A Problem of the Animal Adoption and Welfare
On August 18th, 2018, Carol Mithers worked on an article called “Are We Loving Shelter Dogs to Death?” The author is a writer of a book about dog rescue as well as poverty. The main focus of the article is mainly issuing regarding the care for pets in the United States. Some of the key points highlighted include challenges of adoption, effects of poverty, strategies of reducing shelter animals, and possible solutions to returned pets. This paper summarizes the major ideas of the authors as a basis for critical evaluation and criticism using various academic sources.
The author expounds on the challenges associated with adoption as the only solution to euthanasia. The reduction of pet killing by finding adopters and new homes is often appealing. However, the author says the reality is by far much complex. Adoption promotions are creating new problems such as impulse buyers as well as abusers. For instance, the writer introduces a sample story of a pit bull, Valarie who was tossed, rescued, and later pronounced dead just two weeks after adoption. The narration forms the basis of the article’s focus on problems encountered in adopting pets as a way reducing the numbers of killings.
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Moreover, the author introduces various strategies used in decreasing the quantity of shelter animals in the various facilities. The methods highlighted include extensions of shelter hours to provide an opportunity for those working long shifts at work with the hope for late night adoptions. In addition, workers and volunteers often post videos and pictures in the online platforms showing various admirable behaviors and environments of the animals to attract families and individuals. Lastly, rescue groups have taken the responsibility of training, grooming, fostering and finding homes for many shelter animals. These are some of the methods of increasing adoption identified by the author.
Poverty is the main cause of shelters fill according to Mithers. Owners surrender their pets due to financial pressure or family dysfunction. Poor families have other challenges which may include dog medications and reclamation fees. Despite the passion and desire to house and care for pets, their economic conditions do not allow them. The article recognizes some of the communities and states that are largely affected by issues concerning animal care. According to the author, the disadvantaged groups report high number of euthanized cats and dogs per year as well as highest levels of shelter intakes. For instance, South Los Angeles shelter which is characterized as an economically unstable area is one of the highly populated facilities. Nevertheless, North America is still listed as the most affected part of the United Stated in terms animal care challenges. Therefore, many animals continue to stay without homes due to poverty.
The author offers some solutions to the problems related to animal care. She hypothesizes that overemphasis on clearing the shelters is hindering the thinking that connect human and animal struggles. Some of the interventions implemented by some shelters include financial supports to families that are considering pet surrender. In addition, training and education on accessible and affordable medication to animals have been seen as productive tactics. The article makes recommendations of avenues to obtain help for struggling adopters.
It is true that adoption is sometimes the best solution to euthanasia but is faced with many challenges. It is a thought-provoking issue that must be critically evaluated. Staff members and rescue organizations often have the main aim of ensuring that cats and dogs in their care find new homes. Some of the strategies often involve adoption drives (Crawford, Heather, Fontaine, and Calver. It is common that such activities involve reduction in costs, requirements, and simplified procedures. However, from past experiences it is also common that some challenges are experienced such as mistreatment of pets or impulse buying by individuals. “Waiving adoption fees is the most controversial option, because of concerns that people attracted to low-cost or free adoptions may be less responsible owners who subsequently neglect or rehome cats, or use them for nefarious purposes” (Crawford, Heather, Fontaine, and Calver). Intention of adoption can be a hindrance to protection of animal welfare. Therefore, finding new homes for rescued cats and dogs is a more complex and challenging process.
Furthermore, shelters, volunteers, rescue organizations as well as governmental facilities have devised ways of increasing adoption of animals. Various events are organized regularly to find new owners and families. Shelters often employ some methodology used by firms and companies in marketing and promotional services. “…shelter would film or take pictures of the dogs in the rooms designated for the ‘home-like feeling’ and the obedience training” (Klemett 22). Some activities allow for potential adopters to witness the desirable characteristics of the dogs and cats. Social media platforms such as, Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram are used by these organizations to create exposure of the animals in shelters (Klemett). Adopters need to find an incentive to acquire the animals by interaction even if it is through their phones or computer. The little effort from volunteers and workers is the beginning of finding a home for a lonely animal that deserves a family and love. Shelters have always explored various strategies of ensuring that the maximum number of people has awareness on cats and dogs that are legible for adoption.
Moreover, I agree with the author conclusion that poverty is the cause of many shelters overcrowding. Poor families often adopt a dog or cat with the hope expenses would be able to relatively remain the same or rise with a small margin. However, some costs that arise due to adoption create the need to surrender the pet back to the shelter. A research done proved that, new owners would incur some extra expenses in caring for an animal. According to the study, “A total of 1,630 of 2,689 (60.6%) respondents had taken their animal to a veterinarian within the first week after adoption and 1,865 of 2,460 (75.8%) had within the first month after adoption” “Lord, Linda K”. The research is evidence to the financial pressures of adoption especially to under-privileged owners. Poor families would not afford such care since in most cases their budgeting do not allow for unplanned medical spending. In addition, they have other financial constraints that hinder provision of healthy environment for the adopted animal. Therefore, it is evident that poverty is a major cause for shelter fills located in many disadvantages’ communities.
A problematic issue from the article is the solutions to reducing the number of returned pets. Training and education are effective as well as realistic. On the other hand, financial assistance would be sometimes difficult to implement. “To optimize the human-dog bond, it is important that prospective dog owners’ expectations for benefits and challenges are realistic” (Powell). Educating the new owner of expected expenses, merits, and cheaper access to medical assistance has proven to be influential in reducing the return of adopted cats and dogs. Potential relinquishing owners often have mental strains about the satisfaction of their pet (Powell). It would mean that each time an individual visit a welfare organization to obtain financial for the adopted animal a greater deal of stress would have already affected the mind. Aid from shelters and other sources would not be enough to stop an owner from surrendering a cat or dog. A better solution would be to try and find a stable income for the interested family or person before they can adopt. It would be a more lasting alternative that ensure mental, health, and economical wellbeing of both the animal and adopter. Therefore, education and training is a feasible solution to reducing returned pets but provision of financial aid would just prolong the period before relinquishment.
The article, Are We Loving Shelter Dogs to Death presents some intriguing issues about animal care and welfare. The matters include problems encountered in finding new owners, poverty as an hindrance to successful, promotional activities by shelters, and implemented solutions to ensure decreasing number relinquished animals. I agree with all the ideas of the authors apart from provision of financial aid as a strategy of reducing the quantity of dogs and cats returned by families that cannot afford upkeep and costs associated with adoption. In general, the author wrote a reflective work that highlights some of the rarely published ones on common pet issues affecting many Americans as well as other people from all over the world.
- Crawford, Heather, Joseph Fontaine, and Michael Calver. “Using free adoptions to reduce crowding and euthanasia at cat shelters: An Australian case study.” Animals 7.12 (2017): 92.
- Klemett, Bryan. “Marketing Ideas that Could Improve Adoptions and Reduce Return Rates of Dogs in Shelters in the State of Michigan.” (2016).
- Lord, Linda K., et al. “Health and behavior problems in dogs and cats one week and one month after adoption from animal shelters.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 233.11 (2008): 1715-1722.
- Powell, Lauren, et al. “Expectations for dog ownership: Perceived physical, mental and psychosocial health consequences among prospective adopters.” PloS one 13.7 (2018): e0200276.