It is hard to grasp the magnitude of the pet overpopulation issue in Texas. All over the United States, it is a huge issue. However, the problem in Texas and other southern states seems to make up a large majority of the national problem. “Each year, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats“– ASPCA This number doesn’t include the amount of animals that are dumped and discarded on the streets where they eventually succumb to the natural elements, disease, starvation, or are killed by cars or people. Some statistics suggest that closer to 2.5 million animals a year are euthanized in shelters. The numbers are hard to determine with so many organizations involved in animal welfare, and until the last decade or so, record keeping was disorganized or just simply not done. Its safe to say, millions of animals are euthanized in shelters a year. Shelter euthanasia is the leading cause of death for companion animals in the developed world (ASPCA). This is a gruesome fact but, despite this century long cull of companion animals, pet overpopulation is still an epidemic.
So we rescue.
We pick them up from shelters when they are on their last hour, or we pick them up out of the ditches where they were discarded. We take them to the vet and go into debt trying to make sure everyone is spayed, vaccinated, and are cleared of any major medical issues. We love them, feed them and keep them safe, until a family comes along willing to love them, feed them and keep them safe for the rest of their lives. There are hundreds of us (rescues) in Texas, 250 are registered on the RescueMe website alone.
If there are 250+ dog rescues in Texas, why can’t we solve the issue?
There is this lack of responsibility, lack of education, and a lack of care towards companion animals in the South. A large majority of people see dogs and cats as nuisances or simply just as property and not as the sentient beings that they are. There is also a lack of education on the proper care of a companion animal. People do not do their research into certain breeds, or potential health problems, medical needs of a companion animal or even their cities specific requirements for owning a companion animal. There are so many animals roaming around that you can walk down the street and find yourself a stray animal to call your own, so people do not feel a need to seek out shelter animals. If they are interested in a certain breed, great, there’s a ton of backyard breeders to pick from.
It is a vicious cycle. These animals are bought with little research done, and then surrendered or turned lose after the owner’s realize they are in over their heads. There are not enough proper resources available to help these owners or using the resources takes more effort than just handing the dog over to someone else. So rescues fill up their few spaces quickly, but open new spaces slowly. Adoptions are hard to come by, so most of us rely on transferring to northern rescues where there are more adopters than dogs, but this can drain the bank. To open spaces when adoptions and transfers are slim to none, the only other options are fosters, boarding, or euthanasia.
Fosters can be just as hard to come by as adopters, and the animals need a plan so that you do not have a dog in foster care for years. Boarding is expensive, and long term is not beneficial for an animal. And lastly, Euthanizing a healthy, happy animal is NOT a humane option. It is not an economically or environmentally friendly option either. The proof that euthanasia is not the answer to the problem is in the fact that we have been doing this for over a hundred years now. If it was going to work, it would have worked by now.
The only way rescue will work, and the number of unwanted animals will be reduced is with spay/neuter programs, the licensing of breeders and more restrictions on breeders, and more educational outreach on top of the rescue efforts.
So we are choosing to be a little more proactive than just rescuing the animals. We will be writing blog post now with educational information, and sharing whatever resources we can with the community. We are looking into TNR programs for local cats, outreach programs for pet owners needing a little extra help through tough times, and more educational outreach options. We would love to see County Roads Rescue grow out of just simply rescuing, and into a program that our local community wants to be a part of! We are excited to continue growing and see what changes we can make for the companion animals and people in the Cherokee County area.