A study finds tens of thousands of dogs and cats are being euthanized in Iowa every year because of too few adoptions. Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, says more than three-million potential pets are being put to death nationally, including 50,000 a year in Iowa.
“Both numbers are just absolutely unacceptable,” Pacelle says. “We can do better as a society than to kill so many animals that just want a chance at life. There are 2,800 animals available for adoption right now in Iowa.” Due to misperceptions, Pacelle says many Iowans avoid getting their pets from shelters.
Pacelle says, “The animals in shelters end up there not through any fault of their own but typically because of a human problem, a foreclosure crisis, some other economic crisis in their lives, they’re moving to a place, they may have an allergy.” He says only about 20% of people adopt animals from shelters or rescue groups. The rest go through friends, neighbors, pet stores, the Internet, breeders and other sources. Pacelle says people think shelter animals are somehow damaged or they’ve been bad.
“That’s very, very far from the truth and 80% of animals are now acquired through other sources, not shelters or rescue groups,” Pacelle says. “If we could just get that number up to 35% or even 40%, we could eliminate the euthanasia of healthy and treatable animals, not just in Iowa and Nebraska, but in every state in the country.”
The Humane Society is launching a campaign, called The Shelter Pet Project, to encourage people to make shelters and rescue groups their first choice for acquiring companion animals. The website “www.theshelterpetproject.org” includes a tool to help match owners with suitable pets in local shelters.