Turning a dog into a shelter should be the last resort of any responsible pet owner. When you decided to purchase or adopt a dog, you made a commitment to provide that dog with a home for the rest of its life. Whatever circumstance or behavior is now causing you to back out of your commitment should be considered carefully. There may be answers to whatever problems are causing you to think you have to get rid of your dog.
When you turn your dog over to a shelter, you lose all control over what happens to your pet. Perhaps you think that animal control is going to find your pet a good home, but there is no guarantee of that. One woman who turned in her four cats to animal control had second thoughts and went back the next day to bring her pets back home. To her horror, one of her perfectly healthy young cats had already been euthanized because the animal control shelter was low on space.
Even if you turn your pet into a no-kill shelter, the conditions of the shelter may be substandard at best. Also, there is no guarantee how the pet will be treated in the home of whoever adopts him.
The right thing to do is try to keep your pet. Some common reasons that people turn their pets in to shelters are listed below along with some possible solutions to the problem.
They Chew/Destroy Belongings or Make a Mess While I’m Away (or other Behavior Problems)
A common source of frustration for pet owners, this is also one of the most easily remedied. Be sure you provide your pet with lots of chew toys. Praise him when he chews on his toys, so he will learn the proper way to meet his need to chew. Dogs are not “being bad” when they chew shoes or furniture – they are just being dogs! They must be taught what is acceptable and what is not. Obedience training may be all that is needed to stop unwanted behavior. Many local shelters offer low-cost classes.
To eliminate the problem completely, crate your dog while you are away. With proper crate training, your dog will look at his crate as a place of refuge. Proper crate training can take a few weeks, so be patient.
We Have a New Baby
Unless your dog has shown aggression towards people, there is no reason to think that he cannot live peacefully in the house with your new baby. While the baby is still in the hospital, bring home an item of clothing that the baby has worn, so that your dog can become used to the scent. Always supervise interaction between the dog and your baby.
Animals and babies/small children should NEVER be left alone together, regardless of size or breed of the animal, but there is no need to rid the house of all pets when a baby is coming.
We Are Moving
If you had children, would you move to a place that didn’t allow children? Then why, if you have pets, are you moving to a place that doesn’t allow them? Your pets are part of your family. If you need to make a move, there are plenty of pet-friendly housing options, and many local shelters provide lists of such places.
While there may be some extreme circumstances that require a pet owner to turn their animals over to a shelter, most people who choose to abandon their pets do so for reasons that are easily remedied.
If you find that you must get rid of your pets, try to find a shelter or rescue group that is “no-kill”. At least then you will know that your dog or cat will be offered a second chance to live with a loving family.