Why Do Animals End Up in Animal Shelters?
October 03, 2012 at 9:00:30 am | Posted by Jennifer B. in Cat Adoption, Cat Behavior, Dog Adoption, Dog Behavior, Pet Adoption, Pet Care, Pet Identification, Pet MicrochippingTweet
Each year, between 6-8 million animals end up in animal shelters in the United States. Ultimately, 75% of all cats and 50% of all dogs that enter those shelters are killed. Why do they end up there? The National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP) researchers went into 12 selected animal shelters in the United States and the AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) published their findings for the top ten reasons that people say that they are surrendering an animal. Keep in mind that this is only based on those animals that were surrendered by their owner – many animals that end up at the shelter are picked up by animal control or found by a stranger and cannot say why their owner abandoned them.
- Landlord does not allow pet
- Too many animals in household
- Cost of pet maintenance
- Owner having personal problems / Illness / Death
- Inadequate facilities
- No homes available for litter mates
- Having no time for pet
- Pet illness(es)
For cats, the reasons they found were the same plus:
- Cat allergies in family
- House soiling
- Incompatibility with other pets
I have been volunteering in shelters for 17+ years and those are the same reasons that I hear each time I’m in a shelter. Some animal welfare hardliners will say that there is NO REASON that someone should bring their animal to the shelter–especially as the risk for euthanasia is so high.
There are times when I can agree with that point of view. If you have a 5 year old cat and you’re moving and your new landlord won’t allow cats, then you’re doing a disservice to your animal. Take the time to network your cat and don’t move your household until you do. Very few individuals will welcome a senior pet into their home, and in shelter math, 5 is old. However, if you have lost your job and you can’t even afford vaccinations for your young pet, bringing it to the shelter and allowing it to have a chance at another home is the right thing to do. Many people will simply dump their pet in a park, hoping that a kind individual will take them home.That leaves their pet vulnerable to predators, disease and cars. The animal shelter can be a safe place–food, shelter, medicine… Some pets don’t get that at their home and if that home isn’t able to provide those things, a shelter can be a good alternative.
The other obvious reason that animals end up at the shelter is that they get out of their yards/homes and without pet identification, animal control or a neighbor will bring them to the shelter. It’s a great reason to have visible ID on your pet at all times. It also serves as a reminder that if you DO find a loose animal, turn them into the shelter. If one of my dogs were lost, I wouldn’t think to check every neighbor’s garage, but I would run to the closest shelters to find them.
People who work at shelters love animals–believe me, they are not in it for the money and the glamour. And every single one of them wishes that their job was unnecessary and that people would be responsible with their pets. If they were writing to pet owners, they would ask, no, BEG all owners to get their animals sterilized. There are a multitude of places that offer free or low cost spay or neuter, so price is not the issue. Dogs that are fixed are 4.5 times LESS likely to bite, and they have a lower risk of getting many types of diseases such as cancer.
It’s also important to have a plan for your pet—what will happen if you can no longer care for it? If vet bills pile up? What steps are you taking to make your pet a good citizen of your community? Are you consistent about picking up their poop? Do you make sure that every stranger you meet on your walk is dog-friendly BEFORE you allow your dog to sniff them? Do you let your cat roam and use the neighborhood birds for snacks? These are the types of behaviors that discourage landlords from allowing pets. As pet owners, we need to take responsibility not just for our pets, but also our actions that help make the world more pet-friendly to our best friends.
Have you ever had to rehome a pet? Why? Leave us a comment below.
cat adoption    cat behavior    cat care    Dog Adoption    dog behavior    dog care    pet adoption    pet identification    pet microchip