Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Simple Economics of Pet Overpopulation

It seems to me that the root of the problem in pet overpopulation can be expressed simply in economic terms. The supply of pets is way, way greater than the demand for them. What we need to do is reach an equilibrium where the supply for pets equals the demand.

Many groups and individuals are working very hard on this by trying to decrease the supply. The primary tool for this is spaying and neutering to decrease the population. A second strategy is limiting the number of breeders out there who simply keep adding to the supply for their own personal profit.

Some may argue that we should also increase the demand, but I think the demand for pets, such as it is, is actually artificially high. Many people don't want animals...they want toys. They want something they can take home for their kids or something they can use as an accessory for a while. Then, when the work sets in, they dump the animals....pumping them back into the supply chain.


Anonymous said...


With respect to your point about breeders, I don't feel that individual breeders can fairly be blamed for the problem. Breeders are businesspeople and cannot be blamed for their efforts to maximize the value of their output.

That said, I have no doubt that they do contribute to the problem, and placing limitations on the number of breeders, if it can be done and administered in a proper fashion, would no doubt represent a constructive step in terms of curbing animal overpopulation.

I agree with your viewpoint with respect to the idea of attempting to stimulate additional demand for pets. This is no way to tackle the problem, and only those who are prepared to assume the responsibility of looking after an animal properly are suitable candidates for pet ownership. Besides, the more you stimulate demand, the greater the incentive for breeders to attempt to ramp up supply in order to meet the demand.

Let's stick to the supply side, where the initiatives which you mention would appear to represent sensible approaches toward tackling the problem in an effective manner.

Ana said...

Point taken. I'm still no fan of breeders, but there are clearly "good" reputable breeders and what are known as "puppy mills." Puppy mills (and I'm sure there are kitten mills too) maximize their output at the cost of the care of the animal. There are numerous cases of puppy mill raids where these operations should have been shut down years ago. Tightening standards for licensing breeding establishments and enforcing care requirements would probably shrink the supply because it would force the less reputable people out of the industry. Unfortunately, it's too easy to make a quick buck right now and anyone can get into the business.

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