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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Don't Breed or Buy While 2,151 Pets Die.
By Laura Attwood


September 24, 2012
Monday PM

I enjoyed the share Margaret Cloud posted to the site -- it is a popular favorite of mine that really conveys the problems we have with over-breeding and overpopulation of animals and people's willingness to throw them away without a second thought. However, I think Paul Jarvi missed her point. I don't think she was saying we should not allow more dogs on the island but I do think she was suggesting that we don't need to irresponsibly breed dogs.

In the last 5 years, the Animal Control statistics reflect the humane euthanasia of 2,151 animals at our shelter. This is an astounding number and can be chalked up to irresponsible owners who fail to spay and neuter as well as irresponsible breeders that overpopulate the area. People prefer to keep quiet about what goes on in the shelter, but not me. Ignorance sure is bliss but some of us are not blind to what goes on in this town and believe many should know the truth about the overpopulation problem in hopes of educating people.

Printed here is a quip shared with me by a Ketchikan local. It has been modified slightly to keep their identity private, but truly brings light to the table on the problems we face as a community.

"I noticed your ad on Sitnews seeking a tom for your cat. I can only assume that you love kittens, so I thought I would share a photo of some adorable local kittens from right here in Ketchikan. (Photo) You might notice that these kittens are dead. That is because they had to be euthanized to make room for even more kittens at the Ketchikan Animal Shelter. I and the vets had to euthanize this many cats and kittens several times a week for most of the year. Week in and week out -- for years, I personally held and comforted hundreds of usually healthy and adoptable pets as they drew their last breath and watched the life go out of their eyes. I personally did this job because I believed that every single pet deserved to have someone who cared with them at that terrible moment, and I died a little with every single one. But I kept doing it for years because someone -- SOMEONE -- has to clean up the mess caused by irresponsible owners who create more pets than there are homes available for. Some years -- like last year -- didn't seem so bad, but mostly because the terrible weather meant that more cats and kittens were dying from disease, starvation, exposure to the elements, and trauma and therefore didn't make it to the shelter alive. I've dragged their bodies out from under buildings, pried them from frozen alleys, and even had to use a spoon to scrape up their decomposing remains."

Does anyone else stop and think about this tragedy? Approximately 450 animals from the shelter are euthanized each year here. That is more than one each day. Does anyone ever stop to think about the veterinarian in charge of cleaning up this mess? The person responsible for stabbing an animal with a needle 450 times a year and waiting for them to draw their last breath? Does anyone else think about the Animal Control employees who have to pick who lives and who dies?

I think about it a lot. I have made it my place to hold some of these animals in their final seconds of life. I have shared the pain with veterinarians through this process and it kills me each and every time.

Yet, we still have people hoping to breed their dogs for a quick buck. These dogs are "for sale" everywhere, including on SitNews. It is actually illegal to sell animals in Ketchikan without an animal establishment permit, but at any given time, you can find a cute puppy for sale. And at any given time, you can find a mutt at the shelter, praying for a second chance while their minutes tick away to their demise.

I would like to commend the people at Animal Control for the work they do because it is a difficult job. I commend the veterinarians in this town who have to clean up the messes of irresponsible breeders looking to "breed their blue eyed dog with another blue eyed dog because they want blue eyed puppies, irregardless of breed". I am hoping with the new animal task force, the people on SaleCycle, SitNews, and the people running ads in the Local Paper will start getting their fines for selling without a permit because they are undoubtedly helping to contribute to the overpopulation problem.

Margaret's share is a classic that has circulated the internet for years and is honestly an eye opening share. Please stop to think about the ramifications of unaltered pets, overbreeding, and a lack of homes and resources to shelter these unwanted animals before bringing your own litter into this world or allowing your intact female to roam.

Laura Attwood
Ketchikan, AK

About: "Animal Advocate for Ketchikan, lover of all things with fur."

Received September 20, 2012 - Published September 24, 2012

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