My human is acting strange today. I sense something is wrong. But, we’re going on a car ride! It always helps me feel better, perhaps my human will feel better too.
We’ve stopped. Something is terribly wrong … my heart starts racing. Distant cries from others like me grow louder. My human hands me over to a stranger then she turned around and walked away. I called out for her to come back … I never saw her again.
When is my human coming back? – confused, faithful companion
Pet for Life Failures
According to the most recent ASPCA report, around 6.5 million companion animals enter the shelter system annually. And roughly 1.5 million of them are euthanized (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats). The reported numbers appear to have dropped across the board from a previously reported 7.6 million entering shelters and 2.6 million being euthanized.
It’s good news that the numbers appear to have dropped. There is an increased awareness to Adopt Don’t Shop and more and more people are taking in companion animals. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there isn’t an official, national database where all shelters accurately report intakes, adoptions and euthanasia numbers. The pressure is on for shelters to rehome and not euthanize so it’s hard to tell how accurate these numbers are. In any case, awareness is up and we are doing better as a society to care for these wonderful creatures.
Only Bad Pets Go To Shelters
No, not true. Studies have also shown that most dogs and cats are between the ages of five months to three years-old and are usually relinquished after being with their owner only seven to twelve months.
Why are so many animals finding themselves in this saddening predicament?
Here are some of the most common reasons why pet-parents surrender their family pets. This list doesn’t take into account abandoned or lost pets only those surrendered by their owners according to ASPCA.
Family is Being Relocated
With the economy in flux many people are finding themselves having to relocate. This could entail a large move to an entirely different state or country or simply downsizing from a house to an apartment. Either way, this oftentimes means the family pets have to be re-homed. Bradley S. says;
“I had to change jobs which took me to another city. I tried my best (in the short period of time I had) to find a place that would accept my Husky. No one wanted my huge, yet extremely loving dog, so I had to find him a new home and quick. I was ecstatic when my awesome neighbor agreed to foster Jake until I could find a house…”
Fact: Up to 6 percent of all relinquished pets are due to the animal not being accepted by apartment complexes, while another 7 percent are homeless due to the family moving.
Not all allergies are known to the person who has them until they are exposed to the allergen. If this happens to be fur or feathers, most people have no choice but to find a home for the pet. Depending on the severity of the allergy, there are pet-parents that will do everything possible to keep their companion. This can include taking antihistamines, shots and the use of air purifiers. However, for those who simply can’t run the risk of a severe allergy attack, their faithful pals will need to be re-homed. Nikki M says (tearfully);
“my new baby was highly allergic to my two cats. I tried keeping them away from her and even bought a huge air purifier, but we couldn’t take the chance. So I had no choice but to find them both a new home. I was devastated…”
Fact: Up to 8 percent of animals are re-homed due to allergies of one or more of the family members but there are often ways you can manage your pet allergies.
Death of Owner
The death of a person is not only difficult on the family, but it can be devastating for a long-time pet. These unfortunate souls have no idea what has happened to their beloved human-parent and often find themselves abandoned at a shelter.
Unfortunately, the number of pet surrenders by family members due to owner deaths is increasing with the aging population. Sadly, if the animal is aged or in less-than-perfect health, reduces their chances from getting a second chance.
Fact: Up to 3 percent of all animals in shelters were left because of the passing of an owner.
Pets Don’t Get Along
Sometimes pet’s don’t get along. It’s not always something that happens during a first introduction. Oftentimes pets animosity towards each other worsens over time no matter what you do. Sandie M says;
“I had a wonderful cat. She was loving and quiet and just wanted to cuddle. Sadly, my older cat never took to her. In fact, she would beat her up and keep her hiding in constant fear. I had no choice but to find her a new home. Fortunately, my mother was pleased to give her the life she deserved…”
Fact: Up to 2 percent of surrendered pets is due to incompatibility with other pets in the household.
No Longer Care
Perhaps one of the most heartbreaking and frustrating reasons why people give up a pet is because they have changed their minds or the pet ceases to be a priority. They have lost interest.
It is aggravating and sad to see family pets tossed aside simply because a person failed to do the necessary research to get the pet that best fits their lifestyle. Sometimes people decide to take in a pet without having a clue of what they are getting into. Many don’t bother to properly train their dog to raise a stellar pet. Some just flat out lack the care and compassion to commit to a pet for life.
Their change of heart is of no fault of the pet and can be devastating to their life.
Fact: Up to 4 percent of shelter animals are there due to owners losing interest in them.
Profile Of The Top Pet Owners Who Surrender Their Dog
A study by the National Animal Interest Alliance documented the characteristics and demographics of the pet owners who surrender their pets. The profile of the top group who surrender their pets are not at all what I expected.
The study showed the largest group of pet owners who surrender their pets are:
- Caucasian men
- Ages 31 to 40
- Income 35K to 75K
Are They Cold Hearted And Uncompassionate?
I pictured the largest number of pets surrendered coming from financially challenged people. That is what I wanted to believe. Instead, most pet surrenders come from our most promising group of men who are climbing the corporate ladder.
I guess if we think about it, this makes sense. This is the prime career time for men. Their careers become more demanding with less time to care for their pet. What might have started as a great relationship between man and best friend is disrupted by the pressure and demands of the corporate world. Perhaps corporations are to blame, after all, the great majority are not pet-friendly.
This career lifestyle change affects pets who go from having an active relationship with their pet-parent to long, lonely hours that leads to behavioral issues. Crating does’t solve the problem, pet day care can be restricting and boarding costly. Besides, not all pets do well in those environments. The whole situation is a source of frustration and stress for both. I can imagine how difficult this life change must be for both pet owner and pet.
Giving Up A Pet Is Not Always A Bad Thing
Sometimes the most responsible decision a pet owner can make is to give up their pet when it’s in the best interest of the pet. When a pet cannot be properly cared for, all options have been explorerd and their quality of life can be better matched with the right person then doing what’s best for the pet, even if that means giving it up, is the right thing to do.
What differentiates a responsible pet owner from one who should never own a pet is how they go about panning for their care. A responsible pet owner takes pet ownership seriously. They understands it’s a life they are dealing with, not a thing without feelings that can simply be discarded at any time. A responsible pet owner has a plan, this includes preparing for disasters and worse case scenarios even having to re-home them.
A responsible pet owner knows that their pet’s future is in their hands and it is up to them to rehome their pet into the hands of a qualified person or family where their pet will thrive. A responsible pet owner knows that not all pets that go into shelters get adopted and that sometimes pets that end up in shelters can suffer a horrible fate.
The KirinGie.Me Idea
KirinGie.Me aims to help reduce the number of pets that end up abandoned, surrendered to shelters and euthanized.
I believe we as pet owners, good neighbors and animal lovers can step in and help when help is needed. A picture is worth a thousand words, add a video and your pet’s story and your pet will be melting hearts, growing a fan base. A support network that can step in to give a pet in danger the exposure needed to ensure its safety.
The platform I envision is for pet owners to record their pets adventures, build a profile that shows how amazing they are. A place to connect with the neighboring pet owner community with purpose, a common goal to get acquainted with the neighborhood pets and each other, socialize and build a support network to help each other out if ever needed ensuring the safety and well-being of our pets.
A network to call on if your pet goes missing, exchange pet sitting, temporary fostering or help with rehoming a pet even if it’s simply by spreading the word to give pets the exposure needed. Here’s a sample pet profile – meet Sam.
Share your thoughts!
If getting acquainted with the neighborhood dogs could save their lives, would you help?