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"I am only one, but I am one.  I cannot do everything, but I can do something.  And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do."  ~Edward Everett Hale



  1. The First Step: STOP! Do your part to stop the breeding of dogs and cats. As a pet owner, the single most important thing you can do is to have your pet spayed or neutered. It is good for your pet’s health and behaviour and it is one sure way to help prevent pet overpopulation. Professional breeders can help by voluntarily suspending their breeding program, or at least reducing the number of litters their animals produce, until the overpopulation crisis has passed.

  2. There Ought To Be A Law. Every community needs laws for the care and control of animals. These laws can also address pet overpopulation. How about lower license fees for spayed/neutered pets; mandatory spaying/neutering for animals adopted from shelters; imposing a moratorium on the breeding of dogs and cats. You can work with local animal shelters and elected officials for progressive laws. Remember, even one letter to your local representative can make a difference!

  3. Give Your Pet A Ticket Home. Identification, that’s the ticket! A collar and tag can help reunite lost pets with their owners. Lost dogs and cats fill shelters around the country. Those who do not find their owners or new homes face euthanasia. Other methods of more permanent identification include tattoos and microchips. Identification is basic protection for your pet, no matter how it is done!

  4. Choose A Pal For Life. Living with a dog or cat is a lifetime commitment. Once you have decided to make that commitment, go to an animal shelter. Shelters are filled with dogs and cats of all shapes, sizes and breeds, just looking for someone to take them home. Most shelters also include sterilization with the adoption, one more step to eliminating pet overpopulation. Buying pets commercially creates a market for more pets than are needed.

  5. Adopt A Mutt . . . or a Domestic Short Hair Cat! This country was built on diversity. A mixed breed animal combines the best of everything in a very unique package. Cats and dogs of all sizes and colours can be found at your local shelter.

  6. Spread The News. There are little things you can do every day to help spread the news about the importance of spaying and neutering, for example bumper stickers, answering machine messages and t-shirts. These can all be ways to open a conversation about important animal issues.

  7. Let Your Cat Explore The Great Indoors. Whether it is in the city or the country, for your cat it is a real jungle out there. Indoor cats live longer, healthier and happier lives. And they won’t breed more cats from chance encounters. Even the most adventuresome cat can be content inside with toys, climbing options, a companion animal and love and attention from you!

  8. Have A Heart-To-Heart. Take a minute to think about all the people you know. Do they have pets? Are their pets spayed or neutered? Do they know about the importance of adopting from an animal shelter? If someone is talking about getting a pet, suggest the shelter. If they mention letting their pets breed, gently suggest that they may want to reconsider. Remember that decisions that harm animals are often made out of ignorance. A little education can go a long way.

  9. Money Talks. Let your purchasing dollars be heard. Shop only at pet stores that don’t sell puppies and kittens. The commercial pet trade only adds to the pet overpopulation crisis. Even worse, many of these puppies and kittens come from puppy or kitten mills. These are inhumane, mass commercial breeding operations. If your local pet store sells puppies and kittens, politely explain your decision to the owner and tell him/her that you would gladly patronize the store if it changed its policies.

  10. When You Care Enough. Give a unique gift to your pet-owning friends: a spay or neuter gift certificate! Arrange to pay for the sterilization surgery with the pet’s veterinarian, then present your friend with the certificate or letter. You can even wrap it!

  11. 9 To 5. Your workplace or school are excellent places to inform and educate your peers. You may need permission, and you should be sure to respect the rules, keeping things on a professional level. Some ideas include the following: you can put up posters promoting spaying and neutering and adopting from shelters. Leave your name and encourage readers to ask questions. Run an ad or write an article for your employee newsletter or school paper. Arrange to run a pet food drive for your local shelter.

  12. The Power Of The Pen. Write a letter to the editor! Keep it clear, simple and write with conviction. What about? If you see an article in your local paper about buying a puppy, write a reply promoting shelter adoption. Write a letter supporting your shelter’s fundraising activities, suggesting that everyone support it. At Christmas, let people know that a pet is not an appropriate gift. The list of possibilities is endless! You can also write to your local media suggesting they address important issues such as pet overpopulation.

