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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Jones

What's Behind The Pet Overpopulation EXPLOSION?

Note: The following are a combination of opinions and observations of the writer only.

As an anthropologist, I often look at things differently. As myself, and my unique world view circumstances can fit together forming a picture that emerges from world events, social issues, and individual patterns. And sometimes things just jump into place like puzzles of a jigsaw picture. What follows is a combination of all of these.

Why was last year’s rescue season so horrible? And why is this rescue season so overwhelming?

Many factors are currently converging to make rescue in the southern states of this country an overwhelming tsunami of need.

The southern states do not have a ‘cooling off period’ where dogs & cats stop procreating. In states with colder weather cats & dogs stop or at least, slow down, the number of litters they create. In the southern states this doesn’t happen so litters are born ALL year round. Our Texas rescue has had newborns kittens every month of every year since we came to Texas in 2018.

The Covid 19 pandemic shut down everything but essential services in 2020. This included veterinary clinics, low cost spay and neuter programs, vaccine clinics and other pet related services.

People who were out of work due to the pandemic adopted pets because they ‘needed company’. Many of those in adoptions relaxed their adoption screenings, and tens of thousands of people adopted cats & dogs, kittens and puppies without thinking about how they would function once life returned to normal after the pandemic.

Uncounted numbers abandoned their pets when they went back to work. Others began ‘accidental indoor colonies’ where two cats continued to reproduce inside homes, apartments, back yards, & city streets. The number of dogs roaming the streets increased. The numbers quickly became unmanageable.

Because many clinics were closed during the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of pets were NOT spayed or neutered even among responsible pet owners. Others never get their pets spayed or neutered. Finding clinics to provide affordable spay and neuter services is difficult and other low cost clinics had operating funds reduced. As best I’ve been able to find, we, in Texas, have only about 40% of the numbers of surgery slots that we had available prior to 2020.

Many veterinarians relocated to states where they can make more money than the south, leaving a dearth of trained veterinarians.

Just for scale let’s look at Numbers: Two cats, in five years, can produce a quarter of a million offspring with only 2.5 kittens surviving per litter. And most cats have many more than that each litter, all year round in Texas and other southern US states. In seven years, the numbers increase to an astonishing amount: 860,000 descendants. I don’t have numbers for dogs.

Since the pandemic pet food costs have skyrocketed. Pet food companies have stopped giving coupons to shelters and rescues. They also have limited donations to rescues and shelters across America. Some of this is blamed on supply chain disruptions but some is simply because big companies know pet owners have no other choice but to pay the increased costs. I’m not sure they consider that many have to abandon their pets or turn them in to animal services for euthanasia because they can’t feed them.

Animal control services have lost funding, and lack funds to provide adequate training for staff. Pay scales are so low, and the experiences so terrible that the quality of staff who will take this horribly stressful employment is affected. Staff turnover is very high. Due to the increased numbers of animals dying long-time staffers have found other, less emotionally draining employment.

In many cities, towns and countries animal shelters have limited or stopped intake completely and/or euthanize for space to continue to receive funds for taking animals in, which increasing the numbers of animals euthanized. Few accurate numbers exist on how much this has increased since the pandemic began.

Even once the “new norma”l arrived many shelters limit visitors and thus, limit adoptions.

Each year the costs of spay, neuter, vaccines, wet & dry food, essential medications, costs of veterinarian’s visits and services increase while donations towards care & costs stay the same, or in many cases, increase as the overpopulation of animals increases.

“Clear the shelters” events only add to the problems. Adoption donations are reduced or eliminated, pets are handed out with little to no screening of their adopters. Many are not spayed or neutered when ‘adopted’. Vouchers given to adopters to cover these services have a very low usage rate and those animals continue the ever increasing overpopulation problem. It is a ‘feel good’ exercise that only adds to the pet overpopulation problem.

Then there is burn out, emotional depletion and overwork, lack of donations and funds, and a dozen other factors that cause those in rescue to stop their efforts. It affects our emotional & mental wellness.

People willing to foster adults is at an all-time low in Texas. Adoption of adults is at an all-time low. Almost everyone wants little kittens to adopt.

Most rescues operate from volunteers with full time responsibilities besides their volunteering. Most Rescues DO NOT receive corporate donations, nor do they receive wet or dry food donations from the companies that produce the food.

Most rescues, like SOS Cat Rescue & Rehoming, operate from the pockets of the volunteers in them, the donations received towards care & costs when adopting, and donations, period.

So, now that all the factors are known, you may be thinking that there is little you, as an individual, can do. WRONG.

There is a lot you can do and here’s a list to start with. Then you find a friend and ask them to step up too. Then you encourage your friend to find a friend, and so on.

How can you help?

  • Sign up to donate a monthly amount to a local rescue. $5 goes a long way. If everyone reading this donated $5 a month to a small rescue an enormous difference would begin.

  • As a family? Do a fundraiser. Walk, run, skip or jump and get pledges for a local rescue or even for SOS Cat Rescue & Rehoming. Make a recurring donation to sponsor a kitty for $25 a month.

  • Sign up for “subscribe and save” options on Amazon or Chewy to donate wet and dry food (or other essentials) to small rescues. Just donate.

  • Volunteer! Volunteer to share posts to other groups, ask your friends and family members to do that same.

  • Volunteer with a Rescue to help with application screening! If you’d like to help SOS Cat Rescue & Rehoming, go to our website and complete our volunteer form.

  • FOSTER!!! Especially, volunteer, to foster adult kitties.

  • Ask friends and family to FOSTER!!! A bathroom, a closet, a laundry room, any small space will help save lives. Mentoring, training and support are available. Work from home? Foster a workplace cuddly kitty!

  • Donate! Give up an expensive coffee once a week and donate that cost to a rescue. Skip a fast food meal and donate that. Good for your soul and your body.

  • Host a Donations Drive amongst your friends and family for the kitties! Or a birthday fundraiser. Or ANY fundraiser.

  • Encourage your children to have a birthday ‘kitty shower’ for kittens in need. Toys, food, medicine, tents, and a host of items big or small will save more kitties. We will send pictures of the kitties saved and little bios to the children involved. We will even send them to big kids. And adults. Raise a new generation of animal advocates.

  • Sponsor a community spay or neuter surgery for a family who can’t afford it on their own. With SOS Cat Rescue & Rehoming $75 can help two families get their pets spay and neutered, vaccinated and microchipped. Call other small rescues and encourage them to do the same.

  • Make a recurring $10 donation to our Rescue and we will name a kitty after you, or after one of your kitties. (Names must be family friendly). Or after your children. Or your dog!

SOS Cat Rescue & Rehoming has a store to purchase merchandize that supports rescue: “Rescue Cats are Meowjical!” T shirts, sweatshirts for those of you not in the hot south, coffee mugs, reusable shopping bags and more.

And did I mention? FOSTER!!

114 views1 comment



Oh my…well said from an old vet tech and now a rescuer, TNR worker, and manager of a colony. So many challenges right now. Discouraging

in many ways, but that passion that

so many of us share keeps us trudging forward with outstretched arms even when we are growing tired of these added challenges🐾

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