Letter: Shelters not a fat farm for pets

Like their owners, too many pets are obese. A recent survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found that 53 percent of adult dogs and 55 percent of cats were overweight or obese. As with humans, improper diet and lack of exercise largely are to blame for this epidemic of excess.

Owners of overweight pets can help their pets achieve a healthier lifestyle by making better food choices and adding daily exercise to their routines. Walks, runs, or play times are good. But for dogs and cats in shelters, these simple changes can be extremely difficult to implement.

Shelter staff do their best, but lack resources to hire sufficient help. National animal groups give shelters little of what they raise - just 1 percent in the case of the Humane Society of the United States. So, by dropping off a bag of healthy food, volunteering to walk dogs, play with cats, or simply donating to a local animal shelter, donors and volunteers can make sure that homeless dogs and cats stay healthy while awaiting adoption.

- Diana Culp, director, Humane Society for Shelter Pets, Adamstown, Md