Words from the 3p editors
Northampton, MA –News Direct– TriplePundit
Despite Americans’ widespread affection for pets, the reality is that at any given time, nearly 48 million cats and dogs are homeless in the US.
Leading this daunting challenge is Dr. Ellen Jefferson, animal welfare advocate, longtime pet shelter veterinarian, and president and CEO of the Texas Animal Shelter. austin live pets.
TriplePundit spoke with Dr. Jefferson from her Austin office to learn more about this ongoing issue and how individuals and businesses can help address pet homelessness. She also put to rest some common assumptions many of us still have about why countless dogs and cats can’t find safe, loving homes, and talks about new research from Mars Petcarethe world’s leading pet care company by revenue, on the state of homeless pets globally and the role of private sector partners in creating a world where all pets are wanted, cared for and welcomed.
Homelessness is driven locally by gaps in financing and technology
The current model under which most animal shelters operate is based on an outdated approach that municipalities have long taken with regard to unwanted pets. For years, the emphasis has been on preventing the spread of diseases like rabies. To that end, shelters were designed and managed to contain animals until the time came for a common and sad outcome: pet euthanasia, as the vast majority of shelters are neither staffed nor resourced to help these dogs and cats to land in a new house.
“Only 0.2 percent of local government funding goes to animal shelters, and that’s a problem when community members think pets are part of their family,” explained Dr. Jefferson.
However, the role shelters play within their local communities has had to evolve with the times. “The problem with government shelters is that they are often seen as the bottom rung and the lowest priority of safety nets within communities, making them responsible for addressing problems that are not addressed elsewhere” Dr. Jefferson continued.
Furthermore, the shelters now face a very different reality. They are not only tasked with storing stray animals. Due to the decades-long effort to spay and neuter pets in the US, the population of animals entering shelters is actually very low, Dr. Jefferson said.
“For every pet in an animal shelter, there are about eight people willing and ready to take them home,” he explained. “But the problem is that the industry has not been able to modernize to meet the demand. There is no longer an ‘infestation,’ but there are hundreds of barriers we face in finding these pets a new home.”
The lack of information about the driving forces behind pet homelessness leaves many of those barriers unaddressed. “That myth of overpopulation is very widespread. We need to debunk that mindset with data and tell legislators that this is no longer acceptable, and provide the necessary budget for shelters to have the resources they need,” Dr. Jefferson continued. “We need to bring together people who are determined to solve these big social problems.”
How businesses can lend resources to help pets and families find each other
The quest to secure more government funding may be a long one for animal shelters in the US, but Dr. Jefferson insisted that companies can step in where lawmakers are falling short. “Companies can help with innovation, entrepreneurship and industry commercialization,” he told us.
In particular, companies in the technology sector can help animal shelters modernize through software and better serve their communities. Of course, not all shelters could be part of such a big change; after all, many shelters are small operations staffed by one person who may not have a computer in the first place. Still, modernizing such systems would offer many shelters a fresh start and a new role in helping strengthen communities, whether it’s reuniting lost animals with their families or finding new homes for homeless pets.
“We need to bring human health software to help track individual pets,” Dr. Jefferson suggested. “It’s a similar concept to tracking a person through a hospital system, but we’re using safe haven software that’s designed for jails, not hospitals.”
Yes, you read Dr. Jefferson right: Most shelter software is based on an incarceration model, not one focused on health or wellness. “The most common software package is a subset of prison software; the bar is set by that. It’s a space that has had no innovation and no competition, so when it comes to animals in shelters, we’re about 25 years behind,” he said.
A common and tragic result is that stray pets (even those with homes) can easily become lost in the shelter system. “Fifty percent or more of the animals that go into shelters don’t need to be there at all. The vast majority are within a block of home when they are picked up,” Dr. Jefferson told 3p. “But once an animal gets into a shelter, and one that’s often across town, their chances of being claimed go down to 10 percent.”
A step forward to address pet homelessness
Negative perceptions in some communities about adopting and fostering homeless pets are among the barriers to ensuring every pet has a loving home, which organizations like Mars Petcare focus on addressing. The company provides resources for local governments and pet owners through its Best Cities for Pets Program. It also donates pet food to shelters through its pet nutrition brands such as Pedigree, Nutro, Iams, Sheba, and Cesar, and holds regular adoption events, including its annual event. adoption weekend with the Pedigree Foundation.
The company also recently launched its first State Homeless Pet Index, research that measures and tracks the underlying causes that lead to pet abandonment, thus seeking to identify the key issues that need to be resolved to address such challenges. Mars Petcare developed this work in collaboration with animal welfare organizations and experts, resulting in an index comprised of quantitative research and data from more than 200 global and local sources to understand the issues and find the best possible responses.
As starting point, The index focuses on nine countries around the world, and the findings are staggering: In those nations alone, 224 million cats and dogs are homeless, and less than 10 percent of them are housed in shelters. The US has an overall average rating on the index: higher than countries like Greece and Mexico, but lower than Germany and the UK.
The leadership at Mars is hopeful that the data will inform and accelerate collective progress in ending pet homelessness. “We have learned through our work over the last decade that this problem demands both global attention and local intervention,” said Ikdeep Singh, regional president of Mars Petcare. “Companies can start by understanding the problem in the communities where they operate and collaborating on solutions with local animal welfare organizations like Austin Pets Alive. We hope that more people will come together to address pet homelessness.”
Dr. Jefferson is on the advisory board for Mars Petcare’s State of the Pet Homeless Index and said the study is crucial for anyone working in this space to understand the ongoing disconnect between the demand for pets and the millions of pets that need homes.
“The Index is a framework for understanding what is happening, something that has never been done before around the world,” said Dr. Jefferson. “I am excited to work with Mars and see this emphasis on a global approach to ending pet homelessness.”
This article series is sponsored by Mars and produced by the TriplePundit editorial team.
See the source version on newsdirect.com: https://newsdirect.com/news/pet-homelessness-shouldnt-be-happening-hers-how-companies-and-individuals-can-help-353277414