Our Man in Washington: Pet Overpopulation Crisis

Pet overpopulation, primarily of cats and dogs, had become enough of a concern in 1973 that policymakers and experts were looking into ways of lowering their birthrates.

| September/October 1973

  • Our Man in Washington - Puppies and Kittens - Fotolia
    In the early 1970s pet overpopulation began to attract the attention of policymakers.

  • Our Man in Washington - Puppies and Kittens - Fotolia


"In today's throwaway society, pets have become just another disposable item. "

With 90 million dogs and cats alive in the United States, pet overpopulation is beginning to reach crisis proportions.

No official pet census has ever been taken, so officials vary in specific head counts of dogs and cats. Some experts, however, fully expect the number of such animals to climb to 200 million in the U.S. during the next decade.

The birthrates are worrisome enough. Dogs are about 15 times and cats at least 30 times more prolific than people.

But the pet boom is also big business. Your local pet shop—which now takes credit cards—is part of a $4.5 billion annual business that is encouraging propagation, not birth control.


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