It’s a myth to think that most pets end up at shelters because they have behavior problems. The truth is, most pets are turned into shelters because of changes in people’s lives, which means there are lots of great pets at shelters — and lots of people who have trouble adjusting to change. Here’s a top ten list of why dogs end up in animal shelters from the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy.
1. Moving — Dogs can handle change, especially if their owners make the change fun. But so many people leave pets behind at shelters when they move. That’s much more traumatic for dogs than riding two days in a car with their friend to a new home.
2. Landlord issues — If you rent, then you must get approval from your landlord to have a pet. Some people lie about these things and then when the landlord finds out they have a pet, they end up getting rid of the pet rather than moving.
3. Cost of pet maintenance — Pets are not cheap to care for. The average cost of caring for a dog is estimated at about $400 a year. That includes food, toys, vaccinations, and an annual visit to the vet. It cost a lot more if your dog gets sick or injured, has special dietary needs, or takes medication.
4. No time for pet — That’s a big excuse that rarely holds water for most shelters. What that means is that the family has gotten bored with caring for a pet.
5. Inadequate facilities — What this means is that the person doesn’t have a fenced in yard or outdoor space to house the dog. Why not bring the pet inside then? The dog was probably an indoor pet at first, but something happened, either with the dog or the dog’s family, and the decision was made to put the dog outside.
6. Too many pets in the home already — This usually is the case when dogs are not spayed or neutered. Sadly, people often take the oldest dog to the shelter because the family wants to keep the most newly acquired pet. Isn’t that sad?
7. Pet illness — All too often, people are forced to give up pets when they can’t afford to pay for veterinary care for a pet’s illness. I sympathize with people on this one, since there is no place for pet owners to turn right now to get help with medical expenses for their pets.
8. Personal problems — Divorce, job loss, major injury, foreclosure on your home are many of the personal reasons people give for giving up pets. This is tough because certainly if you can’t pay your own bills, it may be tough to care for a pet properly.
9. Biting — When a dog bites, he’s usually out of the house. Although I think it matters why he might have bitten someone or if the bite was a real bite or a snap. Dogs that snap are often warning people they are stepping over the line and need some training. Dogs that bite can be a problem.
10. No homes for littermates — Many people refuse to spay or neuter their dogs and the result is a few litters a year. While the pet owner may be able to find a home for one or two of the puppies, more often than not, the remaining littermates end up at the animal shelter.
Originally posted on October 3, 2008 by Cathy M. Rosenthal on the Examiner.