Discussion: Your Advice to Pet Owners in Need

Dog ##A099735 at the Cumberland Co pound in NC. (via PetHarbor)

This is advice, offered by a Binghamton, NY sanctuary worker, to people who can no longer provide care for a pet:

The S.P.E.A.K. Animal Hospital gets at least 15 to 20 calls a day regarding abandoned animals that need to find a new home.

“We are at capacity,” said Elise French of S.P.E.A.K. “There is a waiting list of probably 40 to 50 people waiting for us to take in any animals that they found.”

French says that If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t take good care of the pet anymore, don’t just let him or her run out the door.

“Find a home for the animal, get it into a shelter where they will find a home, but don’t just leave it.”

A shelter will always try their best to keep the animal safe, and find the pet a new home.

Now it’s your turn.  The reporter has contacted you for your advice to people who can’t properly care for their pets anymore.  Do you echo the sanctuary worker’s advice or say something different?

12 thoughts on “Discussion: Your Advice to Pet Owners in Need

  1. Honestly, I don’t even call the AC when I can’t capture a stray, because with a 68% kill rate, my local “shelter” obviously is not likely to “find the pet a new home.” But my local pound does at least take good care of the pets before they kill them and toss them in the dumpster.There are a lot of horrible pounds in NC where pets are kept in worse conditions than they would be running loose fending for themselves. I would tell the reporter that people’s pets are better off anywhere BUT the local “shelter” unless it’s a no kill shelter.

    There really isn’t a good “safety net” in most communities for families in crisis who can’t keep their pets. Rescues are so often full or have no funds, the pounds mostly kill pets keep them in horrible conditions, and the few funds that exist to help with vet care never have enough money to cover more than a fraction of the applicants. There are a few pet food pantries here and there, but they are not very well publicized, I think. I was going to say “the system is broken.” but there’s mostly no system at all.

  2. I would never suggest taking any animal to a kill shelter anywhere no matter how nice it is or how caring the people that work there seem to be. I am the director of a non profit rescue and this is my heartfelt advise. REALLY try to resolve the reason you are wanting to get rid of your pet. If it is a training issue get a trainer, read a few books and train your pet it is no more work than potty training a kid (I HAVE 6 kids also) both you and your pet will enjoy the time together. If it is a housing issue try hard to find a home that will take pets you find a home for your kids your pet is family also. If you really have tried and I mean really try and it does not work then the owner needs to try and find the pet a home. The owner will then see exactly how hard it is to rehome a pet. The owner can then vet the prospective new family himself and see if they are suitable. The excuse that they are too busy is not an excuse. If all else fails attempt to find a rescue somewhere to take your pet. But remember this the rescues are busy too and your pet is YOUR problem not the rescues. Also remember your pet knows you as family and is similar to a very young toddler in behavior. As much as our babies aggravate us we work thru their behavior and the same can be done with your pet. Dumping your pet in a shelter is a DEATH sentence plan and simple dumping your pet on a rescue is not much better. You are sentencing your pet to a life of minimal attention, possible disease, and a kennel. And I run a rescue. I have watched the dogs watch you walk away and it has broken my heart time and again. They love you like your 18 month old loves you totally and completely you are their world. How would you like to watch your world walk away and not know why? Your pets deserve your time to make them the pet you dream of that is all it takes TIME! Give them that much and you will never regret it.

  3. We all can come in to a situation where we might not be able anymore to care for our animals. Death and illness can come to any house. Family and friends is the first place to ask for help, after that I would try to place the animal in another home. If that doesn’t work I would try a Rescue and as last resort a animal shelter.

  4. For people who can’t keep their pets anymore: obviously the BEST solution is to act before things get to crisis mode. Give yourself time to find a home or rescue that can take your pet. But I know that just isn’t human nature – if a job loss or foreclosure or move or impending death in the family are looming, we all tend to stick our heads in the sand and just hope it doesn’t happen.
    And Lisa B is right – there isn’t a good support system in place. Ideally, that is where Animal Control could help – identify families in need, and hook them up with pet food pantries or low cost training, whatever it takes to try to keep the pet in the family. But our “system” is to punish people who aren’t taking so-called ideal care of their pets, take the pets away and usually kill them.

