I recently read that only 1 out of every 10 dogs born will find their forever home. 1 out 10! Most of us want to have the puppy experience and tend to go to private breeders rather than shelters to select our next pet.
Our first dog was a rescue dog and she was fabulous! Our second dog was purchased from a breeder and she was fabulous. Each came with their own set of challenges and their own long list of rewards. Up until now I thought this was personal choice. But when I read 1 in 10 I was prodded to investigate why is it that so many of us stray from adopting an animal in such need of a home? I was very surprised to see the reasons.
For many there is a stigma attached to animals that are waiting for adopting in shelters across the country. There appears to be a mistaken belief that animals in a shelter are there because they are undesirable or broken in some way.
I was surprised to find the real reasons animals are left at animal shelters.
In a Petfinder article, Why Are Dogs Given Up, retrieved from https://goo.gl/2RFT1T the top 10 reasons why dogs are surrendered include “moving (7%), landlord not allowing pet (6%), too many animals in household (4%), cost of pet maintenance (5%), owner having personal problems (4%), inadequate facilities (4%), no homes available for litter mates (3%), having no time for pet (4%), pet illness(es) (4%), biting (3%)”. The top 10 reasons why cats are surrendered include “moving (8%), landlord not allowing pet (6%), too many animals in household (11%). cost of pet maintenance (6%), owner having personal problems (4%), inadequate facilities (2%), no homes available for litter mates (6%), allergies in family (8%), house soiling (5%), incompatibility with other pets (2%)”.
A study led by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP), who also established the above statistics, noted that the majority of surrendered dogs and cats were between 5 months and 3 years of age and the majority of these animals had been owned for a period of 7 months to 1 year. It was discovered that most dogs have not received any prior obedience training and it appeared that individuals who have taken on a friend’s pet have a greater chance of taking the animal to a shelter.
In order to improve the chances of adoption we must first understand the negative perception and the facts behind unwanted pets. These pets, for the most part, are not there because they were destructive, unruly, or mean. They found themselves at the shelter simply due to circumstances beyond their control.
The sad side of these statistics is that when a pet is surrendered, owners believe that their animals will not remain in the shelter but will be adopted out to a loving home. This is not true. According to Top 10 Reasons Dogs End Up In Shelters + Facts About Shelter Animals, retrieved from https://goo.gl/nnSz3j, 60% of dogs in animal shelters are euthanized, 15% – 20% of lost pets are ever reunited with their owners. Also 25% of animal shelter dogs are purebreds. The fact remains that 5 out of every 10 dogs in shelters never leave alive.
Adjusting to a new pet can be challenging. They can be as demanding as a toddler, requiring an equal amount of attention. Puppies can push the limits of the most patient of people. But I can assure you that if you invest the time, effort, and training into your new addition that the rewards will be immeasurable.
I have shared my home with two dogs and I can’t image my life without either of them. Each taught me so much and gave beyond anything I could have imagined. Our first dog died, with assistance, at the age of 11. She had a cancerous tumor that the vet explained would bring a slow and painful death and so we chose to ease that pain for her. Our second dog died suddenly of congestive heart failure at the age of 13. She displayed no signs of illness until about 15 hours prior to her passing.
There is nothing on this planet like the unconditional love of an animal.
I am hopeful that after reading this information, if you are looking for your next family pet, that you will consider a shelter animal.
To the staff that care for these abandoned animals my thanks goes out to you. I am sure that you struggle with the overwhelming number of animals in your care and are saddened that there is a need for your job in the first place.