“Please Don’t Breed or Buy While Shelter Animals Die.”

Ashley - Vancouver, Washington
Entered on May 4, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30

The average animal shelter euthanizes 15 healthy animals per week. Being the animal lover I am, I learned this first hand while volunteering one summer. I knew that the same animals I saw one day wouldn’t be there the next. ‘There are flaws with the system,” I told myself, “just like any other program.” There were some animals that were allowed to stay for a long period of time, one of them being Godfather, an 18 pound Himalayan cat. Godfather was beautiful, even if he was missing an eye and was morbidly obese. He was easy to spot and comfortable to hold. I learned first hand that his number, so to speak, had come up. It was kitten season and the cages were needed for more animals. It hit me. Hard. Godfather was amazing. He was scary in some sense, but nonetheless capable of being a best friend. Acting quickly, I immediately begged the director to reconsider. Nothing. Apart from breaking him out myself, opening the cage and making a run for it, there was nothing left. At this point, I began to curse humanity. I feel with a maddening passion that healthy, homeless animals shouldn’t be euthanized due to overpopulation. This I really believe.

Just as we don’t euthanize fellow humans for overpopulating, we shouldn’t force any living thing to die at our hands. Currently, there are 12 million animals in the United States that are euthanized every year due to overpopulation. These 12 million dogs and cats were healthy animals that just didn’t have a home. There are many ways to prevent the loss of animals. By spaying and neutering our animals, this prevents many litters of animals that would most likely end up in shelters across America. Many programs, such as Spay Day USA, help owners find low-cost methods of sterilization. It has been discovered that sterilization actually creates health benefits, such as reducing cancer risks.

Another thing we can do is adopt. Instead of breeding or buying purebred animals, we can adopt from non-profit organizations. A website called Petfinder.com helps people locate adoptable animals from such organizations. The Humane Society of the United States also has referral services that can lead you to your nearest shelter.

I have never doubted myself, knowing that I can always make a difference, especially if the right opportunity existed. The situation with Godfather made me realize that a severe injustice was about to be committed. I had one more trick up my sleeve, but also a serious time crunch to go along with it. I talked to all the staff members; some were uninterested in what I had to say, but most listened. I gathered 25 signatures from people who wanted the shelter itself to adopt Godfather. My last string of luck succeeded. Godfather became the official office cat of the shelter and still is today.

Animals truly are all the good things that mankind can offer, such as loyalty and pride, but without the vices or greed or revenge.