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Unformatted text preview: Human Ecology, Vol. 32, No. 1, February 2004 ( C 2004) An Interactive Model of Human and Companion Animal Dynamics: The Ecology and Economics of Dog Overpopulation and the Human Costs of Addressing the Problem Joshua Frank 1 Companion animal overpopulation is a problem of human creation with sig- nificant human costs that can only be addressed through human action. A model was constructed to understand the dynamics of canine overpopulation and the effectiveness of various policy options for reducing euthanasia. The model includes economic and ecological factors in human and dog popula- tions. According to the model, a “no-kill” society is an achievable goal at an acceptable human cost. Spay/neuter programs were generally found to be the most effective, with increasing adoptions also being an effective option. How- ever, spay/neuter policies need to be evaluated over a very long time horizon since full impact may not be achieved for 30 years or more. Spay/neuter efforts can have a large impact even if they only effect a small portion of the human population. Adoption and spay/neuter programs were found to work well in combination, and to continue being effective as society approaches “no-kill” dynamics. KEY WORDS: dog; overpopulation; spay; neuter; adoption. INTRODUCTION Human companion animal overpopulation is a problem of human cre- ation with significant human costs that can only be addressed through hu- man action. In many respects, companion animals lie in an unusual gray area 1 The Foundation for Interdisciplinary Research and Education Promoting Animal Wel- fare (FIREPAW), 228 Main Street, # 436, Williamstown, Massachusetts 01267-2641; e-mail: [email protected] 107 0300-7839/04/0200-0107/0 C 2004 Plenum Publishing Corporation 108 Frank between the human world and the natural environment. Legally and eco- nomically, these animals are property and a tradable “good” and therefore lie within the realm of industrialized human society. However, at the same time, companion animals are also a connection between human society and the natural environment. In addition, humans have a certain responsibility for the welfare of com- panion animals. Dogs, the focus of this study, have been bred for thousands of years to serve our needs. They have therefore ceased being truly “wild” animals and instead become dependent on humans for survival. As the cre- ators of a species dependent on humans, we have a certain responsibility for that species’ welfare. Humans also have a responsibility for address- ing dog overpopulation since they are in a sense the perpetuators of the problem. Pet store suppliers, commercial breeders, and private owners (or “backyard breeders”) intentionally produce millions of animals every year to meet public demand. Millions of consumers initially decide to purchase or adopt a dog, only to later abandon that animal because it is inconve- nient or no longer suits their needs. Millions more choose not to spay ornient or no longer suits their needs....
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This note was uploaded on 04/10/2008 for the course ANSC 215 taught by Professor Lutgen during the Spring '07 term at University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.
- Spring '07