Sterilization, to avoid unwanted litters; identification, which makes it possible to locate the owner of the animal in case of loss ; and adoption, which gives abandoned pets a new chance at life, are the initiatives most valued by the Affinity Foundation Study -prepared with data obtained during 2014- to begin to alleviate the biggest problem suffered by dogs and cats of our country: abandonment and losses.
Abandonment and adoption figures
The abandonment and losses of dogs and cats constitute the main obstacle to the welfare of companion animals in our country. In 2014, more than 140,000 (106,781 dogs and 33,410 cats) were collected, meaning that every five minutes a dog or cat was collected by an entity in Spain.
Despite awareness campaigns, the figure remains stable and is very high. These data are one more symptom that we are facing a problem of a structural nature and that calls for greater intervention and cooperation from all agents, public and private, involved in its prevention: animal protectors, veterinarians and administration, since a greater pedagogical work in relation to the benefits of adoption for more information: (https://www.pinterest.com/tonieakes/).
While the dropouts do not decrease, the concern is greater because, in addition, the adoption does not increase. Only 13% of the dogs and 10% of the cats in Spanish homes come from an adoption, either through individuals or protectors.
Causes of abandonment
The 5 main reasons given for abandoning a companion animal are economic problems (16%), unexpected litters (13%), the animal’s behavior (12%), loss of interest in the animal (9% ) and the end of the hunting season (9%).
Economic factors (16%) and unwanted litters (13%) appear in this study, as in the previous year, among the most mentioned reasons for abandonment.
Although this information may be scarce because the only source is the owners of the animals that are left by them in shelters and that only represent 9% of abandoned pets, since the vast majority are rescued on the street or arrive through people who are not their owners.
Adopt: we all win
Adoption is an alternative that benefits everyone when purchasing a pet: the family, animal protection entities and, of course, the dog or cat itself. The adopters have stated that their main reason for doing so was their awareness of the problem (38%) and to collaborate with the protector (23%) . They have also decided to adopt based on recommendations, because it is a cheaper way and because the animals are in better conditions (12% for each of these reasons).
But adoption in Spain is not a majority option when buying a pet, so its promotion is a fundamental strategy to reduce the population of abandoned animals. Only 44% of the animals collected are adopted, and a part of them are adopted by families from other countries, which indicates that Spain is deficient in terms of the adoption of companion animals, because it does not compensate for the number of abandonments and because part of these adoptions are managed outside our country.
Since the dog or cat is not adopted, it is condemned to spend the rest of its days in a shelter (16%) or, in many cases, to be euthanized (12%).