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MJ's Animal Blog

Monday, January 21, 2019

Why Dogs End Up In Shelters

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Approximately 3.3 million dogs end up U.S. shelters every year, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Thankfully statistics show dogs entering shelters has declined from 3.9 million to 3.3 million since 2011. Each year, 1.6 million dogs will become adopted and about 620,000 dogs will be returned to their owners. However, these numbers are still staggering, and many dogs remain in shelters or are euthanized. As a person who is passionate about dogs and loves the companionship they provide, it is difficult to understand how a pet owner would surrender a dog to a shelter.
According to ASPCA’s National Rehoming Survey, pet problems are the number one reason owners rehome their dog. The study defined pet problems - accounting for 47% of rehomed dogs - as problematic behaviors, aggressive behaviors, grew larger than expected, or health problems the owner couldn’t handle. Making the commitment to adopt a dog needs to analyzed thoroughly or it could lead to yet another dog being surrendered to a shelter.
Here are six reasons why dogs are surrendered to shelters.

1. Problematic Behaviors

Problematic behaviors such as a lack of potty training or destroying part of the couch often surface because pet owners fail to realize how much training is required for a dog - especially a new puppy. Each dog needs a strong leader to guide and set boundaries. Teaching dogs basic commands takes hours and hours of repetitive work. Many poor behaviors are ignored as a puppy - such as jumping on people when they arrive at your house - because it seems harmless. However, it’s no longer acceptable as a two-year-old 95 pound dog, and the dog almost knocks over an adult. When this dog, who hasn’t been trained differently, fails to listen to commands he is often deemed as problematic. However, the reality is that the pet owner has failed to teach it basic social standards. The list of “problematic behaviors” ranges from excessive barking, failure to listen, destruction of property, and so on, but the problem generally lies with the pet owners inability to train effectively.

2. Aggression

Aggressive behaviors such as gnarling, growling, snapping, biting, barking, or lunging often surface when dogs guard their territories, defend their offspring, or protect themselves. If your dog starts showing any of these behaviors, stop the behavior immediately. If a puppy was weaned too early, he or she may not have learned from the alpha dog - often the mother - that mouthing is not an acceptable behavior. Giving your dog a suitable chew toy is a much better alternative to your hand or ankles. Socialize your dog to be around other dogs at an early age and give him strict guidelines like not barking at other dogs or controlling him with a leash. Sign your dog up for a dog obedience class as early as possible to teach acceptable behaviors around people and other animals.

3. Health issues

Just like people, dogs get sick. Some of the surgeries and treatment plans can be very experience, according to the Cost of Pet Health Care Report 2018 by Healthy Paws Pet Insurance. If your dog suffers from a skin condition, the vet costs can be upwards of $5,000. Stomach issues, including the stomach flu, accidental poisonings, and parasitic infections can be as expensive as $28,000. Treatment for ear infections can be as costly as $6,400. A growth or lump might total up to $15,500. In addition to the day to day care of a dog, health problems can exceed the budget, and the dog is surrendered to a shelter. As your dog gets older, more and more health problems may present themselves. Family members can also be allergic to the dog leaving no other option but to remove the dog from the home.

4. Unexpected size

Unmet expectations are the cause of conflict in many relationships but the same holds true for mets. You spent hundreds of dollars potentially to have a mini-goldendoodle that you expected to comfortably fit in your lap. However, your “mini” dog turns out not to be so mini after all and is way bigger than you had hoped.

5. Lifestyle changes

Families change throughout a dog’s life cycle. Some people get divorced, someone loses a job, a new baby is born, or health problems arise. Sometimes there isn’t time for the dog or it becomes too stressful. There have even been cases when a couple who is going through a divorce can’t decide who gets the dog so the resolution is to surrender him or her.

6. Moving

Relocation can lead to a dog having to be left behind. Maybe the new apartment doesn’t accept pets. Unfortunately, due to the Camp Fire in Northern California about 2,000 animals are now in shelters due to being displaced by the fire.

Do your part to help control the dog population in shelters. Evaluate your financial ability to pay for all the dog’s expenses from food, toys, grooming, vet bills, boarding, and potential health issues. Examine the amount of time you can devote to spending time with your dog and training him or her. Do a careful examination of whether anyone in your family is allergic to a dog and get your dog spayed or neutered. The number of dogs in a shelter is slowly declining, and with careful examination we can all help to lessen these numbers even more!

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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