Let me establish one thing. I love dogs. Not just one or two breeds or just mutts or just a single dog. I love all dogs. In my 79 years, I've had a lot of mutts, a German Shepherd, two Chow Chows (at different times and in different places), fox terriers, an Old English Sheepdog, a standard Poodle, a Dalmatian, a Great Dane, and now two Maltese. Most of these I picked out of litters of unwanted puppies. Others I bought from pet shops when they looked into my eyes. Others I was just given. Four I bought from breeders. My first dog, probably a Border Collie mix, literally saved my life. In my forthcoming book, Dogs and Civilization, I tell that amazing story.
Every dogs I had possessed a unique personality, even two dogs of the same breed. My main charity is to a no-kill shelter. I've studied the scientific literature on dogs assiduously. Their evolution, their cognition, their digestive tracts...all the works in animal science, archaeology, anthropology, social behaviors, communication, everything that impinges on dogs and humans. In my book, I show that, without dogs, humans wouldn't have developed civilization. I'm not alone as a scholar in believing that. I did figure that out on my own, then, much later, on a PBS show on dogs, one of the scholars made that comment. (For the record, I am also a scholar and have intensively studied all the research on dogs in the past decade or so)
So far, so good? Well, no. There are more puppies born than human babies every year in the United States alone. Of those, only one in ten will ever find a family. Notice that ever. Some dogs spend part of their lives without owners, but do get adopted. Those get counted in with the 10% that get a home. Nobody seems to have researched what percentage of dogs are abandoned by their owners.
Considering that dogs evolved in tandem with humans, the big thing each one wants is a human of its own. That makes their ownerless state even more wretched for them.
Although shelters require that every animal that's adopted must be spayed or neutered, we still have an overabundance of ownerless dogs. Many are in the horrors of filthy puppy mills. Others remain caged in a shelter of their whole lives. Millions are put down.
It's easy to deplore shelters that euthanize healthy animals, but, it has to be. There are not enough humans for every dog to get a home. We're dealing with millions of ownerless dogs, with each year adding more.
Shelters have to keep track of every dog that comes through them. Then, population researchers have to ascertain how many dogs can be homed each year. All other puppies should be euthanized at birth.
Private breeders can get permits for their pups, but, they should have to prove how many pups they've sold in a year, how many they're keeping for themselves, and how many are shipped to pet shops in horrible circumstances. Euthanizing newborn puppies saves them a lifetime of grief. Remember, this year's unwanted dogs rises logarithmically as each new litter comes along. Soon it will be more than ninety out of a hundred dog that will be unwanted. As the millions of them are born, shelters or good-hearted humans will become overwhelmed trying to home them, and the problem and the suffering will only increase.