Math was always my best subject in school. And yet even after four years of college calculus there are still some equations I still cannot make sense of. For example, 12 = 127 + 69.
Maybe it will make more sense as a word problem, which I always detested. Especially when they involved two trains leaving the station at the same time. Anyway, let's give it a shot. In 12 days a shelter receives 69 dogs and 127 cats. They have cages for 100 animals. But all the cages are full. Where do the 196 go?
I used to think math was fun. Nerd that I am, but this is no fun at all!
Honestly, 196 animals in 12 days is 16 animals a day. And even with doubling some of the smaller animals up together, we may at best be able to squeeze in 120 dogs and cats in our building. On an average we adopt or place through rescue organizations at a rate of about five animals per day. So that totals 60 animals leaving our shelter during that same 12-day period when the 196 arrived. That leaves 136 animals with nowhere to go.
By now you're probably thinking this is a trick question or a made up scenario. But in fact this is exactly what happened in our shelter a few weeks ago. Sadly it's not all that uncommon. And while it feels like a trick on us, it is more akin to a constant juggling act. One where if you let a ball drop it is deadly. Literally.
This may explain a little better why we are so nuts about people getting their pets spayed and neutered. Why we are so adamant about every animal that is adopted being spayed and neutered before they go home. When you're dealing with the scale of animal overpopulation we have, you take such things extremely seriously. Although not all shelters are so diligent in their application of the state law that requires all animals being adopted to be fixed before they go home.
Last week I found out about a dog that was adopted from another shelter in our state that delivered 13 puppies not long after being adopted. The dog was pregnant when it was adopted and now that dog and its puppies are in our community and our problem to solve. So it's not just people that are being irresponsible but even other shelters that should know better and that are battling the same problem we are.
We are desperate to find the homes of stray pets and good homes (I'm bolding "good" for emphasis) for those that are adoptable. We 're constantly working with rescues to help us and looking for foster homes for the unwanted animals in our community. All so that we don't have to euthanize because we're out of room.
It's why I foster puppies and kittens all the time. It's why we are working so hard to raise money for our low cost spay/neuter clinic that will not only encourage people to get their pets fixed but make it very affordable. It's why every week we're sending animals to rescues in other parts of the country and why this weekend you'll find us at the Pets Supplies Plus store holding a weekend long adopt-a-thon. We all need to do our part to help solve this problem. First make sure your pet is spayed or neutered. Ensure they're wearing a collar and tag with current information. Don't let your pets roam loose. And when they do and they're lost, actively look for them. Check your shelter, vets, neighborhood, places where people congregate and post signs at busy intersections.
All of these things will contribute to solving this problem. It doesn't take being proficient in math to figure this equation out. It takes being a responsible and caring member of our community.
Carrie Roe is president of the Humane Society of Parkersburg.