To the Editor of the Penmen Press,

I am a Girl Scout Adult Member and I completed my Gold Award on October 10th. The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn. It is typically done in the form of a service project and must provide a sustainable benefit to or beyond the award recipient’s community. I worked with Salem Animal Rescue League (SARL) and a Girl Scout Junior Troop 22200 from Windham, NH to create support for and awareness of the needs of animal shelters, as well as the need for the adoption of pets from them. I donated food and supplies to Salem Animal Rescue League’s non-profit animal shelter, created a sustainability plan with Troop 22200 to ensure that SARL receives annual donations, and informed others of ways to aid animal shelters through community outreach and social media. I believe that by educating the public on the benefits and importance of adoption, the pressing global issues of animal overpopulation and the puppy/kitty mill industry can be addressed.

The puppy and kitten mill business is cruel and concerned with profit rather than the well-being of the animals they are breeding and selling. These large-scale breeding operations are usually inhumane, with animals contained in uncomfortably small and dirty enclosures that are abused and killed off when deemed “useless”. Many puppies and kittens that come from this industry are troubled with illness, disease, and behavioral issues. This is not only miserable for the animal suffering from these conditions, but poses a risk to purchasers and other pets in their homes. Pet stores and private sellers can be affiliated with puppy/kitten mills and might not care about where their animals are coming from as long as they are making money. Not all pet stores and private sellers are bad, of course, so it is important to research the company or individual you are purchasing an animal from to make sure they are puppy/kitty mill free.

By refusing to purchase from sellers that get their animals from this cruel business, or by adopting pets from shelters rather than buying, the industry of puppy and kitty mills can be combated through denial of service.

Animal overpopulation is caused by a lack of adoption as well as a lack of the spaying/neutering of domestic animals. According to the United States Humane Society, six to eight million cats and dogs enter animal shelters in the United States annually, and only four million of those that are taken in end up being adopted to a new home. Three million shelter cats and dogs are euthanized in the United States yearly. There are obviously significantly more animals entering shelters than there are good homes available for them, and there are still more without a home or a shelter to find refuge in. Shelters have a limited amount of space and resources available to care for animals. When shelters are unable to care for the animals they are fostering, they must euthanize those that have not found a home. The majority of animals that are put down are healthy or have treatable illnesses. The spaying/neutering of domestic pets can help with this issue, but the most effective solution to overpopulation is supporting shelters and adopting. By adopting a pet from a shelter, you’re rescuing an animal in need and giving it a second chance. Animals from shelters tend to be extremely friendly due to being exposed to so many other animals in the shelter, and just want a new companion to love. Adopting a pet doesn’t just saving the life of one animal- it makes room for another animal to enter the shelter and have a second chance, too. Older and disabled animals don’t get adopted as much as younger or non-disabled animals, but are just as much in need as they are. Older animals are calmer and less likely to make messes in the house, and disabled animals are just as loving as able animals. Most euthanized animals fall into the senior or special-needs category, so it’s especially important to consider adopting from this group.

Adoption is not the only way to support animals in need. Volunteering your time at one is an excellent way to give back to your community while helping animals in need. Donating online to the Humane Society, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), or similar organizations can help animal shelters on a national scale. Reach out to a local animal shelter and see what food or supplies they need. Make sure your domestic pets are spayed and neutered- it’s one of the most humane ways to prevent overpopulation and the homelessness of animals. If you have a birthday coming up, consider asking family and friends to donate to a shelter instead of giving you birthday presents. One of the most important things you can do to help promote adoption and support for animal shelters is by advocating for them and educating others. By encouraging others to adopt and support shelters, you are raising awareness for underprivileged animals and benefiting your community. Always consider adoption over private purchases!

Alexia Gilardi

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