Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sad Statistics - The Naked Truth

A couple weeks ago my daughter, Stephanie, adopted a chocolate Lab (she named her Lola)  from a kill shelter in Jasper County, Georgia. This sweet, 1-year-old girl, slated to be euthanized, had been found wandering up the interstate highway with six puppies trailing behind. Three of the pups were stuck by a car and killed. One was badly injured and not expected to live. We do not know the fate of the remaining two pups.

Here is Lola the night Stephanie adopted her.  Vastly undernourished, but still sweet tempered and beautiful:

It was on that night that I learned this chilling statistic: 10,000+ dogs and cats are euthanized in the state of Georgia every month, 120,000+ per year.

10,000+. Every. Month.

120,000+. Every. Year.

Just in the state of Georgia alone.

These numbers broke my heart. I hoped the statistic was wrong so I checked it out. What I learned is that the number is likely much higher. The 10,000+ was derived by a survey of shelters in Georgia counties; however, many of the counties declined to report. 

Here are the numbers for the U.S. in total, taken from the Humane Society's web page:

Estimated number of cats and dogs entering shelters each year:

6-8 million (HSUS estimate)

Estimated number of cats and dogs euthanized by shelters each year:

3-4 million (HSUS estimate)

Estimated number of cats and dogs adopted from shelters each year:

3-4 million (HSUS estimate)

Estimated number of cats and dogs reclaimed by owners from shelters each year:

30 percent of dogs and 2-5 percent of cats entering shelters (HSUS estimate)

Estimated number of animal shelters in the United States:

3,500 (HSUS estimate)

Estimated percent of dogs in shelters who are purebred:

25 percent (HSUS estimate)

Unless otherwise indicated, statistics provided by The National Council on Pet Population, Study and Policy.

The good news is that many animals are adopted and spared; but the number of dogs and cats euthanized is still unconscionably high at 3-4 million.

One huge reason for these numbers is the refusal of so many pet owners to spay and neuter their dogs and cats. Please---if you have a dog or a cat and you do not intend to deliberately and responsibly breed them, choose to spay/neuter. Please. Don't contribute to the 3-4 million.

So how is Lola doing? See for yourself.  Here she is sacked out on the couch with Chutsky (those white splotches are the bald spots from her malnutrition and time in the shelter):

And here is Lola playing in Stephanie's backyard with McGee:

Lola will be spayed before the end of the month, and she now has an implanted microchip for identification purposes. Her coat, which was dirty with patches of missing fur, is now sleek and shiny with the bald spots beginning to fill in. She has already chewed holes in the TV remote, much to her own delight, and developed a special fondness for racquetballs. She is gaining weight and learning to play with her pack-mates in accordance with their diminutive size. Lola had a rough journey, but she finally found her forever home.

To love and be loved is really all our furry companions desire. I don't think that's asking too much, do you?

Love your pets? Please, spay/neuter. It's the right thing to do.

See you next for Book Blurb Friday -

P.S.  When my daughter told me Lola's name the feminist in me became disgruntled. After all, Stephanie's two other dogs (miniature Dachshunds) have criminal justice names:  Special Agent McGee and Federal Agent Chutsky, What happened to Lola's title? What is she, their secretary? And then it hit me. Of course! Lola is the canine equivalent of James Bond's Miss Moneypenny. She doesn't chase down the bad guys, but she knows where all the bones are buried. Ha!


  1. What a delightful story about Lola, but the rest of your post--horrid. Not horrid as in horribly-written, but horrid as in we-should-be-ashamed-of-ourselves statistics.

    Spaying and neutering is necessary, until we can bring down the number of dogs and cats born each day...each week...each year.

    Lola is lucky, and knowing what Labs are like, I'm sure she will have many adventures.

  2. I'm so happy Lola has a wonderful home. The way you feel about the orphaned animals is how I feel about all the adoptable kids in the world. both issues seem insurmountable and are heartbreaking. Here's hoping humans will take responsibility for all the babies (2 legged and 4 legged).

  3. Your story was like being on a see-saw. Downright sickening about the horrors, but so uplifting about Lola, She's a cutie. That picture of the two dogs with the stick should win a contest. It is precious.

  4. Hi Lisa! Awwww, Lola is a very lucky girl. I never have understood WHY people don't automatically get their pets "fixed." If it's the expense, I can relate. Are there places that offer spay/neutering for N/C? Or for minimal fees? Whenever I see dogs on TV, waiting to be adopted, I want to take every single one of them! But, of course, that is not possible! One more thing, one of my little nieces named her dog Lola! It stands for: Lots Of Love Always!

