Every day 10,000 people are born. Does that seem like a big number? Not when you compare it with the 70,000 puppies and kittens that enter the world as well. Do the math—there are not nearly enough people on earth to take in all the animals. Many pets end up being abandoned or becoming strays and those six to eight million are then put in shelter—majority of which will euthanize the animal after a few months. These are huge numbers—one animal is "put down", as we calmly call it, every three minutes. It would be impossible to stop the killing completely—as barbaric as it seems, the animals need to be put down to make room for the next stray—but it is possible to lower these numbers by spaying or neutering your pet, being responsible when you get a pet and adopting instead of buying from a breeder. If we all start to follow these steps we can lower these numbers!

We all see the signs; spay and neuter your pet today! Many people don't think that spaying and neutering is worth the time and money, though. They are good owners—they don't have an animal of the opposite sex and go out with their pet for walks. Why fix their pet? Many times it is people like this who start feral cat or dog colonies. We can't be with our pet all the time and accidents do happen. What if the cat or dog runs away? Then it is an open target for reproducing. Spaying and neutering is extremely important—it lowers the number of pets born a day and keeps you from the horrible situation of having to give the puppies or kittens up to a shelter. In addition to keeping the population levels right, spaying and neutering keeps many pets from spraying, being overly aggressive, attempting to escape, and, according to medical research, often makes the animal live a longer life! Some people fear that the vet bills for spaying and neutering will be high but many shelters are so eager to make people spay and neuter their pets that they have free days or discount days when the prices are reduced. People need to stop making excuses and make the better choice for their pets…and the world.

But spaying and neutering isn't the miracle cure. Even fixed pets are put in shelters. The next step to keeping the scary numbers of euthanized pets down is being a responsible owner. Being responsible means getting a pet not as a plaything or present for the kids but as an addition to the family. Millions of families get their kids puppies and kittens for their birthday but this is greatly frowned upon by many shelters. It introduces the notion that the pet is a toy, not a living creature that needs to be cared for. Sadly, after the December holidays is the time that the most animals are dumped in shelters. Mostly the pets are dropped off with the same story; the pet wasn't taken care of right, it was aggressive, it wasn't what they had expected…the list goes on and on. Another warning is to not adopt a pet when you are planning on moving. What if pets aren't allowed in you new apartment or the neighbors hate barking dogs? Be responsible when you are adopting a pet and make sure (and double-check!) that it is the right option for your family.

Thirty percent of pets in shelters are purebred. Many people don't realize that by purchasing an animal from a breeder an animal in a shelter is loosing a home because of it. The place to find your pet is in an animal shelter. Breeders are not all bad, though. People like them have kept species from going extinct over the years by selecting the animals carefully but that doesn't mean that the pets they breed won't end up in shelters if they aren't sold. Again, thirty percent of pets in shelters are purebred—if you are truly determined, you can get your special purebred pet and save its life as well. Pet store shopping is also a no-no—that puppy in the window does have a home and is most-likely taken care of very well in the store. Now a days, though, many stores such as Petco won't sell pets but instead take animals from shelters and sponsor them until adopted. The world is becoming more aware of the euthanized pets that are America's dirty secret. Realize that one female cat and her offspring can produce 420,000 cats in seven years. Likely those kittens are just as good as the purebreds. In fact, purebred dogs and cats many times have more problems then mixed breeds. Traditionally mixed breeds also have better tempers. When it comes to getting a pet, it is a family decision, but don't let shelters wander from your mind. Your perfect pet might be inside.

More and more people are realizing that shelters are the place to get their pet. Still people turn to breeders, stores and look at cats and dogs not as new family members but simply as animals. By adopting from a shelter, you save money and you save a life. By adopting from a shelter you become a hero to your animal. It is impossible to stop euthanizing animals completely but people like you can help. The next time you decide to get a pet think carefully about from where to get it. Talk to shelter workers. Find out what animals are closest to being put down. You can make a difference. Think carefully. You can be a lifesaver. It's your call, after all.

I wrote this for school. Adopt a pet. Save a life. Don't do drugs.