BOOKS: The Pet Surplus
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2002:
The Pet Surplus:
What Every Dog and Cat Owner
Can Do to Help Reduce It
by Susan M. Seidman
(www.xlibris.com; 1-888-795-4274), 2001.
234 pages, paperback.
Written for average U.S. petkeepers, The Pet Surplus sums up
the basics about pet overpopulation and other preventable causes of
dog and cat killing by animal shelters. Susan Seidman emphasizes the
need for pet sterilization, adopting animals from shelters, and
correcting misbehavior that often leads to owner surrenders. She
also discusses finding pet-friendly housing, finding lost pets, and
how to return strays to their homes.
Seidman is more careful that most people who write about pet
overpopulation for general audiences to use current data, so her
statistics, while already slightly dated in some areas, are “close
enough for government work.” Public policy could be based on her
numbers, in other words, without risk of major errors due to faulty
data input. Her writing style is lucid, her experiences as a
petkeeper for about 50 years are both typical and revealing, and her
analysis is more-or-less what most reasonable people would tend to
conclude from the data, falling about halfway between what average
petkeepers already believe and what is revealed by the breaking edge
of pet population demographic research and analysis.
Two kinds of participant in the evolving debate over pet
population control will have arguments with her.
One kind are the self-interested know-nothings:
puppy-millers, backyard breeders, and anyone who believes it is
either fiscally prudent or morally acceptable to kill homeless
animals in huge numbers.
The other kind are some of the people who are doing advanced
demographic studies, and/or developing new techniques of promoting
humane pet population control– who are often some of the same people
whose insights and breakthroughs 10 and 20 years ago led to the
advances in policy and public understanding that brought the cause to
the point of awareness that Seidman succinctly shares.
The big yet-to-be-answered question about The Pet Surplus is
whether Seidman can persuade average petkeepers to read
it–especially community opinion-makers.
Timing may be on her side, as the hope of achieving no-kill
animal control has thrust animal control issues into the mainstream
of public policy discussion, debate, and news coverage as never
before. More of the public than ever before may at last be ready to
sit down and read an entire book about pet overpopulation.