  5. Wow the picture of the dog on this thread looks just like my little “Stretch” who was dumped and almost starved to death.Only 7 lbs when found and brought into Animal Control he is now 16lbs healthy happy and incredibly sweet and loving -a true treasure. I vol at the county Animal Control which is a kill shelter because there is such a need to enrich these dogs’ lives while they are in the shelter. I also foster, network with rescues, pay medical expenses, take dogs to meet n greets, disseminate photos etc. Adoptions have greatly increased but many adoptable dogs are killed by lethal injection which breaks my heart. The local “no kill” shelter never takes any dogs in as they hardly ever adopt out hence are always ” full”. nobody can meet their standards for adoption such as cannot have young kids, work FT outside the home, use a crate, and must have a fenced yard. The people who drop their dogs off at AC seem to have just rationalize their choice to abandon their dog to probable death. They blithly and naively hope their dog will be adopted or they just don’t care. Problems cited are running away, breaking out of pen, marking, owner moving, dog keeps getting pregnant etc and in most case the owner has done nothing to try and solve the problem which is actually always the owners fault. These people don”t even consider how bewildered, broken hearted, and scared their dog is when put into a strange kennel surruonded by barking dogs. I don’t think there is hope for these type owners as they have no hearts or respect for dogs are living souls. They just discard their pets when the novelty wears off. However if there are people who are willing to try to keep their pets then I feel help should be given in terms of education and support. This AC will keep pets for people who are temporarily in jail or ill. They also have a food bank and low cost spay /neuter clinic. I want to start a hotline and free education/training sessions for adopters. What I would tell someone who is planning to take a dog to AC is STOP and THINK. Problems can be solved if you want to. Here are some ideas and resources for alternative actions. This is a life and life is preciuos. Where there is life there is hope.

  6. What I tell people first and foremost is to slow down and think it through. Our attachments to animals are emotional so that means when we feel like we’re backed against a wall, we often don’t think clearly. We tend to react rather than develop a plan.

    I tell people to take a good look at why they think they can no longer keep the pet and look at possible alternatives to surrendering the animal. If the situation is financial, it could be resolved with the help of a pet food bank, a pet financial resource or even through a temporary foster with a family or friend. If the problem is behavioral, it could be resolved through a trip to the vet to determine if there’s an underlying medical condition or a visit with a behaviorist.

    I could go on but in the end, I tell people to take a step back,re-assess and not do anything rash. There are web sites galore with lots of information like Wonderpuppy and like those which list financial resources. I’d like to think people who are sick or physically struggling will develop a plan for their pets in the event of disaster (as we did with my parents) but if that does’t happen, I do hope a family member or friend will step up and help. There is nothing more sad than knowing an animal is already confused by the loss of his or her human, only to be further confused by being passed around or, Heaven forbid, taken to a shelter. I am forever telling people to make plans for their animals as they surely make plans for the care of their children were something to happen to them.

  7. One of the members of itchmo forums (came into existence because of the toxic pet food in 2006 – present) has compiled a list, by state, of pet food/vet support for people in need. Also our local humane society helps with food, behavior training, low cost spay/neuter, etc to try and help people keep their pets. I would try everything possible before surrendering them to a kill facility. Prevention, when possible, is the best way to avoid having to deal with this issue, too.


  8. I would recommend the pet food bank and a low cost vet for vaccines, spay/neuter, etc. I think rescues and shelters should make a list of all the services available to pet owners as I doubt most owners know about them.

  9. Well I dont believe in leaving your pet behind; yeah they may survive as a stray, with someone picking them up, but they may not. Plus there is the additional worry of an ACO picking them up and taking them straight to the shelter anyway. But having said that, I also wouldnt be gung-ho on telling the owners about taking their pet to a shelter either. In an ideal world we should be able to tell them to take them to a shelter where they actually, you know, shelter the dog, but not in today’s world. I guess I would tell them to exhaust all other options first; friends/family, rescues, etc. Then after that, I really don’t know.

  10. It’s a little frustrating to me when I have to offer advice to people on this issue, because I’ve been there and seen how hard it can be. I had a small suspected pit mix dog that I could not keep. I had a set amount of time to find her a new home. I “advertised” all over Facebook and Twitter, and called every single pit and non breed specific rescue in the metroplex. I would have driven a good distance to place her in a rescue. Every single one said they were full. Everyone shared my posts but no one could take her. I interviewed people from Craigslist and the people I felt were interested in a pet never followed through, so I guess I was not a good judge of character there.

    I eventually had to take her back to the shelter I had gotten her from. Fortunately they are no-kill. (I have to add, as much as I like this shelter they were a bit rude to me until it was time to actually take her and I broke down sobbing, then they suddenly remembered it’s not all horrible people who have to return dogs, sometimes life happens).

    They found her a new home in 3 days, and one of the nice people at the shelter told the new owners to take her to the store I worked at, and I got to see her with her new family, which is another story in itself.

    So, what do I tell my friends who need to rehome more “popular” breed dogs like chihuahuas and can’t seem to find them a home?

    I truly believe in no kill, and I tell everyone who needs to, go to THESE shelters, not these others, but I tell them to go to that no kill shelter rather than using Craigslist, Facebook, etc. If it’s not a puppy, you’re better off taking it to the no kill shelter. (The time I had a 5 week old puppy that someone just left at the store and I couldn’t keep, he got a home in 2 days from someone who already had that breed of dog)

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