  13. Join The Club (Or Start One). Encourage children to form animal clubs where they learn and share information about responsible pet care. They can make posters promoting spaying and neutering and put them in schools and around the neighbourhood. Members can raise funds to support their local shelters. Car washes and bottle drives are excellent ideas.

  14. Cheque, Please! Every cheque you or your parents write passes through many hands. Add a brief message that everyone will see. Ask where you can write it or if it can be printed on your cheques. It can read “Stop breeding. Spay or neuter your pet!.”

  15. Help An Animal In Need. If you see a stray dog or cat on the street, call your local shelter to pick him/her up. There is always the chance the owners will find him/her there and at the very least the animal will be saved from injury, starvation or suffering. If the animal is a stray in the neighbourhood and unapproachable, do not injure yourself. You may be able to win the animal’s confidence over time with food and persistence. If you see an animal being abused or mistreated, don’t hesitate to call your local shelter. Never assume that someone else already has!

  16. People Power. Don’t be shy about enlisting friends and acquaintances to help on behalf of animals. Form a committee at your church, clubs, school, etc. First educate others about the overpopulation problem and then let them know how they can help as individuals and as a group. You can start a “humane chain” that will link your entire community.

  17. Go Where You’re Needed. Contact animal shelters, humane societies and low-cost spay/neuter programs in your area. Ask if they need volunteers and donate your time and talents.

  18. Have Flier, Will Travel. What is the first thing you do when you sit down in an airplane? Reach into the seat pocket for something to read, right? The next time you fly carry some pamphlets or fliers and leave them in the seat pocket for the next passenger. If you are a frequent flier, ask your airline to consider putting an article in its in-flight magazine on pet overpopulation and how people can help. Don’t limit yourself to airplanes, leave brochures in trains, doctors offices, etc. Anywhere that reading material is available to the public.

  19. The Doctor Is In. Imagine how many people visit a veterinary clinic each week. Pet owners trust the advice of their veterinarians. Ask them to put up posters, or carry literature from the local animal shelter on pet overpopulation and the importance of spaying and neutering, or offer discounts on a particular day, week or month.

  20. And The Winner Is . . . Many businesses, organizations and community groups sponsor poster or essay contests for kids. This can be an ideal outlet for children to express their feelings about animals and what we all can do to prevent more surplus pets. Encourage children to enter and express themselves in a way that can help animals.

  21. Friends In High Places. Write to local celebrities and officials to ask if their own pets are spayed or neutered. Tell them how important it is for them to be a role model and leader in the fight against pet overpopulation. These letters can come from individuals or groups. Your group could even design an honour roll certificate to present to each person on your list. If the project is successful, tell the media and invite them to cover the presentation of a certificate. Your letter can educate influential people and enlist them in the fight against pet overpopulation.

  22. Heel. Many animals are surrendered to animal shelters because of bad behaviour. Having a well-trained pet means a pet that is less likely to run away and cause problems in the neighbourhood. Obedience training should be considered a important as food, water, shelter and attention. It is never too early or too late! Talk to your veterinarian about a reputable obedience school in your area.

  23. Sit! Some people give up their pets because they don’t have enough time to meet all their pet’s needs. Older people may not be able to walk a dog each day and people who travel may need help with their pets when they are out of town. Consider offering your services as a pet sitter. But make sure you can live up to the commitment! A little bit of help could mean the difference between a dog or cat remaining in a family or becoming a shelter statistic.

  24. A Class Act. If your class has an opportunity to put on a play, design a poster or write an essay, encourage them to make the topic pet overpopulation, the need to spay or neuter pets, why to adopt from a shelter instead of buying from a pet store, responsible pet ownership, why cats should live inside - the possibilities are endless. These are all topics that will help animals in your community and help educate others.

