There is an entire pet-industry. Not just for breeding, catching or sheltering them, but also for supplies such as food, cages and toys.
A guinea pig in its cage. Its "territory" is approx. 0.15 m² (30 x 50 cm). In the wild this would be at least 200 m², over 1250 times as large.
Animals are bred to meet people's requirements. Companies use marketing strategies to get more and more people to buy cute pets. Just as in regular factory farming, increases in scale and irresponsible breeding take place, with all their nasty consequences.
An angora rabbit. Only one of the many "models" rabbits come in today. People determine what they like and modify animals accordingly by irresponsible breeding. The animal's interests are of little importance.
Some species, especially the exotic ones, are kidnapped from their natural habitats. Just for Holland this comes down to about 22 million animals each year. On average, one to three percent of these exotic animals die during transport and storage, which is a number of 220,000 to 660,000 animals. With birds, this mortality rate can be as high as 50 to 60%. After the animals have survived their exhausting journey, they are put in cages for the rest of their lives to please us.
Many animals spend their entire lives in extremely small spaces, such as birds, rabbits, guinea pigs and fish. This is not a natural situation for them, and they are hard put to exhibit their natural instincts.
Living space for a rabbit in this "spacious" cage is a little over 0.5 m² (52 x 107 cm). That's approximately 9 A4 sheets of paper. Wild rabbits usually have a habitat of about 300 m², nearly 600 times as large! The animal spends its entire life there. There's no room to exhibit natural behavior such as digging tunnels, contact with other rabbits or sexual behavior.
When people get tired of their animals, they are either killed (flushing fish through the toilet) or freed (turtles, rabbits) which usually means death for the animals because they are not adapted for life in the wild. Animals that grow up with people become dependent, and often don't know how and where to find food for themselves. If they are "lucky", they are taken to the shelter.The animal shelter
Many animals end up in shelters when people can no longer take care for them or if they don't want them anymore. This happens to approx. 2% of all dogs and cats.
Animal keeper in a cat shelter. These animals have been dumped here because people didn't have the time, the inclination or the possibility to care for them any longer.
If they are taken to a shelter, these animals are lucky, because it also happens that people dump them somewhere, maybe in a forest. In the shelter they will live in cages, alone or together, but either way these cages are too small for the animals to behave naturally. Cats are usually castrated, but this also happens frequently with dogs. The animals have no option but to wait until someone comes by and thinks they're cute, beautiful or sad enough to take them home. When the shelter is full, animals are put down to make room.
Dog in shelter
A goldfish is a very small "designer"-bowl
Can we just impose these restrictions on animals?
Conclusion: take a pet?
This article is part of a series on pet adoption. Below the table of contents of this series. Below that even more articles about pets.
More articles on pets
Links about specific animals