What are some ways that we can Prevent Animals from Needing Shelters in the first place?
First of all, people need to become more responsible pet owners. Having pets spayed and neutered really does save lives. I was love to see licensed breeders be the only ones to be able to breed dogs. Along with that, they would need to be regulated and monitored for dog safety.
People also need focus more time on training their pets, this would eliminate the "returns" to shelters. Many people get dogs that they can't handle or get them as puppies and never bother training them. As they grow up and get bigger the people realize that they can no longer handle their dog.
I read somewhere a while back about an animal abuse registry, similar to the sex offenders list. I think that is a great idea and could save thousands of animals lives by making it difficult for irresponsible people to own pets.
And finally, education! If people were more prepared to care for animals before they got them a lot of problems would be avoided. No matter what type of pet people are considering if they don't know before hand how to care for and handle that pet it will likely end up in a shelter.
Education - of course, I'm biased as a professional educator and dog trainer. A large proportion of the animals surrendered to shelters are there because of lack of training. The dogs reached adolescence and people didn't know what to do with the dog to get it to "obey." Puppy classes are very important to educate new owners, especially about responsible pet ownership and early socialization. Veterinarians need to get on board about appropriate training referrals and behavior modification using modern, force-free methods. People need to be educated in how to select an appropriate pet and the costs involved. I provide education to young children whenever possible about bite prevention and dogs in general, including clicker training. I have also started a new program to educate young people about dogs and dog training using positive reinforcement. We need to educate everyone, but focus on children - who can help us educate their parents!
The best and the main thing is to spay or neuter your pet so there are not any unwanted pregnancies. Second thing is not buy from a breeder the more that people do not buy from a breeder will eventually put them out of business. Many cities and states do offer low cost or in some cases free spay and neuter clinics where you can get your pet spayed or neutered at a very reasonable price. Check with your local animal control and they should be able to give you information on where to go for these low cost clinics.
Each potential dog caretaker needs to avail themselves of adequate information regarding the responsibilities inherent with pets. All dependent life, be it a human child or animal, making the decision to be responsible for another life requires careful consideration. Anything less results in unanticipated surprises that land animals in shelters.
Leash laws help to inhibit unwanted breeding. Spaying/neutering insures that a proliferation of unplanned puppies do not end up euthanized in overcrowded, understaffed shelters.
Missouri, especially the rural counties, still harbor illegal puppy mills, where indiscriminate breeding, neglect, rampant illness and animals whose paws never touch grass, languish and die, often slowly. Unfortunately, as long as individuals continue to purchase animals from pet stores who encourage these abominable, illegal breeding practices through apathy or inexcusable ignorance, animals will continue to suffer. Anyone suspecting activity that suggests the presence of a puppy mill should contact local law enforcement or the local shelter.
There are responsible, legal breeders who follow the guidelines established to insure the best possibility of producing a consistent, genetically healthy line of breed specific puppies, The shelters have many healthy, rescued purebred and mixed breed animals needing a loving, forever home.
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