By Nicole Pajer
All across the world, animal shelters are overflowing with dogs that are in need of good homes. But how did so many get there? It can be hard for us dedicated pet lovers to understand how someone could just surrender his or her companion. When a dog ends up in a shelter, it is not their fault. Most behavioral issues, for instance, can typically be traced back to the way in which their former caretakers handled them.
Here are the top ten most common reasons dogs end up in shelters:
1. Lack of training: Many people get a dog without realizing how much training is involved. Dogs do not come trained. They need diligent leaders who are willing to put in the hours setting rules, boundaries, and limitations, and spending time teaching them commands. Puppies do not come housebroken and must be taught to go to the bathroom outside. People fail to take this into account when bringing home a dog and ignore problems, which often lead to behavioral issues. Shelters are filled with dogs that have potty training, socialization, and obedience issues, all of which could have been prevented through proper training.
2. Lifestyle changes: People losing their job, getting a divorce, having a new baby, or encountering difficulties with their health are also common reasons that dogs end up in shelters. A person may become overwhelmed by a dog when they have a new baby, may be unable to attend to them if they are unhealthy themselves, or find themselves too stressed to pay attention to a dog because of a demanding new job.
3. Moving: Sometimes people move and cannot take their dog with them. The home that they relocate to might not allow dogs. They may be moving in with a roommate who is allergic to a dog or simply doesn’t want them in his or her place. There are also cases of people moving into a new house and not wanting to bring their dog along with them so as to keep it clean.
4. Not enough time for a pet: Our lives are busy, and having a dog requires making time to properly care for it. One of the main reasons that dogs end up in shelters is that their people get busy and start to prioritize other things above the dog, thus neglecting its needs. Often, children who pushed their parents to get them a dog by promising to take care of it become interested in other things, thus leaving the responsibility of the dog to their overwhelmed parents.
5. Cost of dog ownership: Between vet bills, boarding, buying food, toys, and grooming, pets can be expensive. Many people underestimate the amount of money that owning a dog will involve, especially if there are special needs or health issues involved.
6. Health issues: Old dogs and dogs with injuries and other health-related issues require more money, time, patience, and attention than healthy dogs. Some people make the decision to get rid of the dog versus continue to care for them once an illness or ailment arises.
7. Biting: Dogs are often hauled off to shelters because they have bitten a member of the family. If a dog exhibits aggressive behavior, it must be dealt with immediately. Biting can be avoided if a dog is properly trained and socialized, and if behavioral issues are addressed before they worsen.
8. Too many animals in the home: Pets are cute and can adopt them impulsively. However, when there are too many animals in the home, it can become a problem. People that fail to spay or neuter their pets may end up with a whole litter and find themselves with nowhere to place the puppies. A dog may be fighting with a cat in the house or may not be getting along with the other dogs in the pack, thus resulting in it being sent to a shelter.
9. Allergies within family household: If someone in the household develops an allergy to a dog, it may wind up in a shelter. People may have developed an allergy to the dog, might have a significant other move in who is allergic, or may have a child that is born with or develops a dog allergy.
10. Strays and rescues: People who find dogs on the street often take them in on a temporary basis while searching for its family. If the dog’s people are not found, these dogs are often given to a local shelter in the hopes that they will be placed in a home.
Cesar urges potential dog adopters to carefully decide before doing so whether or not to bring a dog home. Do your research and factor in whether or not you’ll be able to afford the dog, spend the necessary amount of time with them, and meet their mental and physical needs before agreeing to get one. Make sure nobody in the household is allergic before you bring it home, and be responsible and get your new pet spayed or neutered.
Dogs are cute and are often purchased or adopted on impulse without much thought going into what is involved as far as training and care. Those who get dogs without realizing what they are committing to are the first to abandon them.
If you have a dog and experience a lifestyle change, try your best to work through it without leaving your dog at a shelter. If you find yourself with less time on your hands, consider putting your dog into daycare or hiring a dog walker to give it some exercise and attention during the day. If you move and are unable to take the dog with you or cannot afford the costs anymore, seek out responsible new caretakers for your pet. If you develop an allergy, try bathing the dog in hypoallergenic shampoos to alleviate your condition. If you find a stray on the street, foster it until you are able to secure a reliable home.
By doing your part, you will help to ensure that fewer dogs end up confused, abandoned, and facing destruction in overcrowded animal shelters.