Over the past 50 years, owning a pet has become very popular all over the world. In the United States alone, dog ownership has tripled since the 1960s. One negative consequence of this trend has been a dramatic increase in the number of feral dogs. According to some estimates, there are about 100 million feral dogs and cats living in the streets of America today.
Unfortunately, the biggest factor behind the growing number of feral dogs is irresponsible owners. Some people buy a puppy because they can’t resist how cute it is. Eventually, the dog grows up and everything changes. Now it’s less about heart-melting cuteness and more about going out for walks every day, picking up poop, and paying for dog food and veterinarian bills when the dog gets sick. How do some owners deal with these responsibilities? They don’t. Instead, they choose to abandon their pet on the street.
Another factor contributing to the problem is the trend of shrinking animal control budgets. Now that cities have less money to spend, they are less willing to fund programs that can help control feral pet populations. For example, one program that has been very effective in the past is the TNR approach.
This stands for "trap, neuter, and release." TNR programs help ensure that abandoned pets don’t breed. With no TNR programs, feral pet populations will continue to grow at an uncontrollable rate.
Most urban residents don’t feel that feral dogs are a problem, but this is exactly what feral dogs want them to think. Feral dog packs aren’t stupid, and they know that the less they’re seen, the safer they are. Thus, they tend to stay out of sight until very early in the morning. In total, they only spend about 10 percent of their time in places where humans can see them.