Ignorance of Breeding

There are two breeds that of their own volition would pose a threat of overbreeding animal shelters:  the poodle and the pit bull.  Let’s face it poodles are likely to breed with anything.  Fortunately they mostly choose to mate with a pants leg; that generally does not spawn offspring. 

Pit bulls, on the other hand seems to be attracted to anything on four legs.  Animal shelter employees do not wish to call an animal a pit bull mix because that term diminished the chances of the animal getting adopted, but the phenotypic broad forehead of the breed seems to identify itself within the genetic make of most dogs entering an animal shelter.

Since poodles present little risk of overpopulation in an animal shelter, pit bulls do present a risk.  I have always been in favor of creating an ordinance that demands the sterilization (spaying or neutering) of any breed that causes the greatest risk of overwhelming an animal shelter.  In today’s age, that would be the pit bull.  The pit bull is the hardest breed to place and for that reason they take up the largest portion of our shelters.  One of the biggest complaints that we hear at the animal shelter is that there is no selection to choose from, “All the have are pit bulls!”

Pit bulls originally became a problem because they attracted the worst kind of pet owner.  The fact that pit bulls remain a problem is that the breed is still attracting owners who refuse to take actions to stop the reproductive potential of their pet, whether by sterilization or by isolation.

It is easy to point out ignorant people at the intake side of an animal shelter, these are the folks that think they are giving you a gift when they are dumping their litter of puppies (or kittens) on you.  Every shelter experiences a group of their citizens that like clockwork deliver their litters to them.  All of the explaining in the world cannot breach that thick layer of ignorance that surrounds these people.

Maintaining Herd Health

Most veterinarians will tell you that the best way to keep your shelter animals health is to keep your animal population low.  In today’s world of No Kill, people don’t want you to euthanize any animal, even aggressive animals, if you have open cage space.

Some foolish States created laws preventing the euthanasia of shelter animals if open cage space is available.  The people creating those laws did not have the common sense to understand that open cage space is necessary to provide for incoming animals.  Without open cage space, every new animal intake would create a crisis: do you force the doubling of animals in cages or quickly euthanize an animal to make space on every intake?

Maintaining an animal shelter at full capacity creates stress on the animals.  Animals under stress are more likely to get sick.  A shelter full of sick animals is a shelter’s worst nightmare.

Even shelter maintaining the proper population balance will hit a crisis when animals are dumped on them from natural disasters or hoarding cases.  Usually longer holding periods will be required during natural disasters in hope of the pet’s owner returning home.  Hoarding cases often require holding periods to get the owner through the court process; these holding periods could easily exceed months.

The business of animal sheltering frequently forces shelter management to move from one crisis to another.  When tough decisions are made to manage the overpopulation at an animal shelter, the No Kill folks will be first to criticize the those decision when they see an empty cage.