Cats sit in a cage at Peoples Animal Welfare Society Animal Shelter in Tinley Park in September 2007. Student Jena Rogers wants Southland residents to adopt pets instead of buying them. | File photo
Updated: December 19, 2011 8:22AM
Having a pet is highly beneficial. They bring something special because animals have a certain way of warming the heart. They take away stress, cause a smile after a long day and are always a free source of love.
Cats amuse us by their intrigue with catching strings and chasing laser lights. Dogs create laughter and always have time for fun or a scratch behind the ears.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is one of the proud voices speaking on behalf of animal shelters. Approximately 6 million companion animals enter shelters nationwide every year, and nearly 4 million are euthanized (60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats.) Shelter intakes are somewhat evenly divided between animals relinquished by owners and those picked up by animal control. These are national estimates; the percentage of euthanasia may vary from state to state.
Overpopulation is an issue because of the lack of spaying and neutering. An estimate of stray dogs and cats in the United States ranges up to 70 million, an alarming number.
While 63 percent of U.S. households own an animal, lots of strays had a home and either weren’t kept securely or didn’t have proper identification to find their owner. With both cats and dogs capable of producing a litter twice a year, the overpopulation will continue and shelters will stay crowded.
The cost of spaying or neutering a pet is less than the cost of raising puppies or kittens for a year. Places such as PAWS Animal Shelter in Tinley Park and The Animal Welfare League, with shelters in Chicago Ridge and Chicago, are more than doing their part to help our companions.
Why adopt a pet instead of buy? Adopting means saving a life, and giving that animal a home means an open spot for the millions of homeless out there. Adopting also helps deter puppy mills — places with no restrictions or regulations that use and abuse dogs for more litters and sell them to pet shops.
Many of these dogs have health problems because of the neglect they go through before an outrageous price tag is placed on them. Many end up in shelters, where they get the proper care they have been denied.
A major plus with PAWS is that animals are pre-vaccinated, microchipped and either spayed or neutered. PAWS’ mission is to educate on animal welfare issues and to nurture compassion toward all living things. Volunteers keep this non-profit shelter running, and it’s a great organization to donate time to.
The Animal Welfare League has been caring for animals for more than 75 years, housing the largest number of adoptable animals from a non-profit organization in the entire Midwest. The shelter not only has a variety of dogs and cats to choose from, it offers everything from iguanas to mice that need a home.
Its veterinary clinic is open to the public with more than three on-staff surgeons. As with PAWS, the Animal Welfare League spays/neuters, microchips and tags every adopted animal.
Choosing a pet from these two organizations means making a difference. Most of the animals have been in homes so they’re housebroken. Both shelters do behavioral testing for adoptability and also offer pet training.
Consider supporting a shelter such as PAWS, the Animal Welfare League or any other area shelter, either through adoption or a donation of time or money. Come to the rescue and save a four-legged companion. Be a hero.
Jena Rogers is an Orland Park resident and attends Moraine Valley Community College. She previously was a volunteer at the PAWS shelter in Tinley Park.