  5. What a good story to start my day! Just this week, I used Petfinder for a search. Going to shelters reduces me to such tears and angst because I can help them all. Thought online would be better...maybe some, because I cried here at my desk without a witness at least. Lola is lucky for sure...

  6. It seems like such an easy fix (no pun intended)for the overpopulation of pets. And yet we can't make people be responsible...we CAN be thankful that there are people like Stephanie who'll take in a wonderful dog like Lola!

  7. You've clearly raised a compassionate, loving daughter! It's hard to read those statistics about how many animals are put down, but it's buffered by the joy I feel when just one is given a forever home! I thought of my neighbors when I read this. One family lets their dogs give birth every year and another does the same for their cats. It's maddening because they don't take care of the babies that come! Anyway, congrats to Steph on Lola!!

  8. These are indeed shocking statistics. Thanks for opening my eyes to the problem. You daughter is a gem, and Lola and the Special Agents are all very special.

  9. you did a great job raising steph and she has such a compassionate heart!! lola, mcgee and chutsky are all very lucky!!

  10. Oh, what a sweet heart that Stephanie has! Lola is beautiful, and though her life wasn't good until now, I know that she will be forever grateful.

    Thanks for this great article, Lisa. That is so sad that so many super animals get put down.

    Kathy M.

  11. I read all the parts about Lola (so sad about the puppies) but I couldn't face the statistics after the first line.
    Lola has a beautiful, sweet face. My sister used to raise Chocolate Labs and they are good dogs.
    Love to Lola, and to Stephanie for saving her, at the risk of her TV remote and all.

  12. Sioux - She's such a sweet-natured pooch. I've no doubt I'll be sharing some of her adventures here at Writing in the Buff.

    Tanya - I guess it all comes down to having a heart for the innocent among us.

    Linda - I truly was horrified at the numbers. My sadness is immense. Our dogs are rescues, and the thought that either of them might have been put down breaks my heart. Lola definitely got lucky. She's gone from being homeless to being one spoiled girl!

    Becky - The cost may have something to do with it. I know here in Georgia there are places that do it cheaper than a private vet. Our vet gets over $200 to spay/neuter; my daughter found a shelter that charges only $75, so they're out there. I'll have to look into it and do a follow up post to this one. Thanks.

    Claudia - Online is emotionally easier, I agree. Good luck with you pooch search!

    Cathy - Thanks. Steph will end up with the county limit of 7 if she's not careful. LOL

    Deb - Thanks. And congrats back at you for #7!

    Michael - Thanks. The numbers are staggering, aren't they? I never knew. And now I'll never be able to forget. *sigh*

    Kristin - Wait til you get down here and meet the new addition. She'll melt your heart.

    Kathy - It is sad, and so unfair. I'll never understand people who don't take better care.

    Kay - I don't blame you. I sat here and cried when I saw that listing. Lola's a real sweetheart of a pooch, no question. She's a very loving girl.

  13. Shelters have been preaching the spay-neuter message for years. If people would only listen!

    Bless your daughter for rescuing sweet Lola. I'm sure she'll be repaid a thousand fold with love.

    Critter Alley

  14. We took in our pup Juno after someone dumped her to die on my mom's rural road. She was not even six weeks old yet, and nearly starved to death. Last month she got spayed and had her shots, all for around $150, at a vet out here in Backroads. That was cheaper than I expected.

    We have five cats and three dogs, all fixed, except for the male beagle, who has papers, and was a gift. Only two of those pets were consciously chosen by our family. The rest were taken in because they were abandoned on our road.

  15. Lola is a cutie. It is amazing and distressing to hear of so many animals who are euthanized. I hope that readers will read and heed the advice to spay and neuter their pets.

  16. What a sweet and sad post. Lola is a beaut - cute little stinker. And so happy she has a good home. Now I need to urge my daughter to have her two new adopted dogs that she found to have them fixed. She plans to, but keeps procrastinating. I'll send her over to this post.

  17. Hooray to you for spreading the word. Lola is a beauty. Looking forward to those "after" pictures when she's filled out and her fur has grown in!

  18. Pat - I don't doubt it at all. Lola assimilated quickly and has already won everyone's heart. (McGee was a hard sell, but he was Steph's first pooch and considers himself king of the castle.)

    Val - Kudos to you for opening your heart to so many. The cost isn't bad, considering. I'm just learning of some places here in Atlanta that will spay/neuter for under $100.

    Joyful - Thanks for visiting. I hope so, too.

    Lynn - It's easy to put something like this off, especially if the expense is high in your area. I'm sure she'll follow through.

    Tammy - Yes, I'll definitely post some "after" shots. :)


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