Our View: In Mississippi, dogs and cats are a shameful export




Some exports are better than others. In Mississippi, poultry, forest and agricultural products such as corn, cotton and soybeans are exports that share the state's economy. 


Other exports aren't exactly something to crow about. 


Each year, Mississippi sends hundred of unwanted dogs to the northeast, where the demand is high and the supply low because of that area's enlightened approach to pet ownership. 


For years now, humane societies and rescue groups have been transporting dogs north by cars and vans. On Sunday, that effort took to the air. Seventy-four dogs were flown to Delaware on Sunday through the national Wings of Rescue, which has transferred more than 18,000 animals across the country during the past two years. 


While we applaud this effort, we continue to be dismayed by the necessity of it. 


Certainly, these transfers serve a good and useful purpose, reducing the strain that is placed on local shelters through overcrowding and, of course, providing homes for hundreds of perfectly good pets who might otherwise be euthanized. 


The down side is that, after all these years, it's clear that Mississippi has not responded well to the call for people to spay/neuter their pets. There are no "wild" dogs in Mississippi. Every stray was either someone's pet or the offspring of someone's pet. In each case, a person has failed to live up to a basic responsibility common to all pet owners -- to provide a safe, healthy environment for the pet. 


The frustrating part is that there are a number of programs that provide free or no-cost spay/neuter services throughout the year, including a mobile program operated by the Mississippi State University School of Veterinary Medicine. Simply put, there is no valid reason why any dog or cat should not be spayed/neutered. 


In the northeast, many states have laws requiring dogs and cats to be spayed and neutered. In others, there is simply an ethos that considers spay/neuter as much a part of pet ownership as providing food and shelter. 


Unfortunately in Mississippi, there are no such requirements, which means that unwanted pets will continue to be an export item in our state. It also means a lot of animals that would make wonderful pets and companions will be euthanized. 


That's the shameful reality.



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