Companion Animal Fundamentals: What We Included And What We Left Out
Today marks the official release of our Companion Animal Fundamentals, a one-page, one-stop place to get brought up to speed on some of the most important and significant recent data on companion animals. We put a great amount of care into our Fundamentals series so that they’re relevant for both seasoned advocates and newcomers, with up-to-date statistics, and sources that have been double-checked so you know they’re reliable.
In putting our Fundamentals series together, however, we always run into one major problem: deciding what to include and what to leave out. The Companion Animal Fundamentals were no different, and in fact, the process may have been harder than for farmed animals and animal used in research. Companion animals have truly spread their influence and presence into so many aspects of our lives that it’s become very difficult to find the edges. Companion Animals are everywhere, and though Faunalytics can’t be everywhere at once, we’ve covered a lot of ground and have some ideas about where you can explore companion animal issues further.
What We Included
If you’re looking for an overview of the major issues facing cats and dogs, look no further! The Companion Animal Fundamentals have you covered with public opinion data, market research statistics and much more. When you’re ready, click through to check out the full resource.
What We Left Out
Perhaps the largest-scale issue that is absent from our Companion Animal Fundamentals is the issue of exotics. Exotic companion animals are hugely popular all around the world, and there’s not a week that goes by that we don’t come across a news story or a study about the exotic animal trade, which is largely fueled by collectors and/or people who live with exotic companions.
Fortunately, the Faunalytics Library is stocked with many, many articles looking at the issue of the exotic companion trade, and the almost inevitable pitfalls of keeping exotic animals in the home (as well as some tips for how to give rescued exotics the best life possible). You can check out some of our large collection of exotic companion related articles here.
The second biggest (or, depending on your perspective, the biggest) issue that we left out was a deeper look at the subject of euthanasia. It’s a complex topic that provokes passion from virtually every animal advocate, and though we always love a passionate discussion, there simply wasn’t enough room to do it justice. If you’re asking yourself how euthanasia can be such a complex topic, consider some of the following sub-issues:
- Hidden Euthanasia: shelters will sometimes report their euthanasia rates in a way that obscures the numbers. For example, some shelters may say that no “healthy/treatable” animals are euthanized, but they don’t provide a definition of “healthy/treatable,” and their definition may not match up with how most people would define those words. This hinders our knowledge of what the true euthanasia rates are. For some further reading and granular data on this issue, check out Shelter Animals Count, a national U.S. database of shelter animal statistics.
- Economic Euthanasia: This occurs when individuals are forced to choose between paying for expensive health treatments for their companions, or putting them down. Veterinarians don’t generally record this as a reason for euthanasia, but it’s a well-known issue and likely contributes significantly to the overall problem.
- Kill / No-Kill Shelters: Relating to the issue of hidden euthanasia above, the separation between kill / no-kill shelters is one that causes a great deal of division and debate among companion animal advocates.
Of course, this is not to say that there aren’t good answers to some of these issues, or that they are unanswerable ethical quandaries. They’re simply too big, with many statistics (and emotions) at play. They deserve closer attention in their own right, in a more focused way than the Fundamentals provide. We encourage all of our readers to learn more about euthanasia and all of its facets.
The third issue is perhaps not the biggest one, but it’s received a lot of attention recently, to the point that it may seem odd that we left it out: emotional support animals, their confusion with service animals, and the controversies surrounding where they are allowed. This was left out for a couple of reasons: firstly, there are so many developments related to this topic, sometimes on a daily or weekly basis, that it would simply be too challenging to keep this section up-to-date; secondly, the science on the issue is muddy to say the least, and we decided to devote our limited resources to companion animal issues that had a little bit more history, depth, and reliable data.
These are just three of the biggest outliers. We could have also discussed Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs, delved further into the issue of wildlife protection and companion animals, described the best ways to photograph shelter dogs, gotten into the statistics behind giving animals as gifts, the use of cats and dogs in research… the list goes on and on. Fortunately, our library has resources on most of these topics that you can explore on your own.
When we set out to make this resource, we knew that people love their companion animals, but working on this resource has shown just how much people do really love their companions. Dogs, cats, and many more species have become very near and dear to our hearts, and that connection can sometimes be challenging to illustrate fully. Fortunately, we feel that we’ve given you a great place to start, with many different points where you can jump in, and go deeper.