Do your part for animals, but don't overdo it

Dec 09, 2013

Most people who adopt animals from a shelter or off of the streets are usually considered kind and generous people. With so many animals in need of good homes, adopting a dog, a cat, or even several seems like the right thing to do.

Many people, referred to as “animal lovers,” have lots of love for our furry friends, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Adopting homeless pets makes a huge difference to the animals, and also helps the already over-populated shelters — not to mention the sheer happiness that comes from owning a pet. But when some people adopt more animals than they can possibly care for, we have to ask ourselves the question, ‘How many is too many?’

Though many pet owners or pet rescuers’ hearts in the right place, one or two people trying to care for up to 60 animals is surely overwhelming. Recently a pet owner had to surrender 45 of her cats and dogs after a sheriff deputy noticed “deplorable” living conditions and multiple animals inside the pet owner’s home. Many of the animals had special needs or had been abused or abandoned. The loss of most of the pet owner’s animals was heartbreaking for this individual, and it’s easy to see why.

It is true that many animals at shelters with special needs are never adopted, and it is also true that many animals are abused, but it’s not a problem that one person alone can fix.

Having that many pets in one environment without proper sanitation caused a lot of sickness among the animals. In fact, all 16 cats the pet owner had to give up ended up being euthanized due to upper respiratory problems, which were never cured from antibiotics.

Owning a pet is rewarding, and it’s easy to get carried away with how much we love them and how many we think we can care for. But unfortunately love isn’t all that pets need. When it comes to adopting pets, everyone needs to make realistic and healthy decisions, and think of what will come in the future.

Adoption is a wonderful sentiment, and we encourage more people to get out there and adopt animals, but there’s no need to take in more than you can safely — and sanitarily — handle.

Besides, adoption isn’t the only way to help homeless animals — those who are already full-time pet owners can help by finding the animals another good home, volunteering at local shelters or just by donating funds to keep them up and running. If you’ve already adopted several animals, chances are you’ve done your part and the best thing you can do is step aside and let other people take over, even if that means not adopting another sweet tabby kitten.

So the next time you’re looking at all those adorable puppy photos, keep in mind that good intentions don’t always have happy endings, and sometimes it’s best to love the animals you do have rather than add more to the herd. In the end, it’s not about the amount of animals you love, it’s about the amount of love you give your animals.