Dec 092007
 
Authors: Shannon Hurley

Pet overpopulation in Colorado persists despite strong efforts made by the state government and area shelters.

The establishment of The Colorado Pet Overpopulation Fund (CPOF) by the Colorado State Legislature in 2001 has made significant contributions in reducing the number of euthanized animals due to random breeding. Donations made to the fund support the promotion and financing of spay and neuter surgeries as well as public education for responsible pet ownership in Colorado. The voluntary charitable fund, however, can only do so much.

The increasing pet population has been especially obvious in Larimer County. “We do have a pet overpopulation problem in northern Colorado,” said Cary Rentola of the Larimer Humane Society, “we are seeing an increase in the number of animals that are coming to us.”

The greater number of stray and relinquished pets is disheartening considering the energy and resources the shelter has put into eradicating the problem.

“We spend a lot of time trying to educate about spay and neutering and really doing everything we can to make sure that animals in this community are spayed and neutered,” said Rentola, adding, “Some people see it as a costly expense to pet ownership but you’re choosing to be a pet owner.”

Amanda Arnce, a junior speech communication major realizes the importance of spaying and neutering for her pets. “All my dogs are [neutered] because I think it’s important to control the pet population. I have no intention of breeding,” said Arnce.

From January to October of this year, the Larimer Humane Society has taken in over 3,400 dogs and 3,500 cats, the majority of which were unaltered. Spaying and neutering a dog or cat is a necessary measure to pet ownership today, as the Larimer Humane Society estimates that 70,000 puppies and kittens are born each day in the United States.

Smaller shelters, such as the Fort Collins Cat Rescue, have also felt the implications of pet overpopulation in the local community, driving the “no-kill” rescue to expand and open a Spay-Neuter Clinic.

“If we are going to make a difference we have to make it so people can afford to get their pets spayed or neutered,” said Sarah Swanty, president of Fort Collins Cat Rescue.

Swanty’s founding partner, Anna Neubauer, now devotes her time to the rescue’s low-cost spay and neuter clinic, serving both cats and dogs with the help of volunteers.

“We can shelter as many animals as we want to but that’s not really getting to the problem,” explained Neubauer, president of Fort Collins Spay-Neuter, adding, “we thought by opening a spay-neuter clinic we could really help get to the source of the problem and be part of the solution.”

By providing surgeries at minimal costs to local pet owners, the clinic hopes to educate the community about the benefits spaying or neutering can have for both the pet’s and owner’s way-of-life.

Sarah Kormos, a junior landscape architecture major recently adopted an altered kitten. “I only paid the adoption fee at Fort Collins Cat Rescue, which was $90. It included his neuter. I think it was worth it,” said Kormos. The cost was outweighed by the advantages the surgery provided to her 5-month-old domestic cat Stroud.

Altering a pet will “increase their life expectancy, decrease certain health risks that are associated with reproductive issues, make them a better pet [because they are] less likely to wander, and are less likely to be aggressive to others,” explained Neubauer.

And cats who are not spayed or neutered “will have a much higher tendency to want to go outside because they have the urge to breed,” said Swanty.

Understanding the benefits of spaying or neutering and the implications of just one unaltered animal in the pet population will better ensure the safety and protection of Colorado’s domestic animals. Unfortunately, not everyone is educated about the problem.

“When people think about pet overpopulation a lot of times it’s something they have to see to absorb,” said Rentola, “we still have an incredible amount of work ahead of us.”

Larimer Humane True or False:

/ Spayed and neutered animals are fat and lazy: False; overeating and lack of exercise lead to obesity, not spaying or neutering.

/ Spaying and neutering is unnecessary for purebreds: False; one of four animals in shelters is purebred.

/ Males are not the source of the overpopulation problem-they don’t have the litters: False; one unneutered male can impregnate hundreds of females in the time it takes for a single pregnancy.

/ Sterilization is cruel: False; Surgery is done under general anesthesia and is very humane.

/ The expense of surgery is too great: False; domestication of animals is unnatural. Humans created an overpopulation of domestic animals that is our responsibility to solve.

/ The pet will miss its reproductive capability: False; little psychological evidence exists that animals miss their offspring when they are weaned.

/ The children need to see the miracle of life: False; sometimes death, deformity and difficult decisions go hand-in-hand with birth. Families are encouraged to volunteer as foster parents at their local humane shelter!

/ Animals can become pregnant while they are nursing: True; animals can become pregnant just 10 days or so after birthing.

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