Hyunjin C. California

Stop the Homeless-Animal Crisis

About 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters in the U.S. every year, and 2.7 million of them are euthanized.

Dear Next President,

I am here to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves and bring up an issue that many are trying to hide or ignore. We Americans love pets. We say we love pets, but in fact, we treat them unfairly. There are about 150 million companion dogs and cats in the U.S., and about 5% of them are thrown into animal shelters every year, not counting the homeless animals that are not lucky enough to be rescued by shelters. This issue has been overlooked mainly because we Americans call ourselves lovers of the wild and protectors of whales, not wanting to recognize that we can't even protect our closest friends.

The root cause of this problem is our irresponsibility. People often buy little puppies because they are cute and small at that stage of growth, not knowing that adopting a pet takes great responsibility and patience. Pet owners often fail to continue loving their pets once they get bigger and older. Companion animals are not well-made moving toys that can be replaced when they get old. They are literally our companions, or "friends". However, consider the fact that about 31% of pets in animal shelters are euthanized, or "killed". When one gives up on his or her companion animals and takes them to a shelter, they are indirectly euthanizing or killing them. Is that how we should treat our "friends"?

The reason why I am writing this letter to you is not to change people's minds about abandoning their animals. No one can really change what others think, but I am writing this letter to inform you and our people that this is not a problem that we can just ignore. According to my experience, most students think this is an issue that only pet owners or environmentalists should care about. However, I sincerely think our entire society is responsible for this issue and that is why I am writing this letter. Without stricter regulations that prevent pet owners from abandoning their companion animals, our entire society will eventually become less responsible, more selfish, and apathetic to others. Currently, CA Penal Code 597.1 states that every owner, driver, or keeper of any animal who permits the animal to be in any building, enclosure, lane, street, square, or lot of any city, county, city and county, or judicial district without proper care and attention is guilty of a misdemeanor. Therefore, abandoning pets is punishable by only fines. However, I believe the weight of a life is quite heavier than a few dollars. Abandonment of companion animals should be weighted as heavily as abandonment of a child. 

When I was little, I had a schnauzer. Because my family often moved around due to my father's job, it was hard for me to have a close group of friends, which made me to rely on my companion dog. People may disagree with me, but I know my schnauzer understood my mood or feelings and tried to make me feel better, when I felt like I did not belong anywhere. Ever since then, I truly believed that the earth belongs to not only humans, but also animals, and we are created to live in harmony, communicating and understanding each other. Most pet owners probably love animals just like I do, but they often forget about the weight of the life that they are responsible for. The policy on abandoned animals in the current state is just cruel. As the representative of our society, I believe, the government should be responsible for the issue. Currently, in the U.S., we are in desperate need of more animal shelters that do not euthanize, and support for these shelters. Many abandoned animals cannot even be placed in the shelters due to lack of support and funding from the government. 

Dear Next President, I am still in high school and have quite a few ways to go to be an adult. However, I know adults should admit their faults and recognize the problem instead of hiding it. We Americans need to grow up and clearly see what we did and pursue healing wounds instead of cover them up. Before we say we want to save orcas and whales in Japan, we need to recall what is happening to our closest friends at home.


Hyunjin Choi

San Marino High School

Period 2-3; US Government

San Marino High School, class of 2017.

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