Monday, April 09, 2007

Hope For the Future

Hooray for the New York Times! There was a really great article in yesterday's Sunday magazine about a place called Town Lake Animal Center in Austin, Texas that is embracing a new trend among animal shelters to try to unravel the psychology of dog abandonment: Why do pet owners give up their dogs? What are the expectations of potential adopters? How can shelters reduce the stress and depression of dogs that are surrendered, and how can they be assessed and suitably matched to new owners? The study is a joint project between Town Lake Animal Center and the University of Texas's Animal Personality Institute, and it sounds very promising.

If you're saying to yourself, Why should I care about what's going on in the shelters?, try ingesting this excerpt:
According to Stephen Zawistowski, executive vice president for national programs for the ASPCA, about four million dogs enter shelters nationwide each year. Some two million of them end up being euthanized, about 5,000 dogs each day, one every 16 seconds. They are not, as is often assumed, merely the misbegotten mutts, castoffs of some imaginary canine lower caste. They hail from every stratum of the human society that shaped them, from all the varied quadrants of our keeping. According to nationwide surveys, as many as 25 percent of the dogs who end up in shelters are purebreds: Boston terriers, border collies, Pomeranians, standard poodles and so on, the sorts of dogs that people pay thousands of dollars to obtain. And yet they are discarded for the same dizzying array of reasons the mongrels are, ranging from the truly fraught to the downright frivolous.
In case you missed this bit, let me repeat it: TWO MILLION DOGS EUTHANIZED EVERY YEAR.

Isn't that worth caring about?

"New Tricks" by Charles Siebert

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