There are many reasons why owners decide to give up their precious furry best friend, said Emily Cardiff of One Green Planet, a website that helps readers make conscious choices that help people, animals, and the planet. These reasons range from a house fire and job loss to moving to another place that does not allow pets.
Or it can be one of your loved ones is allergic to dogs (or cats), you are deployed in the military, or you are unable to handle your pet’s behavior issues by yourself. There are ways to stop yourself from relinquishing your pet, but what if you really need to give it up?
Over A Million Households Give Up Their Pet Each Year (2015)
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), a non-profit organization, found that about 6.12 million households are re-homing or surrendering their pets every five years. This means over one million households are rehoming their pets every year.
The ASPCA said rehomed pets were most often given to a friend or family member (37%), followed by being taken to a shelter (36%), being taken to a veterinarian (14%), and being given to someone not previously known (11%), and being set free (1%). The most common reasons cited by the pet owners were related to the pets themselves (46%), family situations (27%), and housing issues (18%).
Among the respondents who gave up their pets due to pet-related issues, 26% said they could not afford medical care for its health issues. When pet owners with incomes below $50,000 were asked which service might have helped them the most, 40% mentioned free or low-cost veterinary care. This also included free or low-cost training or behavior help (34%), access to pet-friendly housing (33%), free or low-cost spay/neuter services (30%), free or low-cost pet food (30%), free or low-cost temporary pet care or boarding (30%) and assistance in paying pet deposits for housing (17%).
Of those who mentioned housing-related issues, 43% reported issues with their landlord while 39% said they did not have ample space. The reasons behind rehoming their pets are complex and difficult to change, but it can be resolved with accessible veterinary care, access to supplies and resources, and pet-friendly housing.
The Reasons Why Dogs and Cats Are Relinquished
A study by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP) and published in the July issue of the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science (JAAWS) aimed to find out the 10 reasons for pet relinquishment, cited Pet Finder, a pet adoption platform. The researchers visited 12 selected animal shelters in the US for one year during the study.
Pets were relinquished because the owners were moving (7% for dogs versus 8% for cats) or the landlord did not allow pets (6% for dogs and cats). Some pets were given up because there were too many animals in the household (4% versus 11%) or they could not afford the cost of pet maintenance (5% versus 6%).
There were owners who also had personal problems (4% for dogs and cats). Among other reasons cited by the owners were inadequate facilities (4% versus 2%) and no homes available for litter mates (3% versus 6%). Among dog owners, they relinquished their pet because they have no time for it (4%), their pet gets sick (4%), or it bites (3%). For cat owners, they mentioned allergies in the family (8%), house soiling (5%), and incompatibility with other pets (2%).
Pet owners were permitted to enumerate five reasons for relinquishment during the study. However, the researchers— who also interviewed owners who relinquished their pets to animal shelters— recorded them in that order. 42.8% of dogs and 50.8% of cats relinquished were not neutered, while 3% of dogs and 46.9% of cats had been to a veterinarian.
How to Stop Yourself From Relinquishing Your Pet
As a pet owner, you need to know the estimated cost of raising a pet, as well as educate yourself on how to be a good pet guardian. Before owning a pet, be sure you are patient, responsible, and financially able to take care of one.
Behavior issues such as potty problems or biting can prompt owners to give away their pets, but it’s too early to give up. Consider contacting a professional or a pet behavior hotline for help. If you’re moving to another place, be sure to check with your landlord if pets are allowed. It is also recommended to familiarize yourself with your landlord’s pet policy or to search for housing that allows the pets you have in your family.
You can also have yourself or a loved one tested for animal allergies before having a pet. But allergies can potentially be developed over time. You can use a hypoallergenic shampoo on your furry companions. If you are allergic to saliva, you can hire a professional to train the animal not to lick you.
What If You Really Need to Give Up Your Pet?
Circumstances sometimes do not work in our favor or are beyond our control. If you need to rehome your pet, take a good color photo of it and make sure it accentuates your companion’s best side. Write your pet’s biography, which can include the training (Ex: obedience training) your dog or cat has had or its medical history and current medical conditions.
For the latter, indicate any medications your pet is taking. You can also write down your pet’s favorite and least favorite treats, activities, and foods. Be honest when creating its biography. Disclosing everything about your pet will enable it to better adjust to its new home and family. For example, you can say that your dog or cat needs more training to spare it from being kicked out from its new home.
Ensure that your cat or dog is groomed, up-to-date with its vaccinations, and flea and tick-free. You can also have it spayed or neutered. You can surrender your pet to a humane animal shelter or your friends or family. Even your coworkers can adopt your pet. But make sure to ask if the adopter has prior experience in caring for pets or if they have ample space to accommodate your pet. Ask about their expectations about living with your cat or dog. It’s not a good idea for someone to adopt your active dog if its adopter is away from home for eight to 12 hours.
Your dog or cat may have behavior problems but try to see if the problem can be addressed. Don’t give up on your pet! If you need to move to another place, be sure that the place you are moving into allows animals. Rehoming your pet should be done as a last resort if the circumstances are not in your favor.