Ask almost anyone who has a pet, and they will tell you that the pet is like family. We celebrate their birthday, have play dates at the park, take them to the vet when they are sick. We even buy Christmas presents for them and put the presents under the tree, and, we grieve their loss when they cross over the Rainbow Bridge.

So why do so many of us, collectively, fail when it comes to the ones that need us most?

Most of us just don’t realize or choose to ignore the amount of overcrowding that exists in our animal shelters, and the level of killing that goes on to free up space for more and more abandoned pets. One day they are our family. The next day, they are statistics.

I suppose it depends on who you ask. Animal shelter leadership across the United States has blamed the public for decades for the overcrowding in animal shelters and their need to kill to free up more space. They claim overcrowding and the need to kill animals on irresponsible pet owners who dump their “family” at the shelter when bad behavior surfaces and are sick of their shoes being chewed on. They blame irresponsible pet owners who don’t spay/neuter their pets. Leadership asserts that they are left to clean up the mess that was made by the irresponsible public. Sadly, the easiest and cheapest way to do that is to kill.

There is certainly some truth to what animal shelter leadership says, but it’s not just the public that is to blame for overcrowded shelters –leadership bears a burden as well. Doesn’t the leadership of our animal shelters have the responsibility to provide solutions to what they claim is the problem? If you know that behavior problems are keeping pets from staying in their home, then, educate the irresponsible. Provide the tools and resources so they can become better pet parents. If you are going to blame the irresponsible pet owners that don’t spay and neuter their pets, provide low-cost and even no-cost spay and neuter services. Don’t add them to a wait list or give them a voucher that is good in another jurisdiction. Don’t pass the buck. Be transparent. Be the force of change, there is always room for improvement. What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

Pet owners: Educate yourselves before choosing a new pet to bring home. Make sure you have the time, energy, space, choose the right size, breed, and age. Be ready to make a forever commitment to that animal. Then, if you do make that commitment, be responsible. Keep your pet safe, have them micro-chipped, spay/neuter, be patient, reward the good behavior so they know what you want, and most of all show them love.

Improving oneself is not admitting defeat. Get over the ego, our four legged friends are being killed.

Unleashing the Possibilities, Inc. is 501 (c)(3) corporation dedicated to the goal of raising funds to help Yolo County build a new state-of-the-art animal shelter. Janis Rosenberg is President of the corporation. Their website is and can be found on Facebook at

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