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Sophie's final lesson of love

April 2, 2008 - Amy Jo Hanna-Eckenrode

If you are a true fan of Oprah Winfrey, then you are bound to know Sophie, Oprah's cocker spaniel and long time companion. Sophie (left with Oprah) died recently of kidney failure at the ripe old age of 13.  If you didn’t know Sophie was a dog, you could easily mistake her for a friend of the human persuasion when Oprah mentioned her in conversation as she frequently did.

This Friday (April 4), Oprah is dedicating her show to Sophie by airing an investigative report about puppy mills.

While I have nothing against breeders (IF they are registered, reputable, upstanding, forthright, honest and regulated and not out to abuse animals),  I was thrilled to read that after Oprah saw this report she says that she will never again adopt a pet from anywhere but a shelter.

(photo left to right: Jackson, Dutchy and Grant: fur-kids who adopted my co-worker Lesley and her husband from area rescues - who are the luckier ones?!)

According to the ASPCA, it is impossible to determine how many stray dogs and cats live in the United States; estimates for cats alone range up to 70 million.

A new problem is arising according to the Humane Society of the United States: "As a struggling economy strains families, pets are being left behind in foreclosed homes and families are struggling to keep and feed their pets. Click here to learn about a new HSUS grant program aiming to help keep families and pets together."

Let's review a few more facts again from the HSUS:

* The average number of litters a fertile cat produces is one to two a
year; average number of kittens is 4-6 per litter.

* The average number of litters a fertile dog produces is one a year;
average number of puppies is 4-6.

* Most strays are lost pets who were not kept properly indoors or
provided with identification.

*Only 10% of the animals received by shelters have been spayed or
neutered. About 75% of owned pets are neutered.

* The cost of spaying or neutering a pet is less than the cost of raising
puppies or kittens for a year.

* 5 out of 10 dogs in shelters and 7 out of 10 cats in shelters are
destroyed simply because there is no one to adopt them.

You do the math.

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