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Why Pets Are Surrendered

December 22, 2018

I have written in the past about never buying a pet on impulse. This is a very big and important decision, and there are many factors to be considered before you commit to such a decision. What type of pet are you seeking? What is your lifestyle? Do you have the time to give the required attention to an animal in your care? Are all family members in agreement? And what about the expense?? Many animals are surrendered each year by their owners and end up in shelters or rescue. Sometimes, there are circumstances beyond one’s control. An owner may become ill and is no longer able to care for their pet. Or the owner passes away, and there is no family member willing and/or able to care for their pet. Then, there are some pets that are victims, through no fault of their own, when their owners are unable or unwilling to meet the demands of pet ownership. The puppy is too active or got too big, the cat is clawing my furniture, the dog/cat is too old ... Why are dogs given up? In a recent study conducted by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP) and published in an issue of the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science (JAAWS), researchers went into 12 selected animal shelters in the United States for one year to find out why. The results of the study show that the top seven reasons for relinquishment for both dogs and cats are the same. “These commonalities suggest that there may be similar ways to address relinquishment in dogs and cats,” says Pam Burney, NCPPSP president. “For people who work in a shelter all day, there isn’t always time to look at these issues. We have impressions of what’s happening, but now we have objective data that will help us develop specific programs to address the issues that have been identified.” The top 10 reasons for relinquishment are: Dogs — Moving, 7 percent; landlord not allowing pet, 6 percent; too many animals in household, 4 percent; cost of pet maintenance, 5 percent; owner having personal problems, 4 percent; inadequate facilities, 4 percent; no homes available for litter mates, 3 percent; having no time for pet, 4 percent; pet illness(es), 4 percent; biting, 3 percent. Cats — Moving, 8 percent; landlord not allowing pet, 6 percent; too many animals in household, 11 percent; cost of pet maintenance, 6 percent; owner having personal problems, 4 percent; inadequate facilities, 2 percent; no homes available for litter mates, 6 percent; allergies in family, 8 percent; house soiling, 5 percent; incompatibility with other pets, 2 percent. Specially trained researchers completed confidential individual interviews with pet owners who were relinquishing their dogs or cats to animal shelters. Pet owners were allowed to give up to five reasons for relinquishment. Interviewers did not, however, prioritize the responses. They simply recorded them in the order stated. Characteristics of pets being relinquished In addition to the reasons for relinquishment, the study collected data on the pets being relinquished. According to the study: The majority of the surrendered dogs (47.7 percent) and cats (40.3 percent) were between 5 months and 3 years of age. The majority of dogs (37.1 percent) and cats (30.2 percent) had been owned from seven months to one year. Approximately half of the pets (42.8 percent of dogs; 50.8 percent of cats) surrendered were not neutered. An intact dog or cat can be more aggressive and have behavioral issues as a result of their hormones. And many humans will have zero tolerance for undesirable behavior rather than to directly address the issue and how to resolve it. Many of the pets relinquished (33 percent of dogs; 46.9 percent of cats) had not been to a veterinarian. If you do not intend to meet the financial requirements to maintain your pet’s health and quality of life, please do not get a pet! Animals acquired from friends were relinquished in higher numbers (31.4 percent of dogs; 33.2 percent of cats) than from any other source. Close to equal numbers of male and female dogs and cats were surrendered. Most dogs (96 percent) had not received any obedience training. This data is shocking to me, but it should not be. Teaching your dog appropriate and acceptable behavior pays off tenfold. The time and effort that you put it will result in a well behaved member of your family for many years, and it is worth everything that you put into it, plus more! Characteristics of pet owners surrendering pets During the confidential interviews, researchers also gathered data on the people surrendering the pets. “Owners represented a broad range of age, ethnicity, education, and income level, indicating continued efforts we will need to reach wide and far into communities across the country,” say Dr. Mo Salman, the article’s senior author. It is my hope that in the not-so-distant future we can recognize and resolve the reasons that animals are surrendered, and that there will no longer be a need for shelters or rescues. Animals are loyal and loving companions and deserve a commitment from us: to provide love, shelter, protection, and quality of life for as long as they live. Be kind to your pets, and to each other. On that note, thank you to the patron at the Parkway Diner in Hanover Twp. who insisted on paying my bill this morning, wishing me a Merry Christmas. A true Christmas gift. Wishing all of my readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Dog bless. Resource: NCPPSP Judy Endo writes about pets. Contact her at judyendo@outlook.com.

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