Top Ten Reasons for Giving Up an Animal:

WaWaKennelOne of the peculiarities of the humane industry is that it’s hard to separate the bad guys from people who are overwhelmed with owing an animal or inexperienced in successful ownership. We often talk about irresponsible breeders and owners, but there is almost never a name or face that we can connect with the problem. One place where pet overpopulation is immediately personal is at the receiving counter of an animal shelter. I spent eight years being “that guy” and have a fair amount of knowledge of what people say when they are giving up their animal. When a person takes in a dog or cat, there is no way to hide from the truth. The obvious solution to feeling guilty about the fear that your pet will not be adopted is to fib about the true nature of the beast.

To really understand the dynamics of avoiding the truth while getting rid of your pet, try this “Top Ten List” Note: To sort out our list and to make it more readable, I have also included a pet lover’s translation – Ready? Here goes!!

Name the top ten fibs people tell when surrendering their pet at an animal shelter.
10. We’re moving.
9. He’s perfectly house trained.
8. He’s good around small children.
7. My child is allergic to him.
6. We can’t afford to feed him.
5. I’m sure he’ll be adopted.
4. He is already obedience trained.
3. He needs to live in the country.
2. He never barks or digs or eats the couch.
And the number one thing people say when surrendering an animal…is going to follow a translation of what these statements really mean…

  • We’re moving.” If they were really moving, they would take old stereos, ancient refrigerators and thread bare sofas – if they are still functional. The difficulty of taking a pet with them is far less than that old Volks Wagon that they intend to restore, sometime in the 21st Century. This is an open admission that the dog or cat has no real value in their life.
  • “He’s perfectly house trained.” This means that the pet is trained to do his business in the house – perfectly, every single time. You shouldn’t really be surprised at this, as many of these people had trouble potty training their children.
  • “He’s good around small children.” He is good around small children if they are hand cuffed, bound and gagged. The real problem is that their kids are not good with dogs. Even the most patient canine will eventually get tired of being slapped, pinched, jabbed and gouged.
  • “My child is allergic to him.” My child is allergic to having an uncontrolled dog nip him and jump all over the place.
  • “We can’t afford to feed him.” We can’t afford to keep feeding him our best shoes, socks, curtains and television controllers.
  • “I’m sure he’ll be adopted.” I am sure some person out there would love to have an untrained, unhousebroken, destructive and potentially dangerous animal – many polls indicate that a percentage of every population is insane.
  • “He is already obedience trained.” He is already trained to obediently race to the door in answer to the bell, jump on guests when the door is opened, tug unmercifully on a leash and get into the garbage.
  • “He needs to live in the country.” He needs to live in any country other than this one.
  • “He never barks or digs or eats the couch.” He never does these things if he has an opportunity to chase cars, jump on the kids, steal food from the table or bite the mailman.

    It is commonly believed that people who surrender their animals should be confronted with the truth about their actions. While we would all enjoy believing that scolding the people responsible for pet overpopulation will “teach them a lesson”, that is rarely the result. In most cases it teaches the person to lie — in some cases it teaches them to dump their next batch of critters. Until we can change the way people interact with their pets, they will continue to treat them as disposable items, rather than valued family members. My best advice is just the same as if you told me you wanted to be a good tennis player – find a good trainer.

    Oh, I almost forgot – the number one fib told as people surrender dinotheir pets at animal shelters is…a drum roll please!!! ….. ‘I thought the breeder said the pup’s mom was a “great Dame!”‘


One thought on “Top Ten Reasons for Giving Up an Animal:

  1. Heard you on Jeff Gellman’s show. Common sense sadly, isn’t common.

    20 years ago when I was training and reconditioning dogs and working with a shelter I used to hear “they’re all abused”.

    In hundreds of dogs I can think of only two that truly would qualify in my opinion. One of them I took home to fix. She had broken ribs and was covered in cigar burns. Clearly the dog was tortured. Yes, it was fixable. So much for the “the dog will have to stay traumatized.”

    What I DID see, was hundreds of brat dogs that needed training and discipline to stop their egregious behaviours. A puppy that acts like a loon is “cute”–a 100lb brat dog, is not and sadly, some were surrendered because the owner was given bad training advice [give him a cookie, tell him to sit, he’ll stop knocking granny over] or simply didn’t have the financial resources to fix the dog and didn’t know what else to do.

    Sad really.

    Was glad to hear you on Gellman speaking common sense.

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