Metro area alone has more than 10 such programs, many of which are underutilized. Many of these programs are running specials this month to encourage pet owners to sterilize pets.
According to the Department of Agriculture, there are several counties in our state that euthanized well more than 50 percent of animals brought to their shelters in 2009.
In 2010, the three largest national animal-welfare organizations collectively raised almost $300 million. These funds generally do not subsidize local community animal-welfare programs. A $15 donation to your local spay-neuter program can cover the neuter surgery for one male cat belonging to a low-income family.
Please sterilize your own pets and encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same. These simple actions can end the suffering and death of thousands of homeless animals.
Wendy Haugen, Durango