Decreasing the population of homeless dogs and cats
The recent article by Phillips et al1 concerning the role private veterinary practitioners can play in reducing the numbers of homeless dogs and cats and decreasing shelter euthanasia rates is a welcome contribution and provides some practical solutions for a serious and difficult issue. As one step, the authors urge practitioners to actively engage in local legislative efforts dealing with animal-related issues or with animal health and welfare initiatives. I believe this is especially important advice, because in my experience, local and municipal councils frequently accept recommendations from local animal shelter and rescue organizations without fully considering the consequences.
One example is local legislation allowing the introduction of trap, neuter, vaccinate, and release programs for homeless cats. Such programs may reduce local shelter euthanasia rates, but typically do little to reduce the number of local free-roaming cats. Additionally, because many owned cats, often not neutered, spend at least some time outdoors, ordinances are needed to prohibit cat owners from allowing their cats off their property, similar to ordinances for dog owners. Such local legislative measures could have an important impact on the numbers of homeless cats.
Michael W. Fox, bvetmed, phd, dsc
Golden Valley, Minn
1. Phillips SC, Hedge Z, Peralta JM. The role of private practitioners in reducing numbers of homeless dogs and cats and shelter euthanasia rates. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2018;253:404–408.
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