Let’s talk about a ‘taboo’ subject – surrendering your pets.
We believe that dogs are for life; and if you’re reading this website, you probably do too. The idea of surrendering your beloved pet to a shelter horrifies you!
In an ideal world, this would always be a black and white issue. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and sometimes dogs are surrendered to shelters or rescue organisations to be re homed.
Who would do that?
Why do people give away their pets?
The answers are many and varied.
Firstly, situations do change. While some pet owners may be guilty of a lack of foresight and/or poor planning, many people are affected by unforeseen and sudden changes. As rescuers, we need to empathise with and understand the people as well as the dogs.
At Moving Paws Inc, many of the dogs that we rehome come from elderly owners who are no longer able to care for them. Their humans may have become unwell or moved into a retirement home where they are unable to take their much-loved pets. This can be a very sad situation for pets and people. Worse still, the owners may have passed away; and family members are unable or unwilling to take on their animals.
Another common reason for surrender is separation and divorce. One or both partners can suddenly go from living in a secure household to looking for accommodation at very short notice - with children and pets in tow. Landlords are not often known for being pet-friendly. Large dogs and multiple pets can pose a particular problem for house hunters. Sometimes, there’s a happy ending for all; but sometimes it’s just not possible to work things out in the available time frame. It’s a brave decision to put your pet’s welfare ahead of your own attachment.
Housing issues are another frequent cause of pets being given up. A secure lease can become insecure after a change in landlord or the loss of a job. Anyone who has rented will know that pet-friendly rentals are increasingly rare. Of course, we would love to see more flexible options for pet accommodation, including rental properties and at shelters for the homeless and victims of domestic violence.
Children and babies can lead to pets being rehomed. While many dogs are great with children, and can be perfectly safe with supervised play time, one snap can be enough to create doubts. Not everyone has the resources to consult a behavioural expert to resolve the situation. Even with help, the family and dog may have lost confidence in one another.
Lastly, there can be situations where a pet is just not suited to its family and vice versa. This can be the case with newly adopted dogs. All dogs are individuals and they may have fears or quirks that need to be dealt with. Despite everyone’s best efforts, the pet may need to be taken out of the situation and rehomed in a more suitable environment for his or her needs. Factors can include incompatibility between the dog and family’s energy levels, work commitments, or housing arrangements. Together, these can lead to the dog and family both being unhappy.
Rehabilitation can be a complex issue. A dog can behave differently in the foster care environment compared to the adoptive family’s home. The challenges can sometimes turn out to be much greater than first thought. Responsible rescuers offer ongoing support to their adopters and strive to overcome challenges. It takes courage (from all sides) to admit that a placement is not working out and that a dog may be better placed with another family.
Dogs are adaptable to new situations. Naturally, there may be some distress early on as they adjust to their new environment. With the right family, and love and support, they will flourish.
Very few people give up their pets on a whim. The decision is reached after serious soul-searching and it is sometimes the only mature option. It is often a very distressing time for the owners who may feel that they have let their much-loved pets down.
The bottom line is that, sometimes, the decision to surrender a pet to a responsible organisation can be the most selfless and compassionate one.
As the saying goes – it’s impossible to judge others unless you have walked a mile in their shoes. One day, you may find yourself faced with a very difficult decision too.
It is best to approach this situation in a cooperative and understanding way. For example, it is extremely useful for a rescue organisation to be able to obtain a full and honest history of the pet they are rehoming, in order to set them up for success in their new home. This includes medical history and any behavioural issues that may need to be addressed. This knowledge gives the dog the best chance of being rehomed with the right family for their needs.
Dogs do adjust, they don’t hold grudges, they don’t judge, and they don’t look back. Pet rescuers are most effective when we have the same attitude.
Thank you for reading! Please share our blog, browse our website and check out Moving Paws Inc on Facebook and instagram
Regards, Debbie - Founder - Moving Paws Inc.