On October 1, thousands of Treasure Valley residents will walk their dogs in unison at See Spot Walk, an annual fund-raising event for Idaho Humane Society (IHS). But after having fun with Fido, IHS asks that Boiseans also remember man's other best friend, Felix.
"I don't think people take cats as seriously," says Susan Clark, IHS community outreach coordinator. Clark voiced concern about the staggering amount of cats being euthanized at her shelter each year. In 2003, IHS's biggest cat-year ever, they took in 8,000 cats and adopted out 49 percent of them--leaving 4,000 to be euthanized. Nationally, 3 to 4 million dogs and cats are destroyed annually, according to the Humane Society of the United States. The Society also estimates that a single female cat and her offspring can produce 420,000 cats over a seven-year period. "We have full-time employees to euthanize, but we must rotate them to avoid burnout," Clark said of IHS.
To address these staggering statistics, animal associations advocate spaying and neutering both strays and pets. However, the stray explosion has also given rise to "no-kill" rescue groups like Idaho Paws for Life, who contract with local veterinarians to provides temporary foster pet owners for rescued cats and dogs until permanent homes can be found. "Our legal contract states all our animals must be vaccinated and fixed before they are eligible for adoption," said Paws for Life treasurer Sherri Ellis. However, Ellis added that her outfit is on a small budget and currently without a shelter of its own.
As for dogs, Clark said recent educational campaigns have helped "drastically" reduce the number of pooches euthanized at her shelter. In 2004, 6,000 dogs were taken in, with less than 1,000 ultimately put to sleep. Clark is hoping that people begin to realize the grim fate of so many animals. "There's not some happy nursing home out there for unwanted pets," she said. For more information or to make a donation, contact the Idaho Humane Society at www.idahohumanesociety.com or 342-3508 or Paws for Life at www.idahopawsforlife.org or 375-9883.