Americans are expected to spend $47.7 billion on pets this year, while more than one billion human beings in the world are starving and without clean drinking water. What are people spending all this money on? In addition to the animal purchases, they’re buying pet food, vet care, medicine, grooming, boarding and supplies, according to the American Pet Products Association. In the world’s richest country, about 62% of households own a pet or pets, which is about 71.4 million homes, according to the latest National Pet Owners Survey.
This is happening while millions upon millions of people suffer from chronic malnutrition, the United Nations reports. More than 3.5 million people die each year from water-related disease; 84 percent are children, according to water.org. Nearly all deaths, 98 percent, occur in the developing world.
Some people have taken pet ownership to such an extreme that they’re hoarding animals, much like some hoard material objects and consumer goods.
People can hoard many different animals, but the most popular pets, cats and dogs are already overpopulated, according to The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). HSUS estimates 6-8 million cats and dogs enter shelters each year, and of that number, 3-4 million are euthanized because no one claims them, and they can’t be adopted.
Animal hoarding is a growing problem that has been linked to a variety of psychological issues such as obsessive compulsive disorder. The problem of animal hoarding has been shown on an A&E TV program, “Hoarders,” and other shows and documentaries.
“Animal hoarding is a community problem. It is cruel to animals, can devastate families, be associated with elder abuse, child abuse, and self-neglect, and be costly for municipalities to resolve,”
says the Hoarding of Animals Consortium at Tufts University on its website.
The problem has gotten so out of hand in the U.S. that the consortium is trying to get the American Psychiatric Association to include it as a separate disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-V.
Recently, a young girl was depicted on a video floating around the World Wide Web allegedly tossing six dogs into a river. Although it is unclear which country the girl lives in, or why she was allegedly drowning the dogs (it’s been shown time and again that videos circulating the Web are often faked, manipulated or shown out of context), the video prompted outrage among some people in wealthy, developed nations like the U.S. Keep in mind, not every person, situation, culture and country in the world is perfectly identical. Some cultures and countries put dogs into the same category as farm animals like pigs, cows or chickens (which Americans love to eat, by the way). Yet, some people commenting on websites showing the video have gone so far as to call for violence against a young girl. People have tried to find out the underage girl’s identity, tried to publish her name, one man offered a $50,000 bounty for information on her, etc.
This is just my opinion, but why point fingers and cast stones for something one may not understand or know anything about? Why not try to understand this girl and walk a mile in her shoes? Isn’t that young girl worth far more than six dogs? And wouldn’t that $50,000 be much better spent on efforts to assist some of the world’s billion starving people?