Pet Over-population: How you can help!

The US has a staggering problem with pet overpopulation.  Every year, our shelters euthanize between 3-4 million pets.  The DFW metroplex alone euthanized almost 200,000 last year.  This means that euthanasias in Dallas comprise 5-7% of the US total.  Staggering.

If you have picked up a stray animal recently and made the calls – you know how overcrowded shelters and rescue groups are right now.  Everyone seems to be at maximum capacity.  This is not a problem that we can solve by increasing shelter size.  We must focus on population control.




As the medical director and an active board member with The Spay Neuter Net (SNN), I am a strong advocate of pet sterilization.  After learning that we may do 70-80 surgeries on a single day, my mother once asked me, “Haven’t you fixed them all yet?”  This idea that there is a fixed number of intact animals illustrates the general public’s under-appreciation of the problem.

We are way behind in this race.  A single cat can have up to 5 litters of kittens per year.  That means that a cat could have 300 kittens if allowed to breed for a 10 year period.  Staggering.

Our only chance at catching up on overpopulation is to get a handle on the number of puppies/kittens born each year.  It is critical that you spay/neuter all of your pets.  Every unplanned litter contributes to the problem of overpopulation.

Stray animals should also be spayed and neutered.  Dogs should be re-homed or taken to a shelter.  Cats are often sterilized and then re-released.


Every litter of puppies or kittens contributes to the problem of pet overpopulation.  This means intentional litters from breeder as well.  It is currently estimated that 25% of dogs in shelters nationwide are pure bred dogs.  Our shelters are at maximum capacity and yet we continue to breed dogs and cats.

Shelters and rescue groups play an important role in helping to lower the annual euthanasia rates.  Every animal that is adopted from these organizations opens a space for another dog or cat to potentially find a home.

If you are not prepared to add another permanent member to your family, you should consider fostering.  Many rescue groups do not have a designated building or shelter.  They are comprised of big hearted people who have opened their homes to provide transitional shelter for dogs and cats in need of a forever homes.  Every fostered animal opens up another space in the shelter system.


We must band together and open

  • Our minds to comprehending the magnitude of the problem and the importance of spay/neuter
  • Our hearts and our homes to adopting or fostering animals in need

Jennifer Lavender, DVM is a veterinarian and co-owner of Metro Paws Animal Hospital, LLC (  She has been associated with The Spay Neuter Net ( for 10 years.  This organization provided over 13,000 low cost surgeries in 2012.  Her permanent pets are all rescues.  When possible, she also fosters dogs for Animal Allies of Texas (www.animal

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