This is a short essay on stray animals. It is deliberately written in straightforward English and the content is also straightforward. Anybody can use it, if they wish, under a creative commons licence.
There should be no stray animals. The phrase “stray animals” nearly always refers to stray cats and dogs. Stray cats and dogs are domestic animals which have strayed from their home where they were cared for by a person or persons.
When a person takes it upon himself to look after a cat or dog the responsibility includes ensuring that their pet does not stray from their home. This is probably obvious but it needs to be stated because it tells us that the reason for the existence of stray animals is the failure of some people to look after their pet properly.
The problem of stray cats and dogs is our problem. If we wish to resolve the problem we need to look at ourselves critically and decide how we can improve the standard of cat and dog caretaking to ensure that they are looked after to a high standard within the family home.
On the basis that it is impossible to ensure that every cat and dog owner acts in a responsible manner, there will always be some stray animals. How do we deal with them? “Humanely” is the only way that we can deal with these animals. By “humanely” I mean decently and in a kindly manner and in a way whereby the cat or dog suffers the very least distress and pain.
If a stray cat or dog is microchipped then he/she can be returned to his owner once the microchip has been read and the name and address of the owner becomes known. This depends upon whether the data on the microchip is up-to-date. It is important to keep microchip information up-to-date.
If the owner is unknown then it may be possible to rehome a stray animal through the services of a rescue/shelter organisation. Stray cats and dogs therefore can be taken to a shelter for rehoming or they can be rehomed directly by the person who finds the animal. Indeed, some people take responsibility for the care and well-being of stray cats and dogs that they find. Although, this can lead to problems such as cat hoarding.
The trouble with shelters and rescue centres is that they are often overpopulated with unwanted cats and dogs. Therefore they have to euthanise them; although the better phrase is “kill them” because the word “euthanising” refers to the killing of an animal because he or she is terminally sick or fatally injured. Often the animals are perfectly healthy.
Because it is not always possible to find a new home for a stray animal it is vitally important that the standard of care of cats and dogs within the family home is raised across the country to ensure that there are less unwanted stray animals.
In general terms, in North America, there is genuine concern about the welfare of stray animals. There are genuine attempts to help them. This is not always the case in other parts of the world such as Asia where stray animals are often persecuted in a rather brutal way. A good example was the mass slaughter of stray animals in Beijing, China before the 2008 Olympics in order to clean up the streets so that visitors to the capital went home with the best possible impression about life in China.
People are often frightened of stray animals because they think that they carry diseases which may affect their health. Stray animals give the impression that they are ill because there are often very dirty and unkempt. This is because they are uncared for by a person. We should not forget that these were domestic animals. This fear of the stray animal encourages its persecution. Cruelty towards stray animals is quite common. People have a moral duty to behave in a kindly way towards stray animals.
The people who are cruel towards stray animals are uneducated and fail to realise that it is only because of the failure of people to discharge their responsibilities in the care of domestic animals that stray animals exist.