Category: A Moment of Paws
A Moment of Paws: When Pet Care Becomes Overwhelming

Recently, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) took in more than 75 cats from several homes that were overcrowded with pets. While situations like this may be surprising to some, homes overcrowded with pets are more common than you think. In fact, ARL sees numerous overcrowding situations annuallythree already in 2023.

Pets are family and give us so much, and for some, having just one pet isn’t enough. But for a variety of reasons, sometimes the love for animals can become overwhelming and lead to having too many animals in the home.

There are a number of concerns regarding pet overcrowding, which has an impact on not only the animals involved but also the caretakers.

A primary concern is cost. According to the national animal welfare organization the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the average cost of owning just one pet ranges from $700-1,000 annually. Multiply that by 10-fold or more, and the cost of providing care for a large number of animals can quickly become out of reach for many pet owners and may lead to scaling back on food and basic necessities.

Potential health issues are also something to consider. A large number of animals in the home can present a multitude of health hazards, both for animals and people. Maintaining a sanitary environment for a large number of animals is a daunting task, and the presence of animal waste reduces air quality and introduces the risk of illness, some of which can be passed from animals to humans.

Additionally, ensuring that every animal in the home is receiving proper nutrition, grooming, veterinary care, and socialization is also difficult. In overcrowding situations, oftentimes we see animals, primarily cats, that are shy, fearful, and need extensive and sometimes long-term care to become more comfortable in a home setting.

Overcrowding also raises the issue of the importance of spay and neuter. The population of animals in a home can multiply rapidly when the animals are kept intact, which can make a situation more difficult. If you are caring for a large number of animals in the home, spaying and neutering them will eliminate unwanted litters.

Overcrowding is not an uncommon occurrence and it’s important to know that there are resources available. More often than not, caretakers in these situations start out with the best of intentions and simply let the situation evolve over time.

If you or someone you know is dealing with pet overcrowding, reach out to local animal control, or an organization like ARL for assistance. When assisting an overwhelmed caretaker, organizations like ARL care for both the animals and people involved. Whether it’s providing spay and neuter services, or removing some or all pets from the home, the goal is to ensure that the animals receive the care they need, and that the caretaker returns to a manageable number of pets in the home.

A Moment of Paws: Start the Year Off on the Right Paw

A Moment of Paws is a monthly column written by ARL President and CEO Dr. Edward Schettino and aims to offer pet owners advice and tips to use in our everyday adventure with our furry and feathered family members.

As we kick off 2023, it’s tradition for many to consider resolutions in the New Year, but instead of resolving to “improve” ourselves this year, we should all embrace who we are, and focus on our overall well-being, which of course includes our pets!

No matter the age of your pet, there are always small things we can do to positively impact their health, behavior, safety, and overall well-being.

Here are five things to consider for your pet in the New Year:

  1. Consider a Training Course. Perhaps your dog could walk better on a leash, or your cat continues to scratch at your furniture. Now is the perfect time to consider additional training for your pet. The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) offers a variety of group and private dog training courses for dogs of all ages and abilities, and also offers a free pet behavior helpline to assist you when you have behavioral questions or concerns. Training is an excellent way to strengthen the bond between you and your pet, and also gives them an opportunity to learn new skills.
  2. Increase Activity. An additional daily play session with our pets, no matter the species, can go a long way in improving their overall health, particularly as our pets age. More activity also decreases boredom and helps keeps their bodies and minds in peak condition.
  3. Improve Their Diet. When bringing in your pet for their annual wellness check with your veterinarian, you can discuss your pet’s diet to see if there’s anything we can improve upon to fulfill the animal’s dietary needs. This is key especially for our aging pets as their nutritional needs change over the years.
  4. Try Something New. Whether it be a play date with a new dog, bringing your pup on a hike or to the beach, or introducing your cat or small animal to interactive toys like food puzzles, allowing your pet to try something new is a great way for them to increase activity and engagement, practice social skills, and helps improve their overall happiness and well-being.
  5. Get Your Pet Microchipped. A microchip drastically increases the likelihood of being reunited with your pet should they go missing, so if you have not microchipped your pet, please consider doing so. The process for your pet is pain-free and it is a low-cost and lifelong added piece of mind for you and your pet.

For a complete listing and descriptions of all the pet services that ARL provides, please visit our Services page , and remember, we are here to help any pet owner in need, even if you didn’t adopt your furry family member from ARL!

We all want to start the year off on the right foot or paw, and it’s important to remember that you are not alone in the journey of pet ownership and to take advantage of all the resources you can to ensure your pet is happy and healthy in 2023 and beyond.