Shelter and stray animals: Nurture over Nature


Sparrow Kafader

Leonard, from the Red Bluff Animal Shelter

In 2021, it was estimated that there were seventy-million stray pets in the United States.  Animal shelters across the country have been trying their best to slow the growth of stray animal populations, but they can not do much.  Animal shelters do not have enough funding or resources to find all of these animals home.  

Full shelters and not enough homes willing to take animals homes is leading to unjust euthanization.  Shelters in California alone have to euthanize around one-hundred-thousand animals every year.  

Despite abandoning animals being a crime, people still leave their animals to live on the streets. Homeless animals are subjected to a multitude of issues: excessive stress, the risk of getting hit by cars, being vulnerable to attacks from other stray animals/violent people, and contracting, spreading, suffering from, and dying from contagious diseases.

If abandoned animals survive living on the streets and are taken by a rescue program, they have to go through the wide range of emotions that come with being put in a shelter.  The long and short term effects make the animals at the shelter display behaviors that make the animals seem unfitting for adoption.  

The Red Bluff animal shelter has started the “Dog adventure program” for potential adopters and people with free time to take the dogs out on “doggie dates” to see how the animals act outside of their stressful environment.  For those not thinking about adopting an animal, taking a dog out of the shelter can give them a chance to spend a few hours outside of the shelter, and by extension a break from the stressful feelings linked to the shelter.

Cat’s do not get the chance to spend time outside of the shelter.  Depression, aggression, and anxiety issues are more common in shelter cats than they are in shelter dogs.  Cats are more likely to be killed and abandoned on the streets.  Specifically black cats, who are targeted for their villainized behaviors and being rumored to, “bring bad luck”.

Ways that people can help lower homeless animal populations are spaying and neutering your animals, keeping an animal for life, microchipping your pets, adopting a shelter pet instead of getting a new puppy, stopping or lowering at-home puppy breeding, and donating to spaying or neutering programs.

Emotional issues in pets are not dependent on breed, they are caused by the owners.  Improper training, treatment, living environments, and untreated mental issues lead to violent dogs.  Stereotypical “violent breeds” like pit bulls are the most common breed to be put in shelters.  

Breeds do display certain behaviors, but being a violent dog is not one of those traits.  Widening your horizon and looking into adopting “dangerous dog breeds” can help rehome more shelter and stray dogs.