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Animal Welfare

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  1. Animal Welfare Dr. Joanne M. Roesner, DVM DAVBP

  2. Animal Welfare • Homelessness • Feral Cates: an example of homelessness • Shelters • Responsible Pet ownership training • Spay/Neuter • Animal Cruelty

  3. I. Homelessness • Stray animals are a direct result of human lack of responsibility in pet ownership. • Most stray animals are never recovered from shelters and are euthanized. • Euthanasia is the leading cause of death for healthy homeless pets. • Only 15% of dogs and <5% of cats are reclaimed by owners from shelters.

  4. Homelessness • Sterilization of pets, permanent identification of pets (microchips) and appropriate confinement will ultimately be the solution for homelessness.

  5. Homelessness • Homeless pets exhibit behaviors which impact society negatively(e.g. fighting, urine spraying, roaming). • Homeless pets are a potential reservoir of disease for man (especially rabies) and for owned pets (e.g. FIV, Ehrlichea).

  6. II. Feral Cats: an example of homelessness • Are domesticated species returned to the wild • Are not fully equipt to live in the wild and succumb to disease and injury • Very short life span: 2-3 years compared to ~12 years for owned, cared for cats • They survive but do not thrive

  7. Feral Cats • Feral cats are a huge part of the feline overpopulation problem! • An estimated 30-60 million cats are feral in the USA.

  8. Feral Cats Feral cats are a direct result of irresponsible pet ownership!

  9. Feral Cats • If feral cats are trapped and removed (I.e. euthanized), often the colony reforms from more ferals moving into the area. • Spay/Neuter and release may result in a stable, non-reproductive colony. (

  10. Feral Cats • Feral cats, due to their fear, can be dangerous to handle. They should be humanely trapped without efforts to handle and taken to a facility with experienced personnel.

  11. Feral Cats • Attempting to re-domesticate a feral is a long and painstaking process. Often these cats remain fearful and insecure around people even though they may eventually tolerate human touch.

  12. III. Shelters Three Types: • Rabies Control – Government run, Euthanasia if not reclaimed, fewer adoptions. • Traditional – open admission, private funding often related to Humane Society or other organization. Adoptions are encouraged, Euthanasia is utilized. • No-Kill – Limited admission, adoption is utilized for any suitable pets, Euthanasia is minimal or not practiced. There are 4000-6000 shelters in the US.

  13. Shelters • 8-12 million animals per year are turned into shelters. • More than 4-6 million of these are euthanized. • Unwanted litters are the main reason for animal relinquishment to shelter.

  14. Shelters • Main source of pet “turn in” are behavioral problems. 9avoid via training, appropriate expectations and pre-adoption counseling!) • 15% of shelter population is from owner turn in.

  15. Shelters Relinquished pets • 25-30% of dogs are purebred, 6% of cats are purebred. • 3-5 years old. • Most are unspayed or unneutered. • 27% of dogs and 36.5% of cats are primarily outdoor pets.

  16. Shelters • Owner turn in was less likely if owner had read a book or other educational material, had a DVM or went to obedience training.

  17. Dog Moving Landlord Cost No time for pet Inadequate facilities Too many pets Pet illness Biting No home for littermates Cat Too many cats Allergy Moving Cost Landlord No home for litter Personal Problem Pet ill Inadequate facilities Shelters 10 top Reasons for Owner Turn In

  18. Shelters Only 15-20% of pets in the USA come from shelters.

  19. Shelters Success of efforts to control animal overpopulation hinge on increasing public awareness of shelters as a source of pets and sterilizing pets to avoid unintentional litters.

  20. Shelters Pet Population Control • Increase sterilization • Increase pet retention in homes • Increase adoption from shelters • Increase laws to promote responsible pet ownership

  21. Shelters • Germany, Norway and Sweden, in spite of not routinely spaying and neutering, have NO problem with pet retention. • Responsible pet ownership is the norm and the law in these countries.

