On the Dec. 15 episode of her satellite radio program, morality advice expert Dr. Laura Schlessinger did it again.
While giving advice on how to stave off loneliness over the holidays, she offered such suggestions as volunteer work, becoming more immersed with your religion, or adopting a pet.
At this point her diatribe took an obtuse turn as she related her experience of visiting a local animal shelter. She stated the shelter was full of pit bull and pit bull mixes, and went on to state:
“… I think they should all be put down. First of all, they were taking up space and nobody was going to adopt them. That’s why they were all there. People were getting rid of them. So, all this money, and I spoke to the ladies there, all this money is going to feed pit bulls.”
The reaction to her statements was swift and resulted in the issuing of the standard remarks of contrition of how “hurtful” and “distressful” the comments seemed. Despite the callousness of her remarks, the resulting firestorm does bring up a significant point regarding how we treat our pets in this country.
I originally came to South Florida to take a position as a shelter veterinarian, so I speak form firsthand experience. Unfortunately many of us treat our pets as commodities and items of conspicuous consumption. Shelters are full of pets no one wants – the former latest hot breed some questionably talented starlet carried around; the breed that makes the macho men look tougher; the dogs people wanted to get for their kids, who are more interested in staying connected to social media than they ever will be about a pet.
But there also are animals there as a result of truly tragic situations such as owners losing a job or illness. The circumstances are not helped by the problem of pet overpopulation. The reasons people give for not having their pets spayed or neutered can be astonishing. They range from something they just don’t think of doing, to men not wanting the procedure done due to some sympathetic, self-reflective imagery.
The facts are that puppies and kittens are not that easy to give away or sell and can be a significant investment when proper care and feeding are taken into consideration.
People allow their pets to breed with the best intentions, more often than not misguided and irresponsible, and the vast majority end up in shelters. People often think puppies and kittens will be adopted quickly. What they fail to realize is there are so many puppies and kittens in shelters, they literally become a dime a dozen while not remaining eternally irresistibly cute and cuddly. The chances of adoption for older dogs and cats are often pretty bleak. They may have behavioral issues and the size of some adult dogs tends to prohibit their finding a new home. So it comes down to survival of the fittest, i.e. the cutest.
The euthanasia rates at shelters are very high. The national movement of shelters becoming no-kill facilities is gaining momentum and is prominent in South Florida. While this movement relies heavily on owners taking responsibility and advantage of spay and neuter programs, it seems unstainable to me due to the sheer number of pets surrendered to facilities. While the no-kill shelter movement is supported by grants, many organizations are requesting funding form state and local governments, resulting in probable tax increases.
Part of the solution is for pet owners to spay and neuter their pets. It is a relatively inexpensive and safe procedure. Your veterinarian, local animal control agency, or humane society can perform the procedure for you or help you find low-cost or fee-assisted spay and neuter programs.
By the way, the “Dr.” in Laura is from a Ph.D in physiology, not psychology. So be careful which doctors you allow to advise you on your moral dilemmas.
Dr. Pierre Bland is the owner of “Dr. Bland’s Vet House Calls.” He can be reached at 954-73-8576 or doctorblandvet.com.