We are a nation of animal lovers that far too passively tolerates the killing of millions of homeless pets every year, most of which is underwritten by public tax dollars.

Sad but true

It doesn’t have to be this way and unlike most of the problems that we face as a society, ending shelter killing is not waiting in need of a high-tech or high-price solution. It is a simple matter of the choices that we and our friends and family make when we acquire a new pet.

According to data from the American Pet Products Association, next year somewhere around 17 million people will be looking to bring a new pet into their home. There are many more potential homes than shelter pets in need of a new one. The math is simple. However, translating that simple math into a simple solution has not worked for a variety of reasons, most of which are based on myths and misconceptions regarding shelter animals.

Numbers and misnomers

A recent survey revealed that while over 90 percent of Americans believe that shelter pets are lovable, companionable and sweet, 60 percent believe that they are poorly behaved, malnourished and unhealthy.

Surprisingly, young adults are 50 percent more likely than others to buy a pet rather than to adopt one, and 33 percent of respondents believed that shelter animals are less desirable than those purchased from breeders. We clearly have a long way to go when it comes to marketing shelter pets as what they are: loveable, friendly, family animals who deserve a chance at life.

SEEKING SHELTER: After being left by their previous owners, cats and dogs anxiously await the transition to their new forever home.


A pet in need

The truth is that shelter pets were once family pets whose family, for one reason or another, failed to live up to the commitment they made to their canine or feline companion. Some of those reasons are understandable; some are not. But the reason doesn’t matter to that animal. All the animal knows is that he or she wants to find another loving home.

I know it to be true that the vast majority of shelter pets are wonderful, loving animals waiting to complete someone’s family. My home is full of these animals that many regard as broken, or undeserving. All they need is that chance and they deserve it.