A recent conversation with Jane Burlison, an Australian shepherd/Border collie rescue volunteer, brought up the tremendous problem this year with pet overpopulation.
The shelters in the Valley are overflowing and we all know what that means. The Payson shelter is also filled to the brim with puppies, kittens, dogs and cats. Jane and other breed-specific rescue people go to the shelters and try to save as many of these dogs as they can.
She said the hard part is making choices when there are so many. You look them in the eyes and have to say -- I cannot take you and by leaving you here, I am pretty sure you will die.
What can we do to stop this overpopulation?
People are peddling puppies in parking lots, from the back of their trucks and around town. Some claim their pups are American Kennel Club registered.
One way we can slow down backyard breeders and puppy mills is to stop buying their puppies. They need to spay and neuter just like the rest of us and should not be able to sell puppies as a way to make money. If you want to buy an AKC registered puppy, seek out a reputable breeder.
It is easy to look them up on the internet. No serious, respected breeder would be selling AKC registered puppies from the back of a truck. No respectable breeder would agree to bring a puppy to you.
If you have an un-neutered dog or cat, please give some serious thought to spaying and/or neutering.
If you are considering getting a dog, go to the humane society. There are dozens of dogs there waiting patiently for a loving home.
If you do not find what you are looking for, particularly if you are seeking a particular breed, go online to the breed-specific rescue group.
Each breed has a rescue organization. These dedicated volunteers work tirelessly to find these dogs before they are euthanized at the shelters, and then they work with them until they are ready to be adopted. As eager as they are to find homes for these dogs, they do screen families to make sure it is a good placement.
We do not need more puppies. People who allow their dogs to breed indiscriminately do not seem to care that these pups may never have a home. For some reason, they feel it is unfair to deny their dogs the right to have endless litters of puppies.
It might make an impression if everyone who allows their dogs to have puppies would be required to spend a day at the humane society, participating in the euthanasia of dogs and adorable little puppies. Watch them inject the needle and watch as the last gasps of breath are taken. It is not a pleasant experience.
There is a printout titled -- Is your dog breeding quality? It shows a diagram beginning with the question, Is your dog a purebred?
If not, get him or her neutered. If he is purebred -- ask yourself these questions: Where did you get him; from a pet store, an animal shelter or you found it, get it neutered.
If you got it from a breeder, did you get a three- to five-generation pedigree with your dog? If not, get it neutered. Are there at least four titled dogs, (conformation, tracking, obedience, etc.) in the last three generations, and if not, get him neutered.
If you have these titles, does he have a stable temperament, does he fit the breed standard and is he healthy and certified (OFA, CERF) free of genetic diseases. If he/she meets all the requirements, there is one more consideration.
You may have a dog of breeding quality. "However, if you are not active in showing or working your dog, think very carefully about your reason for breeding. Breeding should be done to improve the breed, not so the kids can see puppies being born or because you want a puppy from this dog. And never breed to make money selling puppies. Don't breed out of greed."
Another article clipped from a paper a few years ago shows a large trash can full of euthanized dogs and cats. It is difficult to look at the photo. The heading says -- "You can fix this." It continues "Every year, 25 million pets in the US are abandoned. They are killed as surplus, sold to laboratories or dumped on roadsides to starve, be run over or die from disease or abuse. This tragedy is caused by public indifference to uncontrolled breeding.
"Daily, more than 70,000 puppies are born in the US compared to only 10,000 humans. Simply put, there are not enough homes for them."
"One unsprayed female dog and one unsprayed female cat along with their un-sterilized offspring can be the source of more than one-half million dogs and cats within a seven-year period. It is no wonder less than 20% of our pets live out their lives in loving homes."
"Do your pet a favor. On average, sterilized animals live two years longer, are less aggressive and stay closer to home. They suffer fewer prostate problems and female reproductive diseases, including mammary cancer. You can prevent thousands of deaths and untold suffering by spaying or neutering your pet."
The above information was sponsored by the Coalition Zero 2000 dedicated to eliminating the unnecessary destruction of companion animals through public education.
Although this program is a few years old, the facts are the same, if not worse.
If each of us would take it upon ourselves to spay and neuter our pets and maybe offer to cover the cost for someone who cannot afford it, we could make a dent in this huge and terrible problem.
We do not need any more adorable puppies and kittens. We need to act responsibly to help solve this terrible and costly problem of pet overpopulation.
We hope to see you for Doggie Fun Day at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 8 at the Payson Event Center, Multi Media tent.
-- Christy Powers is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached via e-mail: cpwrather@ earthlink.net.