The mission of Cincinnati Dog Pages is to "help dogs by helping their owners". We offer resources and information so that dogs can stay in their homes longer and live happy lives. I thought that this month we would explore the main reasons that people give up their pets, and offer some alternatives. Obviously, there are times when the only option is to find the pet a different home, but below are some options we encourage you to explore first before making that decision.
According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy , here is a list of the top ten reasons why dogs end up in shelters.
1. Moving - Dogs can handle change, especially if their owners make the change fun. But leaving your pet behind at a shelter, alone, scared and confused, is much more traumatic than riding two days in a car with their friend to a new home. Check PetsWelcome.com , MoversDirectory.com or the GoodCall guide for some great tips and guidelines if you are planning a move with your pets.
2. Landlord issues - Renting means getting approval from the landlord to have a pet. Most apartments have pet policies. There are many that are pet friendly. Check our Pet Friendly Apartments page for some in your area. It's better to find the right home than to lie about your pet and face problems down the road. And yes, most dogs can adjust fine to apartment living, with adequate exercise and training.
3. Cost of pet maintenance - Unfortunately, many people don't take the time to budget for a pet before acquiring one, and that can lead to trouble. Proper care is more than just providing food. The average annual cost of caring for a dog can run anywhere from $500-$1000 or more. Factor in the cost of veterinary care, supplies, toys, bedding, training, etc. Plan ahead and ask yourself if you can truly afford a pet at this time. If you find yourself in a financial crunch, there are resources for help. Check our Financial Assistance page for ideas, there are even organizations that can help with major medical expenses. There is a local pet food pantry that can help. Consider pet insurance, the small monthly payment can be a lifesaver in times of large unexpected veterinary expenses, and many policies are customizable to match your budget..
4. No time for pet - These days it seems we all lead busy lives.. Unfortunately, the family pet usually ends up at the bottom of the priority list. But you'd be surprised just how easy it is to work a little time into your schedule for your pet. Ten minutes of quality time here and there can go a long way. Read this article for some great ideas on how to maximize your time and satisfy your pet's needs. You can also utilize a dog walker, pet sitter, or doggie daycare center. Or if you have a friend or neighbor who has a dog, take turns helping each other out, maybe they can dog-sit for you a few days a week. Incorporate your pet into your daily activities whenever possible, talk to him while doing laundry, let him accompany you to the mailbox, etc. Be creative and you'll find lots of time-saving ideas.
5. Inadequate facilities - Many people mistakenly think that they must have a big, fenced in yard for their dog to run around, get exercise and be happy. The truth is, most dogs will not exercise themselves, even in a big yard, and instead spend their time laying around sleeping in the yard. Regular walks, play time or other forms of exercise are just as beneficial, even if you live in a small home or apartment. You can train your dog to use a treadmill to burn off energy. Take her to a local dog park a few times a week, take her for daily walks, get involved in dog sports or activities or go to the local (fenced) park or school yard and toss a ball or frisbee. A large yard is not necessarily the solution for your dog's needs.
6. Too many pets in home - This is usually the result of one or two things... 1) poor planning ahead of time. Once again, before acquiring a new pet ask yourself if you can realistically take on the additional responsibility and expense. This includes puppy gift-giving as well as rescuing and/or fostering additional pets. 2) Pets that are not neutered or spayed. Check our Spay/Neuter page for low cost options.
7. Pet illness(es) - As mentioned before, pet insurance can be a wonderful option for protection against large, unexpected pet health costs. Most do not pay for routine care, but if your pet is facing a high-cost illness or injury, the insurance will reimburse up to 90% of the cost. It is peace of mind so that you don't have to make that heart wrenching decision to relinquish of euthanize your pet due to finances. Do your homework and research to find the best company to fit your needs. And again, there are organizations available to help with special medical needs for your pets, many are listed on our Financial Assistance page. The best protection though, is quality care starting at an early age. Always feed a quality dog food, keep up to date on vaccinations and health exams and you are less likely to face serious illnesses as your pet ages.
