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Care about animal lives? Spay, neuter - and train
August 2, 2019

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On Monday, Cape Coral City Council will again discuss a proposed ban on the retail sale of cats and dogs within the city limits.

The ordinance isn't necessarily aimed at pet shops, but at "large-scale breeding facilities" - so-called kitten and puppy mills - from which the Humane Society says a significant number of such marketed animals come.

As ordinances go, this one won't have much impact on either those looking to acquire a new pet or those selling them.

The ordinance does not address breeders and the Cape only has one pet-oriented store that sells dogs, which the owner has said do not come from the type of breeders the ordinance looks to impact.

In fact, according to animalsheltering.org, which cites two survey sources, only 4 percent of all dogs and 1 percent of all cats were purchased at pet stores in 2017-2018.

This does not mean there is not a problem.

There is one, indeed, and it's not just related to puppy mills.

It stems mostly from what happens to those cute kittens and pups after they are acquired by whatever means.

The reason shelters are overwhelmed across the country can be attributed to two leading factors: Pet owners who fail to train, or fail to spay or neuter - or both.

The primary reason for owner-turnover to shelters is behavioral issues - that cute puppy has grown into a "bad dog" because his owner failed to properly research the breed and its needs, and then neglected obedience training when frisky little Max was young.

Training is as basic a requirement as food and water for a puppy or young dog, particularly those that are of a strong-willed breed or mix.

The most common surrenders are pit bulls and, of all things, Chihuahuas. Others in the top turn-in list include labs, shepherds, terriers, Dachshunds, boxers, beagles and bulldogs.

They are beloved breeds because they have a lot of spirit - and they are surrender dogs for the same reason.

Do your research to make sure that a pittie - so often a wonderful dog - is the best companion for your family.

Then provide the training to make sure that he is.

And please, please, spay or neuter.

The procedures not only have a health benefit for your furry or purry family member, the procedures are the best way to address the issue at the heart of what the Cape hopes to address with its retail sale ban: The needless suffering of animals, be it at an overcrowded commercial breeding facility at the beginning of life or at a shelter at its unfortunate end.

Consider: 6-8 million cats and dogs, at a nearly even split, wind up in shelters every year.

Approximately 3 million will be euthanized; 2.4 million, or 80 percent of them, healthy or easily treatable.

For dogs, the overall shelter kill rate is as high as 56 percent. For cats it's 71 percent.

There also is a financial impact.

The collective cost of shelter operations is an estimated $2.5 billion - yes, billion - per year - with animal control efforts adding another $800 million to $1 billion to that tally, according to animalsheltering.org .

While Council ponders the big picture, we all need to think about the many individual pieces of the same puzzle and do our part, one pet at a time.

- Breeze editorial

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