  22. Shelters Shelter Success depends on: • Volunteers • Foster Homes • Off-Site adoptions • Public access to shelters • Pre-release sterilization • Work with local veterinary community • Marketing • Fund Raising

  23. Shelters As pet overpopulation is addressed successfully, shelters can move more into a role of championing animal well being.

  24. IV. Responsible Pet Ownership Pets are a lifetime commitment.

  25. Responsible Pet Ownership • Educate yourself on the best pet for your situation prior to obtaining a pet. • Establish a relationship with a DVM who is willing to educate you about your specific pets behavioral and life needs. • All dogs should undergo obedience training.

  26. Responsible Pet Ownership • Do not exceed the number of pets you can financially and emotionally care for.

  27. Responsible Pet Ownership • Consider environmental and lifestage (e.g. will you move away to go to college) constraints when choosing a suitable pet.

  28. Responsible Pet Ownership Pet needs are more than food, water and shelter. • Can you give adequate medical care? • Do you have sufficient emotional and time resources?

  29. Responsible Pet Ownership • AAHA estimates large to medium dogs require 20 minutes of aerobic exercise plus 3-4 walks daily. • HSUS most of behaviors resulting in pets being turned into shelters are due to lack of exercise and training.

  30. Responsible Pet Ownership SPAY AND NEUTER YOUR PETS!!!

  31. V. Spay and Neuter • Cats: If • 2 litters per year • 2.8 out of 4 live • 10 years breeding life Then 1 cat could result in 80,399,730 cats. (e.g. 1 year -> 12 2nd year -> 68 3rd year -> 382 And on and on.)

  32. Spay and Neuter • Dogs: If • 1.5 – 2 litters per year • 6-10 pups Then 1 dog in 6 years could result in 67,000 dogs

  33. Spay and Neuter • Puppies and kittens born in owned home settings take homes away from shelter pets. • Think carefully if you make a choice to breed a pet!

  34. Spay and Neuter Spay/Neuter benefits: • Behavioral - decrease roaming, fighting, urine marking. • Decreased disease female - pyometra, mammary cancer, vaginal hyperplasia • Decreased disease male – testicular cancer, prostatic disease, perineal hernia.

  35. Spay and Neuter • Remember: Unwanted litters are a major source of turn ins to shelters.

  36. Spay and Neuter • 71 million owned cats estimated in USA • Varies by location but between 30-90% of these are spayed.

  37. Spay and Neuter • Remember: 30-60 million homeless cats in USA. Most of these are not sterilized.

  38. VI. Animal Cruelty Defined: mistreatment that is malicious, deliberate and repeated. Abuse – satisfaction from dominance Neglect – passive maltreatment Cruelty – satisfaction from suffering

  39. Animal Cruelty • Animal abuse and neglect may result from inadequate resources or training and therefore may be preventable.

  40. Animal Cruelty • Animal cruelty may be a precursor of human cruelty. (Serial murderers often begin with animal torture before moving on to human victims)

  41. Animal Cruelty • Animal cruelty may be a marker of family violence. Children who are abused may abuse family pets in a similar fashion.

  42. Animal Cruelty It is our responsibility to report animal cruelty and neglect!

  43. Animal Cruelty • Laws vary from state to state on how and where to report – Start with local law enforcement officials. • Only 15 states have felony animal cruelty statutes.

  44. Animal Cruelty Dog Fighting: • Legal to be a spectator is most states • Maximum penalty in GA for staging a dog fight is $5000 fine, 5 years incarceration. 3 states only misdemeanor. • Promotes illegal drugs and gambling. • Huge profit to organizers.

  45. Animal Cruelty Dog Fighting: • Dogs are trained using “bait” animals (small dogs, cats, rabbits) which they kill. • Bait animals are often stolen pets!

  46. Animal Cruelty Cock Fights: • Legal in 3 states (NM, OK, LA) • Laws in GA similar to those for dog fighting.

  47. Animal Cruelty Spectators at staged animal fights should be prosecuted!