Help stop pet overpopulation

litter of kittens

Every day in the United States, thousands of puppies and kittens are born because of the uncontrolled breeding of pets.


Add to that number the offspring of stray and abandoned companion animals, and the total becomes even larger. Every year, between six and eight million dogs and cats enter U.S. shelters and pounds; approximately half of these animals are euthanized because there are not enough homes for them.

Too many companion animals competing for too few good homes is the most obvious consequence of uncontrolled breeding. However, there are other equally tragic problems that result from pet overpopulation: the transformation of some animal shelters into "warehouses," the acceptance of cruelty to animals as a way of life in our society, and the stress that caring shelter workers suffer when they are forced to euthanize one animal after another. Living creatures have become throwaway items to be cuddled when cute and abandoned when inconvenient. Such disregard for animal life pervades and erodes our culture.

Abandoned and stray companion animals who survive in the streets and alleys of cities and suburbs pose a health threat to humans and other animals. Homeless companion animals get into trash containers, defecate in public areas or on private lawns, and anger citizens who have no understanding of their misery or their needs. Some of these animals scare away or prey upon wildlife—such as birds—or frighten small children.

The public health epidemic of dog bites—which number more than 4.5 million each year—is due in part to uncontrolled breeding of pets. Bites by so-called dangerous dogs have drawn an enormous amount of media attention, and fatalities caused by dangerous dogs are a serious concern. Often, the vicious tendencies found in some dog breeds can be attributed to irresponsible breeding without regard for temperament. Spaying and neutering can help reduce this aggressive behavior.

Clearly, pet overpopulation is not just a problem for the animals or for the shelters involved. Each year communities are forced to spend millions of taxpayer dollars trying to cope with the consequences of this surplus of pets. These public costs include services such as investigating animal cruelty, humanely capturing stray animals, and sheltering lost and homeless animals.

The answer to the pet overpopulation problem is to have your pet spayed or neutered because the euthanasia rate at shelters and pounds in the United States will never be meaningfully reduced solely through the adoption of animals to new homes.  By making certain that your pet cannot have puppies or kittens, you will help reduce the number of stray and unwanted animals that come into an animal shelter and this, in turn, will help reduce the euthanasia rate. The Humane Society of the United States has compiled alarming statistics on the number of companion animals that are euthanized each year in this country.

Spaying and neutering of pets also reduces the risk of certain health and behavioral problems.  Many of the common perceptions about the spaying and neutering of animals are just myths; please get the facts

The procedure of spaying or neutering a pet is safe and effective.  Licensed veterinarians perform the procedure while the pet is under anesthesia.  Depending on the pet’s age, size and health, the pet will stay at the veterinarian’s office for only a few hours or overnight.  Your veterinarian can explain the procedure to you in detail.  If you have a new puppy or kitten, do not wait.  Pets can become parents sooner than you think.  Early spay/neuter is safe, so talk with your veterinarian at your pet’s first visit.

Content on this page was developed from materials provided by The Humane Society of the United States.