On the comforts of dogs

Published 6:12 am Thursday, February 26, 2009

By Staff
The Washington Daily News is allowing the publication of guest editorials from select individuals and organizations on issues of local and regional significance. The views expressed by guest editorialists do not necessarily reflect those of the Washington Daily News, its owners or employees. If you would like to be considered as a future editorialist, please send an e-mail with your name and intended topic to: news@wdnweb.com.
Jack Wall is a volunteer at the Betsy Bailey
Nelson Animal Control Facility.
February is spay/neuter month! The Beaufort County Humane Society is making February a month for giving serious thought to spaying or neutering cats and dogs in the county. I was not aware of the problem Beaufort County has with pet overpopulation until I joined the Humane Society and began volunteer work at the Betsy Bailey Nelson Animal Control Facility on U.S. Highway 264 in Washington.
My wife, Ann, and I go once a week to clean out dog cages and runs. It is an aromatic job, at best, especially when there are puppies in the pens, but a job I love since it gives me a chance to interact with dogs of all kinds and personalities. I enjoy cuddling the little ones, reassuring the frightened ones and making friends with the cautious ones.
Most of the dogs just want to be out of their cages and in someone’s company. And why not? We’ve raised them for that over generations. Ask any hunter in Beaufort County who uses dogs in his sport and you’ll hear many tales about how well their dogs work with them.
The Humane Society from the start cautioned against attachment since the dogs don’t stay long at the shelter and we can’t take all of them with us. No one at the shelter, I think, knows just how much it pains me to go down the row of cages looking for last week’s dogs. Inevitably, there are empty cages or cages with replacements. I know I shouldn’t ask, but I do. This one went to a good home; that one has someone interested in her; and the others … well, they didn’t make it. “Didn’t make it” means they weren’t selected for adoption, but were put to sleep instead.
I also review each Wednesday the list of reasons people bring the dogs to the shelter. Unfortunately, many of the reasons dogs have to be euthanized are beyond our control. But there is one reason for euthanization that’s not: overpopulation.
Don’t get me wrong. In my mind, there’s nothing bad about having the county filled with litters of puppies so long as we can guarantee a good home for each of them. And, of course, that’s the rub: most of these puppies are unwanted. They end up homeless and often in undesirable situations because they became a burden through no fault of their own.
We need to think long and hard about allowing dogs to have puppies just for the fun of it. And about not preventing pets from producing unwanted puppies. Did you know that in six years, one female dog and her offspring can produce up to 67,000 puppies? Cats are also an issue: one female cat and her offspring can produce up to 420,000 kittens in seven years. You can see from the numbers that even if every home in Beaufort County took in just one puppy or kitten, there would not be enough placements for all of them! Many would still end up on the streets or in shelters. Our only recourse is to prevent unwanted litters.
So, in an effort to decrease the number of unwanted animals being born, the Beaufort County Humane Society is declaring February spay/neuter month. Special rates for spaying and neutering will be in effect for the entire month at all three animal hospitals. Call for appointments at the Chocowinity Veterinary Hospital at 946-9000; at the Pamlico Animal Hospital at 946-2834; or at the Tar River Animal Hospital at 946-2417. In addition, where needed, the Society will provide further financial assistance. Just give them a call at 946-1591. Be a part of the solution, not a continuation of the problem.