Accidents happen. In fact, so many accidents happen that millions of dogs and cats enter animal shelters each year because they are unwanted outcomes of accidental pregnancies.
In 1967, the founders of PAWS opened a simple thrift store with one goal: to raise money to pay for spay and neuter surgeries in the hopes of ending the companion animal overpopulation problem. Today, PAWS has an on-site spay and neuter clinic where all dogs and cats adopted from PAWS are "fixed" before going to their new homes (almost 2,200 animals were altered in 2003). Over the past 37 years, PAWS has educated the public on the importance of spaying and neutering, worked with community partners to offer reduced-cost spay and neuter surgeries, and made sure that no animal adopted from PAWS contributed to the overpopulation problem.
Still, there are dramatically more animals than homes to care for them in our community and across the country. In order for every dog and cat to have a home, each person in the U.S. would need to care for seven animals. That means a family of four would have 28 animals living in their household. Instead, these animals are on the streets, packed in crowded animal shelters, or euthanized when there is no possibility of finding them homes.
To many, spaying or neutering their companion animals is as obvious a responsibility as feeding them. Sadly, many others do not realize how their actions as a companion animal guardian affect the rest of the animals and people in their community. The staff at PAWS hear a variety of excuses as they take in thousands of animals each year. "It was an accident. We don’t know how our cat gets out," "Our dog is so sweet, we had to let her have puppies," or "We couldn’t find homes for them all." Whether accidentally or intentionally, allowing companion animals to breed is irresponsible, unfair to the animals who already find themselves without a place to call home and burdensome to shelters whose never-ending mission is to care for them. The dogs and cats who do make it to PAWS are the lucky ones, thanks to a successful foster care program, the ability to find homes for 100 percent of adoptable animals and no euthanasia due to space constraints.
PAWS’ commitment to ending companion animal overpopulation is unyielding. We continue to educate school children, enlighten customers at our front counter, and use effective community outreach and publications to spread the word.
However, PAWS cannot do the work alone. Everyone who loves animals must join the battle. The first step is to spay or neuter your own companion animals. Then, talk to your friends, family, and neighbors about following your example. Encourage others to adopt their next animal friend from a shelter or rescue group instead of buying from a breeder, a pet store, or a newspaper ad. Lastly, through financial support of individuals like you, we will reach our goal of someday offering low-cost spay and neuter surgeries for the animals in our community, not just for the animals in our care.
Our furry, four-legged friends have protected us, comforted us, and given us immeasurable joy. In returning these gifts, we can fulfill the commitment we made when we brought them in from the wild centuries ago.
To learn more about spaying and neutering, to find resources, or to donate to PAWS, please visit our Web site at www.paws.org, or call 425.787.2500.