In an article published recently on their website, PetaUK noted that “Animal homelessness is a complex crisis, but the solution is simple: adopt animals from shelters or the streets instead of buying them from breeders or pet stores, and prevent unwanted animals from being born by always sterilising companion animals.”
Animal shelters in Port Elizabeth, Save-a-Pet included, are under increasing pressure to deal with the problem of unwanted animals. To the general public it may seem that the problem lies primarily with animals breeding unchecked in local townships and informal settlements, and this certainly is a huge problem. But many people who would consider themselves to be responsible and loving pet owners are contributing to the problem by allowing their companion animals to have “just one litter” of puppies or kittens before sterilising them.
There are a number of reasons given for doing this, among the most common being the belief that it is better for the animal’s health to have a litter before being sterilised – which is totally inaccurate – or that they want their children to learn about the miracle of pregnancy and birth through the experience – which is totally unnecessary, and actually selfish. It may be more valuable to give them a lesson in responsibility and consideration for the welfare of animals by not bringing puppies and kittens into the world where there are too many homeless animals already. To that pet owner it may be “just one litter” but to authorities and animal rescue and welfare organisations it is an added burden that is becoming more difficult to deal with.
In most municipalities, including the NMBM, it is illegal to have an unsterilised female dog on your property, but sadly, some owners never have their animals sterilised (for whatever reason they use to justify an unjustifiable course of action/inaction) and allow them to have numerous litters of puppies/kittens, giving them away “free to good homes”, selling them (on Gumtree even) or dumping them at a shelter.
When the female is in heat, in addition to the physical changes she goes though, she may undergo personality changes. Her condition will excite any intact male in the vicinity, possibly leading to fights and certainly leading to frustration and distress. The owner may think that keeping the female confined during this period is sufficient, but it really is playing Russian roulette with the animal’s health and welfare and being inconsiderate to their neighbours. Don’t underestimate the determination of an unneutered dog to get to a female in heat.
Unsterilised cats are even more difficult to keep contained, and owners should be aware that the risk of their roaming cat contracting Feline Aids is very high. Sexually transmitted diseases among unsterilised domestic animals is on the increase.
We appeal to prospective pet owners to visit your local shelter for your furry companion. Owners of cross-breeds will tell you that they make the best pets of all, but, if you have a preference for a certain breed of dog, why not adopt a rescue? There is behind the scenes networking and cooperation between Save-a-Pet and rescue organisations working with specific breeds that will help you find what you are looking for.
Please, please don’t shop – Adopt!
We encourage you to take some time to read the full PetaUK article here – http://www.peta.org.uk/issues/animals-not-abuse/homelessness/