By Daisy Figueroa |Staff Writer|
Stray dogs and cats can be seen wandering the streets looking for shelter, water, and their next meal. Pet abandonment and overpopulation are issues ever too apparent in the Inland Empire (I.E.) and across the U.S.
The desire to be a pet owner is reasonable. Research suggests that caring for a dog provides health benefits for owners, as is the case with cats. A pet becomes a part of the family, a best friend and loyal companion.
However, according to the ASPCA, there are over 6.5 million animals turned into shelters each year in the U.S. alone.
Millions of these pets are abandoned each year because some owners fail to responsibly care for them.
These types of owners find themselves faced with issues that they did not anticipate or prepare for.
This can include: erratic behaviors, aggressiveness, growing larger than expected or health-related problems.
Another leading cause of pet abandonment is that owners’ do not neuter their pets, often resulting in unwanted litters.
Often times there are not enough willing homes to provide space and care for new puppies or kittens.
Unwanted litters are then placed in shelters or worse.
Spaying and neutering your pets are other simple ways becoming a responsible pet owner.
Reduced numbers of unwanted litters could dramatically decrease pet overpopulation.
Animal breeding leads to the same result.
If there are no customers for the animals they too are, unfortunately abandoned.
Some abandoned animals are given to shelters, while others are forced to survive on their own on the streets.
San Bernardino County’s animal control shelter feed and care for stray abandoned, unwanted, and mistreated animals daily. They also actively work to find homes for shelter animals unclaimed by owners.
“We respond to all cases of animal abuse and neglect,” said a customer service representative from San Bernardino County’s Animal Control. “But abandonment and stray animals are still a big issue,” she admitted.
Despite their best efforts to keep stray animals off of our streets, the truth is that there are just not enough good homes to take in a number of abandoned animals in the I.E.
We can address the issue of pet abandonment by working to encourage people to become better pet owners.
Lupita Alvarez of the Fontana Animal Hospital witnesses pets come into the clinic after facing neglect and abandonment.
“Pay attention and take care of your pets like children,” Alvarez said. “They’re innocent. Just please don’t give up on them.”
Owning a pet is a huge responsibility that should only be reserved for an individual that is ready.
Pets require not only the basic needs like shelter, food and water, but they need attention and love as well.
Shelters remain full with kind, loving animals desperate to find their forever homes. Many of these animals, unfortunately, never get the chance to leave the shelters.
About 1.5 million animals in shelters must be euthanized each year in the US due to overpopulation in shelters, according to the ASPCA. As residents of the I.E., we can make sure we are each doing our part in being responsible pet owners.
By spreading awareness to our neighbors and family members about the issues of pet overpopulation and abandonment, we can greatly eliminate these issues.