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February 1, 2010

Statement on Companion Animals

Assistance animals

Certain animals can help special-needs individuals who have physical, visual, or hearing limitations lead more independent lives by assisting them in the performance of everyday tasks that would otherwise be difficult or impossible. Animals also can alert people to such potentially dangerous situations as fire or intruders. When animals are trained and used to assist humans in these ways, it is critical that the following criteria be met:

1. The animal must belong to a domesticated species; and

2. The human companion of the animal and/or another designated person must be trained in handling and accept responsibility for ensuring that the animal's medical, physical, behavioral, and psychological needs are met

Cosmetic surgery on animals

The HSUS opposes cosmetic and other forms of surgery on animals when done solely for the convenience or pleasure of the owner and without appropriate benefit to the animal.

Homelessness

The number of companion animals in need of good homes is greater than the number of responsible homes available. This results in millions of companion animals either suffering on the streets or being euthanized by local shelters. The HSUS therefore urges people to spay or neuter their companion animals and to solve pet behavior and other problems that may lead to pet relinquishment.

The HSUS also urges humane organizations and animal care and control agencies to require that all animals be sterilized before release for adoption, unless medically inappropriate, and to encourage the spaying and neutering of companion animals within their communities. We support the enactment and enforcement of animal control ordinances designed to regulate, deter, and reduce companion animal breeding, and we encourage cooperation between animal shelters and veterinarians in implementing sterilization programs and other solutions to the problem of companion animal homelessness.

Pets in housing

Thousands of people across the nation face eviction or exclusion from rental or multifamily housing because they care for pets. Responsible pet caregivers, however, should not be denied the companionship of beloved pets; and housing should be open to pets except in those cases in which the pet’s caregiver allows the animal to destroy property, behave aggressively, violate animal control laws, or otherwise act as a nuisance to other residents. Accordingly, The HSUS works to empower housing professionals to develop effective pets-welcome policies.

Pet stores

The HSUS opposes the sale of dogs, cats, and other animals through pet stores and other commercial operations. In such situations, the desire for profit undermines proper care, seriously compromising the welfare of the animals. Furthermore, millions of animals are euthanized each year for lack of appropriate homes—a situation made worse by “puppy mills.” Our investigations of puppy mills and other kinds of mass-breeding operations that produce animals for wholesale to the pet industry also have exposed such unacceptable conditions as overcrowding; inadequate shelter, sanitation, food, water, and veterinary care; and lack of social or behavioral enrichment.

Pound seizure

Animal Shelters cannot operate effectively without the confidence of the communities they serve and must be seen by the public as a safe haven for lost, stray, or abandoned animals. The relinquishment of impounded companion animals from public and private shelters to facilities that use live animals for research, testing or educational purposes is a betrayal of public trust and the implicit contract established between humans and companion animals.

Read The HSUS' position statement on the transfer of shelter animals »

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