Anxiously Waiting


Top 10 Reasons People Relinquish Their Pets

and Possible Solutions

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, 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.