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World Spay Day Encourages Pet Owners To Take Part In The Fight Against Overpopulation

02/24/2015 05:14 pm ET | Updated Feb 24, 2015

Look at this face.

stray dog

Like millions of other animals around the country, this stray pup could use a home, and you can help. For the past 21 years, The Humane Society of the United States has been encouraging pet owners to spay and neuter their pets during World Spay Day.

The Humane Society estimates more than 2.4 million healthy, adoptable pets are put down in the U.S. every year -- that's about one every 13 seconds. But there's a simple solution that can be better for both the increasing problem of overpopulation and your pet's health: Get your four-legged friends spayed or neutered.

Americans have made quite a lot of progress over the past few decades and 87 percent of owned cats and dogs are fixed, Vicki Stevens, a senior project manager with HSUS, told The Huffington Post over email. But one of the largest sources for strays are so-called "community animals" -- pets that live on the street and don't have loving owners to take care of them.

It's a very real problem you can help fix by heading to a local shelter, but without adequate spaying and neutering, healthy animals will continue to show up at already overcrowded shelters.

"Within the next year, nearly 17 million households across America will acquire a new dog or cat," Stevens said. "Clearly, if only a fraction of these households adopt from a shelter, we would save the life of every healthy, adoptable cat or dog. We want pet lovers throughout the country to make shelters their first choice for acquiring companion animals."

Fixing your pet can be expensive, but there are some solutions for low-income families around the country, like The Toby Project, which provides free and low-cost services to those in the New York City area. Make a call to your local animal shelter to ask what options you can find near you.

If you're looking for a companion of your own and are ready for the responsibility, take a look at the ASPCA adoption site or Petfinder.com.

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