Look who showed up on Mobile Veterinary Clinic’s doorstep! We found this very scared, wet and cold cat in a carrier on our front lawn. The kitty was noticed by one of our clients as the carrier was partly hidden from view. It appeared as though the poor girl had been left outside all night through the thunder, lighting, wind and torrential downpours. Because of this, we named her Puddles. Drs. Michael Reid and Brianna Reid Favret examined and tested her for FIV (Feline AIDS), FeLV (Feline Leukemia), and internal parasites, and vaccinated Puddles for Rabies, and feline distemper (panleukopenia, calicivirus, and feline rhinotracheitis). Upon exam, the doctors noted that Puddles was spayed and had a microchip number. The doctors are estimating Puddles age to be between 1-2 years. Puddles is a very lovable and healthy little girl and once she receives her final distemper vaccine she will be up for adoption.
Because of these events at the clinic, I wanted to take the time to discuss a problem plaguing the United States: animal homelessness and shelter overpopulation.
Below are some startling statistics that illustrate this growing problem (Source: ASPCA).
“Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats.”
“Of the dogs entering shelters, approximately 35% are adopted, 31% are euthanized and 26% of dogs who came in as strays are returned to their owner.”
“Of the cats entering shelters, approximately 37% are adopted, 41% are euthanized, and less than 5% of cats who came in as strays are returned to their owners.”
“According to the American Humane Association, the most common reasons why people relinquish or give away their dogs is because their place of residence does not allow pets (29%), not enough time, divorce/death and behavior issues (10% each). The most common reasons for cats are that they were not allowed in the residence (21%) and allergies (11%).”
So how do we prevent pets from ending up like Puddles?
First, spaying and neutering all pets not to be bred is very important. This reduces the number of unwanted pets greatly.
Second, it is important to know if a pet (and which pet) is right for you!
Ask for information concerning the pet you are interested in- How active is he? Does she have any medical issue? Does he shed a lot?
Also, ask yourself some questions: How much time do I have to care for a new pet? How will I afford this animal? What happens if my pet gets sick? What will I do when I go on vacation? What will I do with my pet if I have to move?
Having a plan in place to address any problems that may come up will eliminate future issues from occurring at all. Having a plan requires some information though. The link below will take you to a chart that gives the average cost of owning a specific type of pet per year and is helpful when trying to budget appropriately when bringing a newcomer into the household.
In addition, some of the best resources are right around the corner from you at Mobile Veterinary Clinic. We can help guide you to what pet or breed is right for your lifestyle.
Third, if you decide that a new pet is right for you, consider adopting. There are many loveable animals available for adoption from shelters and from rescue groups. The shelters are overflowing with puppies, kittens, and adult pets. They even have rescue groups for specific breeds of dogs. Shelter animals are no different than any other pets and desperately in need of devoted homes.
Ultimately, if you feel that you must give up your furry family member, consider these things from the Connecticut HSUS first:
“Has your schedule changed? Maybe your family, friends or neighbors can help.
Do you think your pet is sick? Consult your veterinarian about how to manage medical issues.
Do you have to move? Look into pet friendly housing options.
Is the landlord asking you to remove your pet? Make a pet resume that shows you are a responsible pet owner.
Having trouble managing your pet’s behavior? Research training options to help your pet succeed.
Are finances an issue? Consider these options that may help you keep your pet at home:
1. Fox Memorial Clinic for affordable veterinary care.
2. CHS Pet Food Pantry for assistance with pet food.
3. Fox Memorial Clinic, Hope Spay/Neuter Clinic, TEAM Mobile Unit Nutmeg for low cost spay/neuter and vaccinations.
4. PetCo and PetSmart for affordable vaccinations.
Is your pet elderly or suffering from medical or behavior problems? If none of the options above are a possibility and you must rehome your pet, consider a foster based rescue. They are a better fit than a traditional shelter environment for special needs pets. You can find a comprehensive listing of rescues at Petfinder.com”
The staff and doctors at Mobile Veterinary Clinic are happy to help you and direct you to appropriate resources if you are having medical or behavioral troubles at home with your pet. Drs. Michael Reid and Brianna Reid Favret can sign paperwork if needed for your insurance company or landlord certifying that your pet is free from disease and parasites. The doctors at Mobile Veterinary Clinic can also serve as a reference on your pet’s resume. Please let us know if there is anything at all we can do to keep your furry friend in a warm and caring home.
If after considering all of the above, you still cannot maintain ownership of your pet; this is how to appropriately and responsibly surrender your pet.
1. “Contact the Connecticut Humane Society location closest to your home for assistance and to make an appointment for surrender. The staff will listen and provide you with options that you may not have considered. If surrender seems the best option, an admission appointment will be scheduled.
2. You must accompany your pet. If you are not the legal owner, than you must provide written documentation to the person who is assisting you giving permission for the pet to be surrendered for adoption.
3. Complete a written Pet Personality Profile and allow the behavioral staff to conduct a temperament assessment. This information will help us determine our ability to accept your pet for adoption. For your convenience, download the Dog, Cat or Bird Profile in advance, fill it out and bring the completed form to your appointment.
4. Provide an intake fee to help defray the costs of caring for your pet while he or she awaits a new home. Fees are as follows: Standard Fee – $80 per pet, Litters – $80 per litter, Rabbits & Guinea Pigs – $40 per pet, Other Small Animals – $25 per pet.
5. Legally sign your pet over to CHS.
6. CHS is a managed admission organization and we reserve the right to accept or refuse any pet presented for surrender. CHS does not place any time limits on a pet’s stay. The number of pets accepted is determined by those adopted, freeing up space for new arrivals.”
If you find a stray animal, you must contact the animal control officer in your area and bring the animal to the animal control officer. Below is the information for the Trumbull Animal Control Department:
Please be advised, there are laws in CT against abandoning your pet. CT Animal Cruelty Statute: CGS 53-247 states “Individuals in custody of an animal may not act cruelly to it; fail to provide it with proper food, drink or shelter, abandon it; or carry or cause it to be carried in a cruel manner… A first offense is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment for up to one year, or both. Each subsequent offence is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, imprisonment for up to five years, or both.”
When we take a pet into our lives, it is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Pets provide us with unconditional love and support, but are also a time and financial obligation. It is important to understand this before bringing a pet into your life. As guardians for those without voices, we must always advocate for our pets’ best interests. Owning a pet is not a right, it is a great privilege. It is vital to realize, pets are living, breathing beings and are therefore not disposable. We must treat them with the love and respect they deserve.