When you choose to get a dog, you must choose to become a responsible dog owner. Unfortunately, not all dog owners act responsibly, abandoning their dogs when they become inconvenient. The most irresponsible of dog owners will leave them to fend for themselves in a vacant home or chained in a yard. This is tragic and unacceptable.Sometimes life gets rough and we have to make serious choices. In some cases, that means giving up a beloved pet. However, there are many ways to avoid this. Here are some examples.
I’m moving and my new place does not allow dogs.Don’t move there. Anyone who has tried to rent an apartment with a dog knows it is not easy. Be diligent and chances are, in time you will find the right place. Try to negotiate the conditions with potential landlords, and be willing to spend extra money. If you absolutely must move right away and cannot find a place that allows your dog, talk to friends and family - someone you know might be willing to take care of your dog for an extended period of time while you search for other arrangements. The same applies if your move is temporary and dogs are truly not allowed.
My dog has health or behavioral issues that are out of control.
Health problems will happen from time to time in people and pets. If your dog has a chronic illness, it is your duty to help manage it. If current therapy is not working, ask for a referral to a specialist or get a second opinion. Tell your vets that you are at the end of your rope and you need help.
With regards to behavior problems: have you heard the expression “there are no bad dogs, only misinformed owners?” This is generally true. Our dogs act the way we train them to act, so a behavior problem is YOUR responsibility. Hire a trainer or visit a behaviorist. If you cannot afford this, learn about dog training on your own. Talk to anyone who will listen – you may find someone else who has experienced the same problem.
I am having a baby and don't have time for a dog now.Dogs and kids can actually be a great combination if handled correctly. It is essential that your dog is properly trained and exposed to babies and children before your baby is born. Then, be certain to introduce the baby to the dog appropriately. Plus, you must raise your children to respect dogs! Make sure you include your dog in as many family events, outings and gatherings as possible. If your dog knows his place in the pack - and that includes knowing the children are higher-ranking - you can have a safer, more peaceful family unit. Growing up with dogs is one of the best gifts you can give a child, if done right.
I simply cannot afford my dog anymore.Learn the cost of dog ownership. Make a budget that includes your dog’s necessary expenses to determine if this is truly the case. You may find than you can afford your dog after all. To lower long-term expenses, keep your dog healthy. A nutritious diet, regular exercise and preventive veterinary care all play a major role in keeping future costs down. Here are some money-saving tips:
- Visit low-cost clinics for routine vaccinations. Contact the Humane Society or your local animal shelter. Or, ask your local pet supply store for information.
- Resist the urge to buy extras such as a new collar, dog bed, or bag of treats. Make your own dog bed or ask a friend for help. Learn to make dog supplies instead of buying them. You can also offer your dog carrots or apples as snacks, or make homemade treats.
- DO NOT stop giving heartworm and flea prevention! Instead, shop around for discounts (but make sure the products are legitimate – ask your vet before you buy).
- DO NOT feed generic/economy dog food to save money. Low-quality diets can cause poor health in the long run. If you cannot budget for premium dog food or a holistic/natural diet, consider a homemade diet.
I have an illness or other physical limitation and can no longer care for my dog.
This is probably the most understandable reason to give up your dog, but there may be other options. Turn to your family and friends for help. Your dog will most likely be a comfort to you during your illness, so it will be beneficial to keep him around. Some cities and towns have outreach programs where volunteers come and care for the pets of sick owners. Contact local animal rescue groups for suggestions.
If you are the caregiver of a dog owner who must enter a nursing home or similar facility, consider keeping the dog yourself or placing the dog with friends or family.
I have exhausted all of my options and I really cannot keep my dog.It will not be easy, but sometimes the only option is to give up your dog. Be sure that you have truly explored all avenues. Millions of dogs are euthanized each year because of overcrowding in shelters, so try not to contribute to that number. Abandonment is NEVER acceptable. You are responsible for finding the best home possible for your dog.
- Write up a brief fact sheet about your dog covering details like age, breed, size, color, health, temperament and personality. Be honest about your dog – especially regarding behavior.
- Tell all of your friends, family members, neighbors, co-workers and acquaintances that you are looking for a new home for your dog. Explain your situation and the fact that you want to find a great home for your dog. Make sure you check out potential new owners well so your dog does not end up needing a home again.
- If you cannot place your dog in a forever home yourself, contact animal rescue groups and “no-kill” animal shelters in your area. If your dog is purebred or mixed with a specific, obvious breed, try a breed-specific rescue group.
- Tell your veterinarian and staff about your situation, they may be able to help. However, do not drop your dog off for services and fail to come back and pick him up. Never leave your dog on the doorstep of a veterinary office. These are seriously irresponsible acts and are unfair to your dog!
- Please, please do not euthanize your dog if you cannot find him a home.