BY DARIAN TRABOLD

Web Managing Editor/Web Sports Editor

With COVID-19 forcing many Americans to go into quarantine, many were looking to add a new furry friend to the family. Pet foster and adoption rose to unprecedented numbers during the pandemic, as many sought companionship and comfort during these challenging times. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), from March 15 to the end of the month, they saw more than 600 people complete online foster applications for their New York City and Los Angeles foster programs. This year alone, the ASPCA saw a 70% increase in animals going to foster care. While the rise in animal adoption is fantastic, there are still severe issues affecting animals that we cannot ignore because of a pandemic.

Overpopulation of animals has always been a massive problem for the animal community; there are an estimated 70 million homeless cats and dogs struggling to survive in the United States. Each year shelters only admit 10% of the large homeless animal population. Of the millions admitted, shelters euthanize least half of the homeless animals for humane reasons or because the shelters are unable to find a suitable home. Despite these depressing statistics, there is a solution to this problem through spaying and neutering. However, due to the pandemic, there has been a moratorium on these simple, low-cost procedures, which could lead this year’s kitten and puppy season to be overwhelming for rescuers. People must spay or neuter the animal immediately to do their part in fixing the overpopulation problem. However, there is another issue contributing to overpopulation, breeding.

There is no such thing as a “responsible” breeder when they all fuel overpopulation. Whether they are “responsible” breeders, puppy mills, or “backyard” breeders, they are all part of the problem. No matter how kindly a breeder treats their animals, as long as there are animals still lacking homes or are in shelters, breeding will never be “responsible.”  Breeding and selling animals is a greedy and disgusting process because animals are being euthanized in shelters every day and there is a critical shortage of good homes.  Every time someone purchases a kitten or puppy from a breeder, an animal in a shelter dies. Responsible breeders are the ones who spay and neuter their animals and decide to leave the breeding business. Moreover, producing animals for a certain look or characteristic can be extremely harmful to the animals themselves. Dogs and cats do not care about their appearance, yet they suffer from the beauty standards humans put on them. Inbreeding to create “purebred” animals leads to serious genetic defects such as crippling hip dysplasia, blindness, deafness, heart defects, skin problems, and epilepsy. There is no excuse for supporting breeders, if someone truly wants a companion and friend that a pet brings, it does not matter where they come from or what they look like; they are all capable of being that special pet someone needs. 

Adoption is the only compassionate way to get an animal. There are still millions of animals in shelters who need a home. When people go to a shelter, they will see cats and dogs’ tails wagging and hearts filled with hope, looking out through the cage bars, just waiting to find someone to love. When finding an animal companion, new ones are added to shelters every day, and when someone adopts one, they are not only gaining a friend, they are saving a life.