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Animal Shelter Appreciation Week 2017

Dave Parker [Flickr]

Until we are able to control the pet overpopulation problem, we will have a need for animal shelters, and for the dedicated people who work or volunteer there.  

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Across America there are 85 million households in this country that have at least one pet - many of them more than one, because over 160 million dogs and cats are living in those households. Statistics tell us that about one-fourth of those dogs and cats were adopted from animal shelters. The others? Well, some came from breeders, pet stores, friends and neighbors, some from litters of pets already living in the household, and some were foundlings - the lucky strays who managed to find kind-hearted humans to take them in.

National statistics show that approximately one and a half million shelter animals are euthanized each year. A lot of folks mistakenly blame the shelters, when it’s us, the humans, who have created the problem. You see, there are just too many dogs and cats and not enough homes for them all.

Today marks the end of the 2017 National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week, an annual recognition of the valuable service animal shelters provide to our communities. For example, they are a haven for animals who have nowhere else to go, animals who are lost, scared, hungry, injured. They help people too, reuniting them with their lost pets, enforcing local animal control laws, and assisting folks in finding companionship by adopting new animal friends. The staff of your local animal shelter is there when you call about a concern or an issue regarding animals, whether it’s about pet behavior or pet care, even questions about wildlife.

It’s important to remember that it is us, the humans, who created the need for animal shelters - those who let their pets run loose and unsupervised - those who let their pets breed indiscriminately and neglect to have them neutered or spayed.

Unfortunately, much of the time the important work done by animal shelter workers and volunteers goes unnoticed and unappreciated. But once a year we pause to say thanks to them for caring enough to be there for us, and for the animals, when we need them - especially when we’re speaking of pets.

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Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.
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