Someone at the Lawrence Humane Society has been on my mind a lot lately.
If you go back to the Cat Adopt room at the shelter and poke around in the kennels, you’ll find him. His name is Fred. He’s a black shorthair cat with one tiny white spot on his chest and one white back toe.
Fred is charming and playful, friendly and happy. He’s neutered, and he’s always quick to come up to the front of the cage when someone stops to look at him.
Fred also has been with the humane society since April 14, 2008, when he came in as 2-week-old kitten.
That means he’s been waiting for a forever home for more than a year, while hundreds of other cats and dogs have come and gone and now have moms and dads of their own.
Fred doesn’t understand why no one wants him, and I don’t understand either.
He was peering through those kennel bars all last summer, while we went on our vacations and watched the Beijing Olympics. He was still there when we went to the polls in November and elected a new president, and he was there as we saw that president take the oath of office in January. Fred sat as Tax Day came and went; as of Father’s Day, he was still there.
Fred is a victim of a problem that no one at the humane society can fix.
It’s society’s fault, really, that so many Freds sit in our nation’s shelters each day.
And we could fix the problem simply by spaying and neutering our companion animals.
It’s a story we at the shelter tell over and over, yet the message doesn’t seem to hit home with quite enough people.
The fact is that in 10 years’ time, one unneutered male cat and one unspayed female and all their offspring can produce more than 80 million animals.
To accommodate those kinds of numbers, each citizen in Lawrence would have to care for more than 800 cats and kittens during that 10 years.
More than 800 — it boggles the mind!
It also gives you an idea of what the Lawrence Humane Society is up against when folks don’t have their animals fixed. When people don’t spay or neuter and then can’t care for the youngsters their pets produce, humane shelters have to deal with the overload.
And an overload of animals means that we have little Freds and Fredrikas losing their kittenhoods and puppyhoods in less-than-ideal situations. We move a lot of animals through our doors each year, but sometimes it’s just not enough.
Spaying and neutering actually makes for happier, better-behaved pets. Fixed animals are less aggressive, mark their territories less frequently and are more likely to live longer because they lose their desire to roam. Healthwise, altered animals show a decreased risk of certain types of cancers. They’re just nicer pets to be around, and they’re less trouble. Their hormones are not egging them on, telling them to reproduce, and we don’t have to try to curb those normal appetites by keeping them from doing what Nature is telling them to do.
Unaltered animals become a losing battle for humane shelters nationwide. When people end up with more animals than they can reasonably care for, shelters start seeing neglect and abuse, and both of these things take away from our humanity. We all need to be on the same side of this issue as we aim toward a common goal of a minimal number of animals needing care.
We just can’t say it any more clearly than we do on our Web site (www.lawrencehumane.org): “The Lawrence Humane Society encourages spaying and neutering all companion animals.” No animal leaves our shelter without already being fixed or without provisions being made for those procedures to be done.
We even offer assistance: “When funds are available, the Society offers financial assistance through vouchers ($60 for a dog; $40 for a cat) to those who cannot otherwise afford to alter their pets.” Each year, our shelter provides more than $28,000 in vouchers for spaying and neutering animals, all of which comes from donations and our various fundraisers, specifically our aluminum can collection.
If you have unaltered animals, please make plans with your veterinarian to have them fixed. Call on us at 843-6835 if you need assistance. If you can help us out with funding for these surgeries, bring us your aluminum cans or drop off your donation marked “Spay/Neuter Fund.”
And most of all, if you have room in your heart or your home, right now, today, please come get Fred or one of his friends. None of them wants to spend one more beautiful sunny weekend in the kennels at the shelter.