Each year in Australian Pounds, around 250,000 healthy cats and dogs are killed. It is extraordinary that so few people are aware of this fact. Why is this?
Cats and dogs are taken into Pounds for many reasons. Unless they can be reunited with owners, or re-homed with new owners or foster carers, they are most often killed.
The effort to find new homes is staggering. Organisations like RSPCA, Animal Welfare League, DoggieRescue.com and many, many others have to expend vast resources – people, money, time and volunteer effort in a massive and compassionate effort to save just a few of the animals.
Most do not get saved. For no reason of their own making, thousands end up dumped, surrendered, left and discarded in pounds who cannot cope, do not have the resources or choose NOT to develop the resources to rehome them all.
Anyone breeding puppies and kittens in large quantities, with no thought for their long-term welfare, and pushing them onto the market purely for profit, is a major contributor to the over-population problem. These animals are continually churned out from puppy farms, backyard breeders and mass production registered breeders. The vast quantity being bred is fuelled by the continuous demand to 'replenish stock' resulting from every impulse purchase via a pet shop, newspaper ad and the Internet.
The thousands of Back Yard Breeders (Mum and Dad backyard operators - unregistered and unregulated) across the country further contribute to the problem by producing many thousands of litters each year into the market. BYBs are a significant source of over-breeding with all the consequences that it produces.
The initial source of data is from Sydney Mayor and Independent MP, Clover Moore’s office, derived from statistics provided to Clover Moore by the Hon. Kerry Hicky MP; Minister for Local Government (October 2007). These were integrated with statistics provided by the RSPCA to produce the figure of 60,000 for NSW alone. Click here
for the detailed spreadsheet analysis for NSW.
Our own independent research - communications with Pounds, and the Local Government Department (Companion Animal Act) responsible for collecting data, extrapolation of NSW data, together with statistics collected from RSPCA, Cat Protection Society and Animal Welfare League arrive at the same magnitude of 250,000 for the whole of Australia...
There are no statistics available showing the total numbers of animals that are deliberately or accidentally BRED each year for the pet market industry. But we know that the number is sufficient to create a huge over-supply of dogs and cats many of which end up in Pounds with around 250,000 killed each year.
All you’ve got to do is to walk past any of the hundreds of Pet Shops you’ll find in any shopping centres and high streets across Australia and just look at the numbers of kittens and pups they have on their premises.
Also look at any edition of The Trading Post and observe page after page of ads for kittens and puppies. Where do they all come from?
They come from anyone breeding puppies and kittens, with no thought for their long-term welfare, and pushing them onto the market in large quantities purely for profit.
Sources of over-population of cats and dogs:
- Unregistered back-yard breeders
- Puppy and kitten mills
- Mass production registered breeders
- Families who let their pets "have the one-litter”
- 'Accidents' from pets not de-sexed
These are then sold (mostly for profit and not de-sexed) via....
- Pet shops
- Internet advertising
- Notices at the gate
Many are simply impulse purchases and don't end up in ideal and loving homes for the long-term. They are soon dumped or left at the Pound.
When people buy their pets from these souces, they are creating the market for more puppies and kittens to be bred for profit. This is the over-supply chain. By getting your pet from the Pound or a Rescue Centre instead, not only is it already de-sexed, but you are helping to break the supply chain and at the same time, saving a life!
Puppies and kittens are a marketing machine’s dream product. This characteristic will kill 250,000 of them, through no fault of their own.
Very pretty, furry fun bundles. Every child wants one – an impulse purchase nightmare for Rescue Agencies and those who care about the influx of animals to the Death Rows in Pounds across the State.
We quote from a Pet Shop Guide produced by the Entrepreneur Business Centre:
“The scenario is simple: Someone will walk by, fall in love with an animal and buy it. These sorts of impulse sales can add dramatically to your profits. First-time browsers in a pet shop will not necessarily jump at the thought of spending $450 to $500 to bring a dog home. However, if your shop is accessible and your sales and service ability is convincing, it will not be long before you convert walk-in traffic into buying customers.”
Everyone knows just how many unwanted pups and kittens end up in the pounds in the months following Christmas.
Steve Coleman of the RSPCA said on 2GB radio in an interview with Jason Morrison (Jan 2008) that the Yaguna Pound had 1,500 additional animals surrendered since Christmas.
It’s truly obnoxious that irresponsible breeders, pet shops and the one-off supplier push so heavily to increase sales of pets at Christmas time. It results in a massive influx of pets into the supply chain, with an annual predictable surge of inmates to the Pounds in the months following.
But not all – see Pets at Home, Melbourne
We call it 'euthanasia', 'putting down', 'put to sleep', 'destroy'...which somehow makes it sound acceptable. Whichever way you look at it, it still means the killing of a healthy life.
The vast majority of the public rarely see what is really going on.
There is no good reason why anyone would ever want to visit a pound or take their children to see the desperate faces through the bars of a pound cage. The only people who see the despair, desperation and death are pound and shelter staff and rescue volunteers. The public rarely see this.
It’s all nicely and conveniently hidden in remote parts of the cities and towns.
Fortunately we have some caring politicians like Sydney Lord Mayor and Independent MP, Clover Moore who are taking action to improve animal welfare in NSW and Australia.
However, State Government and many Local Councils must shoulder the blame for inaction and lack of real interest in creating the right regime of regulation to control the market. Also, the Pet Industry Association of Australia (PIAA) and the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) whose members profit from companion animals, but seem to have done little to alleviate this dreadful situation over the years.
Other people responsible includes anyone breeding puppies and kittens, with no thought for their long-term welfare, and pushing them onto the market purely for profit in large quantities.
And also anyone who has bought a kitten or puppy from any of the over-population sources listed above. Probably they just didn't realise the implication of what they were doing. So that's our job - to make sure everyone knows the facts.
The fact is that every time you buy an animal from a Pet Shop or a newspaper ad (mass production registered breeders and back-yard breeders), that's one less good home for a pound animal on death row - as well as encouraging more over-breeding. It’s that simple.
If you know someone who is irresponsibly breeding animals, you must speak out. We don't need more.
There are many reasons – it’s a complex situation.
Cats and dogs get lost or stolen, and their owners haven’t registered them or micro-chipped them. Many of the owners haven’t even put a collar or identity tag on them. Even a simple luggage tag will do.
People dump animals in the streets or parks because they no longer want them.
Sadly, there are much-loved animals who end up at the Pound or Shelter because their owner has died or had to go to a home or hospital.
Many people, if they have never had a dog or cat before, do not understand the time and resources they need to care for a pet for its lifetime. It becomes a handful and training and socialising become non-existant. Eventually the owner becomes so disillusioned with the animal that they surrender it to a pound or dump it. With this lack of long-term responsibility and knowledge on how to care for an animal, thousands of pets will find their way into pounds and will eventually die there.
Dogs especially need training, attention, daily exercise, mind-stimulation, medical treatment, socialising with dogs and humans, proper attention in kennels when you are on holiday. Every pet should be an integrated part of your family – not left on its own in the garden. It’s a full-on commitment for anything up to 15+ years.
Pet Shops and backyard breeders rarely if ever tell you about all this. Why would they?
Some people allow their cat or dog have “just the one litter”. This pushes more animals into the supply chain. Some get a good home, some don’t. Don't add to the overpopulation when 250,000 pets a year are being euthanased..
Gifts. Live animals should NEVER be given as gifts. Many recipients are unprepared and give up on them when the going gets too hard.
Some people move abroad and haven't the time or resources to find a decent, secure and long-term home for their pets.
These are all common sources for the 250,000 healthy pets who are killed in pounds every year.