Every year approximately 5 to 7 million animals enter our shelters, and 3 to 5 million are euthanized. This means about 60 percent of the dogs in our shelters will be killed. While those numbers vary from state to state, this is the broad scope of what is happening today in our shelters.
We have an overpopulation crisis. And no matter how well-intentioned or funded our shelters in certain communities may be, the bottom line when it comes to pet overpopulation is this: our shelters are overburdened, they don’t have enough room or resources, and dogs are being euthanized in devastating numbers. More are entering the shelters and never leaving than are going out to live happy, fulfilling lives as beloved canine companions.
This leaves us with a responsibility. As a whole, we are a humane country and we love our pets. But we need to look outside our homes and to our communities to help educate and raise awareness about the cruelty taking place.
First, we need to spay and neuter our pets, and make low-cost or free spay/neuter services available to all.
Second, we need to adopt and rescue, so that we make it impossible for puppy mills to survive and continue to abuse our animals with horrendous living conditions, producing litter after litter.
Third, we need to provide the shelters with support – both in funding and manpower. It has been my experience that most of them are well-intentioned and are doing the best they can with a limited amount of resources and an overwhelming burden.
But, we must stay vigilant, determined and committed, not letting the harsh reality hold us back from progress. I know we can do this. We have to work together each and every day to fulfill our collective vision of a life-long, healthy, and harmonious world for dogs and people.
With my background, we relate a lot of what we say and do to food. We need a recipe here for how to tackle these problems. First, we need to acknowledge our culture. Throughout time and especially in recent history, the Hispanic community has helped this nation to elect change, to grow, evolve, and has been a crucial part of the journey to what defines us as a country. We understand that we have to change our way of being and adapt to show our respect for the environment we’re in.
Hispanics, like many other cultures, pride themselves on being respectful to nature, but sometimes we inherit cultural beliefs that don’t necessarily add up to progress. For example, in our culture, some believe that if we get our dogs get spayed or neutered their value is decreased or diminished, they won’t be protectors of our homes, or they are going to feel bad about themselves or ashamed because they don’t have their reproductive apparatus. I’ll admit that I believed that when I first came to America, but I learned, I educated myself, and now it’s my desire to spread that awareness.
I would love for my Hispanic community to put that idea aside just for a moment, completely clear it out of their mind, so they can hear a message that can change and save millions of lives: the problem with pet overpopulation can be solved by our participating and adopting spay and neuter programs in our communities. The benefits to the health of our dogs physically and mentally will be noticeable and impactful. Allow your heart to lead your thoughts because this is when we make all things possible. We always want to know what we can do for others – this is a part of our culture, the “how can I help you” – so why not ask, “how can we help our dogs and community as a whole?” Join me and together let’s find another way to make history.
View Cesar's spay/neuter PSA video.
CESAR MILLAN is a best-selling author and star of the hit TV show “Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan,” airing on Nat Geo WILD in the U.S. and over 100 countries internationally. He is President of The Millan Foundation, a non-profit organization that is credited with re-homing and rehabilitating thousands of dogs across the world.
Learn more about Cesar and read his latest news and tips by visiting www.CesarsWay.com.