8. Personal Problems - Divorce, job loss, and foreclosure on the home are a few reasons people are forced to give up their pets. Many of the above tips may apply here, such as financial assistance. Consider having a friend or family member temporarily care for your pet for a few weeks or months until you are on your feet again.
9. Biting - Behavioral problems are often a result of the pet feeling frustrated or unhappy in his environment. Be sure to provide the basic needs to keep your pet from becoming bored, restless or frustrated. Seek out the help of a qualified professional trainer to solve behavioral issues. Starting early in life with the proper care, socialization and training can often prevent most behavioral problems later on.
10. No homes for littermates - Many people refuse to spay or neuter their dogs and the result is a few litters a year. While the pet owner may be able to find a home for one or two of the puppies, more often than not, the remaining littermates end up at the animal shelter. Check our Spay/Neuter page for low cost options and please spay and neuter all of your pets.
The website pets.911 has some more great tips and suggestions if you are thinking of giving up your pet.
If, after exhausting all other options, you must relinquish your pet, consider contacting a friend or family member first, as it would be someone the pet knows and you could still visit. Try the many no-kill shelters or breed-specific rescues in the area before just taking your beloved pet to the local humane society.
Sources: petpopulation.org; examiner.com; dogs.about.com; wonderpuppy.net; pets911.com; petpundit.com;petswelcome.com; moversdirectory.com
Education is the first step in pet poison prevention.
Pet owners should take the time to educate themselves on the various, sometimes unexpected, pet poisons in their environments. The Pet Poison Helpline provides an extensive list of poisonous items for pet owners to be aware of, but here are a few of the most common items seen by veterinarians:
Many people believe certain dog breed, such as huskies and malamutes, are capable of living outside all of the time because of their thick coats. However, no dog breed should be consistently left unprotected outside. According to the City of Cincinnati, when the temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, a pet owner should not leave their dog outside for longer than sixty minutes without adequate shelter. For outside dogs, owners should provide a warm, dry, draft free shelter with fresh, unfrozen water. Heated water bowls are a great option to ensure consistent access to unfrozen water. Owners should also feed their outdoor dogs more during the winter because their bodies use more energy trying to keep warm. In 2016, the City of Cincinnati passed an ordinance with further restrictions and shelter guidelines for dog tethering and weather conditions, which can be found by clicking here
A common winter hazard that vets encounter consistently with cats is engine belt injuries. Cats will climb into cars to keep warm, and without knowing they’re there, people will start their cars and harm the cats. Before starting your car in the winter, it’s advised to give the car hood a few raps to make sure there are no cats cozied up inside.
Pets start an estimated 1,000 fires per year. While this isn’t a huge number, it’s easily preventable. Pet owners should identify the risks in their home and make sure they’re contained from pets. Risks to consider include, open flames such as candles, space heaters, stovetops, fireplaces, and frayed wires chewed by puppies.
Even if all fire hazards are contained from pets, there’s still always a chance of a house fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) , there’s a home fire reported every 86 seconds in the United States. So while the hope is that you and your pets never have to face a fire, it’s important to have a plan.
In case of a fire, pet owners should hang window clings that let firefighters know there’s a pet in the home. The ASPCA offers a free Pet Fire Safety Pack that includes a window decal. When leaving home, pet owners should know where their pets are and keep them close to exits if possible. Pet owners should also consider investing in monitored smoke detectors that alert homeowners of a fire when they’re not home and automatically dispatch firefighters.
Getting your dog microchipped is an easy and relatively inexpensive procedure that drastically increases the odds that your pet will find its way home if it’s ever lost. A microchip is a tiny chip that’s about the size of a grain of rice and contains a unique identification number. It’s injected into a pet’s skin between the shoulder blades on their back. When scanned with an electric scanner, the chip will show the unique identification number and manufacturer of the microchip. This unique identification number will be linked to the pet owner’s contact information in the microchip manufacturer’s database.
If a stranger ever finds your dog, a shelter or veterinarian can scan your pet for a microchip. Once they have the identification number and manufacturer from the chip reading, they will call the manufacturer in search of the pet owner’s contact information. Therefore, if a dog owner moves or changes their contact information, it’s extremely important for them to update the contact information associated with their pet’s microchip identification number.