Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Rabbit Hole. When Supply Outnumbers Demand, and Free Isn't Incentive Enough.

When it comes to pets there is an endless supply of "free" replacements available. Endless. There is NEVER a time where the shelves are clear at the shelter. There are multiple rescues within a 30 minute drive that have upwards of 500 cats available (begging for homes) under their roofs for adoption. The numbers are staggering, the supply unyielding and the consequences too often unimaginable.

At the present time cats are FREE and, with a FREE gift (for the holidays) at the local shelter. It is becoming a fairly common practice for high volume shelters to offer "free pets" in the busy and overcrowded periods. For example: The Spring kitten explosion. The housing of hoarder interventions. The days after the holidays when people deposit unwanted pets for vacation plans, new pets, and company visiting. Free is a wonderful marketing tool. BUT what happens if you can't even give them away? At the shelter they are advertising and including "a present as an extra bonus" incentive?!. (face palm). This is part of the problem. It is not an easy problem to solve, BUT, it has to be addressed. The best answers to overcrowding, over populated pets likely lie within all of society. But the brunt of it is shouldered by the shelters and rescues. They are after all the catch all for the castaways, forgottens, abandoned, and lost. They NEED to exist. You are not going to change these. People die, lose their homes, cannot afford to care anymore, etc, etc. Shelters and rescues NEED to exist for the pets no one wants, and those who are missing. Pets deserve a chance to find their own (old or new) family. BUT relegating them to "free" may not be our best way to preserve their safety and value?

Rescued from the  shelter,, loving life at JVC

If the replacement value is so low and the supply so great this only leaves an emotional tie to keep the system running. The debate over emotional bonds between pets and their people is undeniable. If you haven't had your heart stolen by a purr, a wag, a nuzzle, or the unyielding unconditional love of a pet you haven't let your heart open long enough to enjoy the most wonderful part of sharing a life with the love of a companion.

Pets own us. They do with each moment we get to spend with them. The emotional ties have evolved into bestowing of names, personalized beds, blankets, and bowls, monthly treat deliveries and a market that grows faster than (almost) any other. It is so lucrative and strong that venture capital is pouring into it every-single-day.

Mouse. Abandoned three times. Then he met us.
Turns out he is deaf and a dog.
Embrace who you are and there is someone for everyone.

For those of us in the shelters, who know these unwanted cast-aways it is a tough acceptance that giving them away to the wrong people is worth the chance of euthanasia to reduce in shelter numbers. If people can't, or won't, invest in their pets care are they good parents? Are we setting everyone up for disaster and disappointment. After all no pet is really "free". They will need basic care this will inevitably include veterinary care, and this might even be more expensive than "free". It is a real-life dilemma that I don't have any other answer to than "anything is better than dead. I think?"

The Roaring Pet Market, Forbes article. Here

The Littles.. Stuart and Falcon.
Rescued from the shelter where they couldn't shake their upper respiratory infection.
They needed love, time, antibiotics, and antivirals.
Some cases are easy and some remind you why it takes 4 years to get through vet school.

If you have any questions or comments please find me on Twitter at @FreePetAdvice, or ask me any pet question for free at I am also at the clinic Jarrettsville Veterinary Center in Jarrettsville Maryland. 

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