Why Animals End Up at Shelters
I'm happy to report that overall, people seem to be getting better-educated about the amazing animals that exist in our country's shelters and rescue groups. However, myths about shelter animals still exist. And the fears elicited by these myths only deter otherwise well-meaning people from finding their new best friend through adoption.
So I'm calling on all of you animal lovers out there to help me dispel these destructive myths! Are you in?
First of all, it may be helpful for people to understand that most animals wind up at shelters through no fault of their own. According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy, moving is the primary reason family pets are relinquished. And landlords that don't allow pets are one of the biggest obstacles for renters with companion animals. (Big kudos to any landlords out there who accommodate our furry family members: Research actually shows that this makes good business sense, too -- but that's a topic for another post!) Similarly, shelter personnel report that many companion animals are relinquished because an owner has died or is relocating to a senior facility that prohibits pets.
Other reasons topping the list include the cost of regular pet care, a lack of time, and allergies. Additionally, animals given as gifts (bad idea!) often end up at the shelter either because recipients are unable to keep them or the animals grew up and no one planned for them getting bigger. And it is a sad fact that litters born to unaltered animals often wind up in shelters en masse -- all the more reason to adopt from the shelter, as they typically come already altered!
Finally, one of the most avoidable reasons that loyal family pets find themselves at the shelter is because they got lost and did not have a micro-chip or tag to facilitate a reunion with their family. I cannot overstate the importance of having both a tag and a micro-chip! So many well-meaning people proudly declare that their companion animals don't need to have identification because they never leave their side. But unforeseen events can happen: Gardeners can leave gates unlatched by mistake, a fire engine can spook a pet to run, natural disasters can strike with little notice, car accidents can send a frightened pet running, and tragically, animals are even stolen at times. You get the point.
Needless to say, these perfectly adoptable animals are ending up at shelters through no fault of their own! So it's up to us to help them get into loving homes and to take the necessary steps to keep them from entering the shelter in the first place. Next week we'll look at the myths that exist about shelter animals THEMSELVES and together we can begin to debunk them one by one!
So I'll ask you once again... are you in?
Dr. Pia Salk