Note: Technical limitations are preventing this week’s program from being available directly on the website. If you want to watch or download the program, click here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/4t4jvswb3oib63p/MOViewsPets.mp4?dl=0
by Mike Ferguson
(Jefferson City, MO) – They are our companions, our protectors and our friends so it’s hard to understand why some people abandon – or abuse – pets.
You may be surprised to learn that most local governments spend a significant amount of money dealing with animals. There are health reasons and safety reasons for that but Brent Toellner thinks animal issues are also personal.
“About 65% of people in this country own a pet of some type so pets are something that definitely appeals to the majority of us and, whether you’re a pet owner or not, the pets in your community have an impact on you and where your tax dollars are spent.”
Toellner is the Board President of the Kansas City Pet Project, one of the largest no-kill animal shelters in the state.
Tens of thousands of dogs and cats end up in shelters in Missouri every year. Toeller explains the most common causes.
“Number one, they get lost and someone else finds them and brings them back and we’re unable to reunite them with the home…another reason is that many people have to surrender pets because they end up moving into an apartment complex that doesn’t allow pets.”
Not all animals make it out of shelters, even if there’s nothing wrong with their health or behavior.
“Primarily, the reason a lot of them are put down when they should be found homes is because shelters feel overwhelmed because of the number of animals they get and they aren’t able to find homes for them at the same rate as they come in.”
Toellner says, nationwide, about eight million animals go to a shelter each year. About three and a half million are euthanized each year, often because they stayed too long in the shelter and there’s simply no more room for them.
That happens after money is spent on the animal’s care.
Toellner says animal shelters have an important role in keeping us safe from strays. At the same time, they are also good resources for families who want to add a pet to the home.
To him, it’s important that shelters are available and funded, even when that can get expensive.
“We should be a caring and compassionate society. That’s not only for people who have issues and need our help but also for animals that have issues and need our help. I think as a society, we don’t want to be the type of people who think of animals and pets as disposable.”
Whether it’s part of the city budget or a donation to a locally run non-profit organization, money spent on animal shelters often ends up impacting human lives.
“It starts form the second they come in the door. They all get a round of vaccinations so they don’t catch diseases from other dogs that might be in the shelter, because they all come in from different backgrounds and we don’t know what they’ve been treated for
“Then they’ll have to go into a kennel where they’ll have to be walked and cared for and fed every day, multiple times a day. Then they’ll get a rabies shot before it ends up leaving. They’ll get a behavior evaluation at a shelter so that we know the animal that is going out is a safe one to go into a home.”
Ideally, no one would abandon an animal but the reality is that domesticated dogs and cats will continue to become homeless. You can become part of the solution by adopting a shelter pet. Toellner suggests some discussion and planning before you head to the shelter, though.
“The most important thing they can do is be honest with themselves about what they want in a pet. Are they really active and want an active dog to go running with? Then, if you’re a couch potato and just want a do that will curl up on your lap with you. So, starting with being honest about your lifestyle and how that pet is going to fit in to your lifestyle is the most important thing you can do because then hopefully you’re going to get a pet that matches your lifestyle.”
On the web: Kansas City Pet Project: www.KCPetProject.org