  25. Every Little Bit Helps. Any donation you make to your local shelter can make a difference. Your dimes and dollars buy food for a homeless pet, put gas in vehicles that pick up injured pets, pay for vet care for shelter animals, or educate others about the need to help. You may be able to donate other things as well, such as newspapers for cage bottoms. When you help your shelter you are helping more animals than you could ever help on your own.

  26. They’re Not (Just) Getting Older . . . Older dogs and cats may have qualities that make them ideal pets for your family. With an older pet you can skip the months of house-training and dealing with puppy and kitten behaviour. Of course, even adult pets need a period of adjustment, and some new training may be necessary. But you can teach an old dog (or cat) new tricks, and love knows no age barrier.

  27. On The Road Again. Your local shelter is a good place to learn about pet overpopulation, adoption, responsible pet ownership and a lot of other things related to caring for dogs and cats. Contact the shelter about a field trip or visit by your organization or class.

  28. The Cat’s Meow. Contrary to popular belief, cats can and should be trained. We aren’t talking about obedience training in the same way dogs are trained, but cats need to learn how to behave as a member of the family. Cats who are taught proper behaviour are less likely to get turned in to shelters. There are many books on this topic and you can talk to your veterinarian or local animal shelter for additional advice.

  29. The Perfect Match. A cat or dog should be a pal for life. Sadly, shelters are full of animals that people have given up for any number of reasons. One way to help ensure a lifetime relationship between you and your pet is to carefully consider your needs, and what you can give to an animal, before you add a dog or cat to the family. How much time do you have to walk a dog? Are pets allowed where you live? Why do you want a pet in the first place? An animal shelter’s staff can help you find the right pet for you.

  30. Kids’ Best Friends. Teaching caring and compassion begins at home. One way to teach children about the pet overpopulation problem is to not breed your pet at home. You can educate children about being responsible by letting them take charge of some of their pet’s care and explaining an animal’s many needs. Don’t make the child solely responsible! Children should think of their animal companions as friends to respect and care for, not as burdens or points of contention. Decide what is reasonable for the child and the animal.

  31. Bag It. Ask your supermarket manager if the store will print a spay/neuter or adoption message on its paper bags. You may want to make the request in conjunction with your local shelter. Most stores also have community message boards where you can display information; other stores may allow you to put up posters. Check with your local shelter for a supply of posters and literature.

  32. The Best Things In Life May Not Be Free. Ask your local newspaper not to run “free-to-good-home” ads which enable irresponsible pet owners to dump unwanted litters. Some people take the animals and resell them and other animals end up in bad homes, breeding facilities, or as junkyard dogs. People don’t place much value on things, even living things, they don’t pay for, and such ads rarely do any service to the animals.

  33. Advertising Pays. Shelters use classified or other newspaper advertisements to encourage people to adopt, tell pet owners where to look for lost pets, announce events or educate the public. This can get expensive. You can help underwrite some of the costs by enlisting your company as a sponsor. You can also put ads in theater playbills, school yearbooks, club publications and the like.

  34. Get On The Soap Box. If you enjoy speaking, put your talents to good use by offering to speak to groups about pet overpopulation. Or if you’re in a speech class or a debate team, make that your topic!

  35. Look In Any Window. Ask local merchants to incorporate messages that help animals in their window displays. A series of windows could promote pet adoption, explain pet overpopulation and the need to stop breeding, and illustrate responsible pet ownership. Or create posters and ask local stores to display them.

  36. I Heard It On The Radio. Ask radio talk shows to have guests who can address animal issues - someone from the shelter, a veterinarian, an animal behaviour expert. If a station in your area regularly runs promotions, ask it to consider working with a local humane society to air spay/neuter messages at particular times.

  37. Two Can Be Better Than One. Do you have a companion animal? Do you have space, time and resources for two? If you can provide care for another, you can be sure your pet will be happy for the company, particularly if you are not home during the day.

  38. Bonus Plan. Ask your pet store (the one that doesn’t sell cats and dogs) to offer a discount one day a week to pet owners who bring proof that their pets are spayed or neutered.


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