Pet Overpopulation: The New American Tragedy


The consequences of pet overpopulation are much too tragic to be simplified. The number of victims – unwanted homeless dogs and cats – is of such magnitude that it is time that society be made aware of the reality of this tragedy. The statistics tell the story.

Three to four million dogs and cats are killed in shelters across the United States every year. These staggering numbers don’t include the animals that die on our roads or from unreported animal abuse. Also not included are the animals that die after being sold to research laboratories from our shelters. During 1999, animal shelters in Ohio killed 196,831 dogs and cats. Only a small fraction of these animals are vicious because of owner mistreatment or illegal intentions.

Only a small fraction are terminally ill or too sick to be treated. The majority of these dogs and cats are healthy. Many can be treated and behavior problems eliminated. We are killing adoptable dogs and cats capable of giving and receiving love for many more years.


1. People acquire cats and dogs from sources that perpetuate overpopulation. They buy from breeders and pet stores. 5,000 puppy mills breed more than 1/2 million dogs in deplorable conditions, most of which are shipped to pet stores. By buying from these sources we perpetuate the market. 25% of the animals in shelters are purebred. When a pet is purchased, a shelter animal dies.

2. Many pet owners who fail to spay and neuter their animals. Whether by intent or neglect, these dogs and cats reproduce. For every litter born, that many will die in a shelter. Many of these people are hobby and professional breeders, others are backyard breeders wanting their children to see the miracle of birth. Perhaps these people need to visit the killing room of a shelter to watch the tragedy of death.

3. People treat pets as disposable commodities. People simply surrender or abandon their animals instead of taking responsibility for them for their lifetime. Every day people walk into shelters and surrender animals for reasons as frivolous as the animal not matching their furniture anymore or we’re going on vacation and can’t afford to board – we’ll just get another dog when we come home. The number one excuse is moving – the owner doesn’t consider the animal important enough to find animal friendly housing. More excuses include – behavior problems, not enough time, can’t afford, and allergies.

A Dog in OSPCA's Current Care

In summary, failure to spay and neuter is the major cause, but how we acquire our dogs and cats and how long we keep them is also a contributing cause. For every animal killed – be it a dog, cat, pig, rabbit, or bird – there is a human outside the walls of the shelter responsible.

Ohio SPCA’s Position

  • Don’t Breed or Buy – Adopt

  • Keep Your Pets Safe at Home

  • Spay and Neuter

And remember – pets are living creatures, capable of fear, love, pain, loneliness, and joy. They should never be considered disposable property, for they should be considered members of the family. Every companion animal must be loved and protected.

Ohio SPCA believes that no person should be breeding while dogs and cats are dying every single day. To find out more about puppy mills, pet stores, and how you can stop pet overpopulation, visit the web sites below.

This OSPCA Dog Has Hope!

In Defense of Animals
What is a Puppy Mill?
Prisoners for Profit

Pet Overpopulation Statistics

An unspayed female cat, her mate and all of their offspring, producing 2 litters per year, with 2.8 surviving kittens per litter can total: An unspayed female dog, her mate and all of their puppies, if none are ever neutered or spayed, add up to:
1 year: 12
2 years: 67
3 years: 376
4 years: 2,107
5 years: 11,801
6 years: 66,088
7 years: 370,092
8 years: 2,072,514
9 years: 11,606,077
1 year: 16
2 years: 128
3 years: 512
4 years: 2,048
5 years: 12,288
6 years: 67,000
Don’t contribute to the tragedy of homeless cats and dogs. Spay and neuter your pets.

Benefits of Spaying and Neutering

  • Over 12 million dogs and cats are killed in shelters across the United States every year. When you have your pet spayed or neutered you will be helping to reduce the number of unwanted animals.
  • Dogs and cats live longer because a number of health problems are reduced or eliminated. The possibility of testicular and ovarian or uterine cancers is eliminated. If your female pet is spayed before her first estrous cycle, the possibility of mammary cancer is greatly reduced.
  • Pets behave better and are more affectionate with people and other animals.
  • Spaying and neutering helps to eliminate unwanted behaviors such as the urge to roam, fight, bark, and howl.
  • Neutered cats are less likely to spray or mark their territory.
  • Licensing fees in some areas are cut by half or more.

Spaying and Neutering won’t:

  • Endanger the well-being of your companion animal.
  • Change your pet’s personality.
    Mr. Kitty was rescued with many other cats from a puppy mill in S. Ohio. He loves having real cat food since he no longer has to dig through burnt trash to eat. Mr. Kitty is a handsome senior guy and likes to guard the kitchen counter.
  • Make your pet overweight or lazy.

Everyday thousands of adoptable dogs and cats are killed because forever homes cannot be found for them. Don’t contribute to this tragic loss of life.

Be Responsible, Spay and Neuter.

It stops the Killing.

About OhioSPCA

“Teaching Awareness, Respect, and Kindness”

Every humane organization dreams of the day when cruelty to animals can be reduced to the point of elimination. The Ohio SPCA (formerly known as the Ohio Humane Education Association) was formed in 1983 to help bring this dream to reality through humane education.

The Ohio SPCA and the ASPCA

The Ohio SPCA is located and operates strictly in Ohio.  We are not affiliated with the ASPCA which is based in New York.  While we appreciate the publicity brought to helping abused animals by the ASPCA media campaign and television show on Animal Planet,many  people mistakenly believe we are one and the same and the donation will be passed on to us.  This is not the case.  We are the ones in the trenches in Ohio, fighting for the animals.

Ohio SPCA Goals

  • To extend to present and future generations humane education, which will lead to an awareness of the need for people to be responsible and kind stewards over animals.
  • To intercede on behalf of animals and bring about change to situations and practices in which cruelty, neglect, or unnecessary suffering exists.

Those of us involved in Ohio SPCA believe that many people are unaware of inhumane practices and the suffering that many animals are forced to endure. No one likes to talk about pain, suffering, and death, but change can’t take place unless the facts are presented to the public. Adults and children must be educated about problems such as pet overpopulation, factory farming, and animal experimentation. Once they know and understand what has been hidden from them, a percentage of these people will at least speak out against the inhumanity or actively decide to help.

Simple Ways to Help

  • Spay or neuter your dog or cat
  • Report cases of cruelty you see to your local Department of Animal Control
  • Volunteer to help with a local animal rescue
  • Donate animal care supplies (such as dog/cat food, litter, toys and treats, flea medication)
  • Become a vegetarian
  • Look for cruelty-free products when shopping (such as household cleaners and cosmetics)
  • Teachers may tell students in their classrooms in the hope that one child will remember the message and not only carry it home, but throughout life with them.

Please pass on what you learn from their website to others. Together we can make a difference! PLEASE TWEET AND RE-POST THIS POST EVERYWHERE!

4 Responses to “Pet Overpopulation: The New American Tragedy”

  1. I don’t remember this subject ever addressed when I was in school, or to my kids in school. What a great topic for them.

  2. GW says:

    An absolute true story and a great article. I do not understand why people consistently get puppies or dogs and then don’t take care of them. You made a decision, just as you would deciding to have a child. Now, take care of them!!! These dogs are a member of your family. Remember too, if you keep your dog outside, please protect them. Buy some type of dog clothing or dog apparel to keep them warm or even cool…

  3. great topic to read and even discuss…fantastic article the facts are fascinating

  4. The Ohio SPCA is all-volunteer and is NOT connected to the giant ASPCA in NYC. Thank you for the article!

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