Pets column: Kittens are cute, but neutered is cuterWhen you work or volunteer at an animal shelter, early summer can be a fun time of the year. Walking down the shelter hallways, I often pause to watch the many adorable litters of kittens sleeping in a pile or frantically chasing and pouncing on toy mice, strings, and each other.
By: Amy Miller, For the Budgeteer News
When you work or volunteer at an animal shelter, early summer can be a fun time of the year. Walking down the shelter hallways, I often pause to watch the many adorable litters of kittens sleeping in a pile or frantically chasing and pouncing on toy mice, strings, and each other.
Staff, volunteers, and visitors will often whip out their cameras to snap a picture of a cute moment and it is wonderful to see how much attention the babies get every day as they await adoption.
Their antics put a bounce in my step and make me proud to be a part of this organization that provides a comfortable, safe, and happy temporary home for the multitudes of unwanted litters born in summer months.
Although these little ones bring a smile to my face, the joy is occasionally accompanied by an undertone of sadness. When speaking recently with a community member who called the shelter desperately needing to find homes for a litter of kittens, I came to the realization that almost every kitten or cat I have met was the result of an unplanned pregnancy.
Think about it: How many people do you know who have gotten their cat or kitten from a professional breeder? Now, compare that to the number of people you know who have gotten their cat or kitten from a shelter, family member, or classified ad because the animal was no longer wanted.
As spring turns to summer and the shelter continues to take in new litters, managing the population of homeless animals becomes a challenge. In 2013, Animal Allies has already received more than 625 unwanted cats and kittens from our community. While it is typically easy to find homes for kittens, it becomes more difficult to find adopters for adult cats when kittens are available and increased numbers of both cats and kittens during summer months put great stress on shelters and their resources.
In order to prevent euthanasia and keep up with the influx of homeless animals, some shelters are beginning to instate promotions that offer cats and kittens for low adoption fees or no fee at all.
But, unwanted litters — and the extra strain on our animal shelters — can be prevented.
There are programs, such as Northland Spay/Neuter, put in place to help reduce pet overpopulation.
Northland Spay/Neuter, which is a partnership between Animal Allies Humane Society and an independent, veterinarian-owned medical practice, has been a powerful success. In the three years since the program was established in October 2009, the City of Duluth Animal Control witnessed a 23 percent decrease in the intake of unwanted cats and kittens. This decrease has been crucial in establishing and maintaining zero-euthanasia of all healthy homeless animals entering shelters in Duluth since 2010.
But there is so much more to be done.
If our community remains passionate about spay/neuter, it will mean fewer stray cats on the streets, fewer litters of kittens consuming resources in the shelter, and more lives saved every day. If we can control the population within the city, we may even be able to help surrounding communities achieve the same amazing results.
Animal Allies Humane Society is extremely fortunate to belong to a community that values and cares for its homeless animals. Because of its past successes, the Northland Spay/Neuter program was recently awarded an expansion of a grant from PetSmart Charities to offer free feline spays and neuters. Now, cat owners living in zip codes 55802, 55805, 55806, 55807, 55812 and 54880 (Superior) can have their animals altered at no charge.
Amy Miller is the marketing and communications coordinator for Animal Allies. She lives in Duluth with her husband and three adopted pets: dogs Maverick and Goose, and a cat named Buddy Love.