by Soojin Um
The numbers are as stark as they are sad. Every year, across the country, around 4 million dogs are put into shelters. Each year, 1.2 million of those dogs are euthanized. That’s the reality that millions of dogs face every day. They’ve committed no crime, and yet they’re locked up and await an uncertain future. How is it that so many dogs have no home? Is there anything we can do?
The one bright spot to the numbers is that 500,000 dogs were just lost and are returned to their owners, and approximately 1.4 million dogs get adopted. That adds up to 2 million dogs that are saved, more than those that are being euthanized. A small comfort, but a comfort nonetheless. The lucky ones who get adopted tend to be “friendly” breeds though. Unfortunately, that also means there are many that are deemed undesirable, and those dogs face a grim fate. Half of all dogs that enter shelters are pit bulls, and nearly all of them (93%) are euthanized.
Why are so many dogs destined for the shelters? That is the correct word, by the way – destined – because the dogs didn’t choose to be abandoned, it was forced upon them by ill luck. So, what are the reasons? The most common reason is behavioral problems. Whether the owners admit it or not, most of the time when dogs are given up, it’s because the owners didn’t know how to deal with certain behaviors. Sadly, a lot of the time, those behavior issues could have been corrected through proper training, patience, and love.
There are other reasons why dogs are given up to shelters. If an owner gets a serious illness, and there is no one he or she knows that is able to take the dog in, that dog could find its way to a shelter. Often, a family member or friend will adopt the dog. However, if an owner does not have family or a close friend, there may not be an alternative other than a shelter or rescue service. There are also those dogs whose owners have passed away, and the surviving family members aren’t able to (or don’t want to) take the dog. This can be especially heartbreaking when life and fate deal such a heavy blow, to the dog and the owner.
Is there anything we can do? Yes, there is. If you’re looking to get a dog, consider adopting. People are often surprised to find the perfect dream dog at shelters, and yet it happens all the time. Even if you’re a hundred percent sure you want a certain breed, it doesn’t hurt to check out a shelter first. A quarter of all dogs in shelters are purebreds, so there’s a chance you could find exactly what you’re looking for. Shelters also have a wide variety of dogs, and of all ages. There’s bound to be a dog out there that is a perfect match for your soul. Not to mention you’d be saving a life. Who knows, maybe that special dog will save yours too.
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