Articles Articles (Essential)

They Know What They Know


For too many years, the killing of millions of animals every year in our nation’s pounds has been justified on the basis of a supply-demand imbalance. We’ve been told that there are just “too many animals, not enough homes.” In other words, pet overpopulation. It is true that when it comes to animals needing homes in “shelters,” there is a supply-demand imbalance, but it runs in the other direction. With roughly three million animals killed every year but for a home and with over 23 million available homes available annually, the calculus isn’t even close. And there are plenty of No Kill communities to prove it.

The data and experience notwithstanding, some people continue to cling to the fiction that pet overpopulation is real. They do not have evidence to support it. They do not have data or analysis. They have no idea how many available homes there are (the demand side of the equation) as opposed to how many animals are killed but for a home (the supply side). Aside from a hopeless tautology (Because shelters kill, there is pet overpopulation; there is pet overpopulation because shelters kill), it is received wisdom, where data, analysis, experience, evidence have no place.

There are three million dogs and cats killed but for a home. There are 23.5 million people who are looking to get a new dog or cat every year. What do they make of this? They ignore it.

There are roughly 70  known No Kill communities representing about 200 cities and towns across the U.S., many that achieved it overnight. How did this happen if there is pet overpopulation? Aren’t those two things mutually exclusive? They ignore it.

There are communities with per capita intake rates four times higher than Los Angeles, seven times higher than New York City that are No Kill, higher even than the intake rates in their own communities. How do they explain that in light of pet overpopulation claims? Ignored.

Since puppy mills and pet stores that sell milled animals are only in it for the money, they wouldn’t exist if they weren’t making money by selling animals. And given that they wouldn’t be selling animals if there weren’t plenty of homes available, if pet overpopulation is real, why do puppy mills and pet stores exist? Also ignored.

Instead, we get “I know what I know,” “I see what I see,” “I know what I see,” “It is what it is,” and other mind-numbing, stagnating tautologies that allow for the killing to continue because they portray that killing as necessary and unavoidable, even when it is not. To believe in pet overpopulation is to condone and excuse the killing of four million innocent animals every year.

The good news is that we do not need to convince everyone, just the right people. And here, too, the news is good: Given the growing success of the No Kill movement around the country, we are clearly doing that.

To understand why people who claim to love animals continue to believe in pet overpopulation based on a “I know what I see” mentality, click here.*


Learn more about the myth of pet overpopulation by clicking here.


* For organizations like PETA, HSUS, the ASPCA, and killing shelters nationwide, the myth of pet overpopulation is nothing more than an excuse to kill or embrace killing.