Research shows that as many as 130,000 dogs end up at dog shelters every year in the UK , and sadly, the Covid-19 pandemic has only contributed to the growing dog abandonment crisis. But why do people abandon their dogs in the first place?
Dog abandonment is largely down to a lack of planning, and that’s why it’s so important for potential dog owners to think ahead and research a dog’s specific needs before they give a pup a home. If you’re thinking about getting a dog, check out our dedicated guide to ‘Getting Dog Care Right’ for all the essential information you need to know.
Surrendering a dog to a shelter or leaving it to fend for itself is a devastating decision for both pet and owner, and yet this sad situation can be easily avoided.
At DoggyLottery, we’re hoping to raise awareness of this issue and prevent more of our beloved furry friends being abandoned in the future.
Here are the most common reasons why pet dogs are abandoned, and how you, as an owner, can avoid this outcome:
The dog has behavioural issues
When surrendering their dog to a shelter, the majority of owners cite behavioural issues as the reason they are leaving their pet.
Biting, aggression, destructive tendencies, accidents, whining, barking… these are all behavioural issues that could lead an owner to abandon their dog. Yet, most of this behaviour can largely be avoided or even corrected with the right help.
A dog that is well looked after, with an owner who provides for all of its needs, is much more likely to display calm behaviour. Dogs also need to be trained, preferably from a young age, and good training can avoid many of the behavioural issues listed above.
Nowadays there is so much help available from group classes to private dog training classes and dog behaviour experts. Makes sure to do your research and find professional help focused on the type of problem your pet has. Doing your research and getting the right help for your dog is essential.
The owner is sick or has passed away
If a dog owner becomes too sick to care for their dog or they sadly pass away, without a sufficient plan in place, a dog could be left to fend for itself.
Dogs simply adore their owners, and it can be incredibly distressing for them if their beloved human is no longer around. Older dogs particularly may find it difficult to adjust to life with a new home and owner.
Older pet owners, or those who are suffering from chronic or life-limiting illnesses, should have a detailed plan in place for who will take care of their pet if they can no longer do so.
When planning, consider all the things your dog needs ‒ enough room, a safe environment, social time, a suitable diet and medical attention. If you have chosen to leave your dog with a friend, family member or neighbour, can that person sufficiently provide for your dog?
The owner has moved away
Another common reason why dog owners surrender or abandon their canine creatures is because they have chosen to move away, perhaps even to another country.
Abandonment can be very traumatic for a dog. Remember, never consider a dog as a temporary possession. If you are considering bringing a dog into your life, you should be fully committed to it.
However, we do understand that, sometimes, it’s simply not possible to plan ahead. A change in circumstances could lead a dog owner to move somewhere that is unsuitable for their dog, leaving no other choice but to give it up. For instance, they might be moving to a smaller house or a rental property that doesn’t allow pets.
As a dog owner, you should try to plan ahead as much as possible, and, if you are renting, bear in mind that most landlords do not allow tenants to keep pets.
The dog has become old or sick
Dogs age and can develop illnesses, just like humans. When you become a dog owner, you should commit yourself to giving your dog a loving and comfortable home for life, no matter what lies ahead.
Sadly, some dog owners become unwilling or unable to cope with their dog when it becomes old or sick. Poorly pets are time-consuming because they need a lot of love and attention. They can also be much more expensive ‒ after all, pet insurance and vet bills aren’t cheap.
Some people simply become bored of their dog when it gets older. Puppies and young dogs are a bundle of laughs; they’re energetic, playful and very entertaining. Older dogs like to snooze in their favourite comfy spot, and they might be less than enthusiastic when you take them for a walk or throw a ball.
Ageing and illness is a fact of life for all dogs, but this shouldn’t stop you loving and caring for it. Time, patience and dedication ‒ these things are all part of the commitment you make when you choose to bring a dog into your life.
The owner has a baby
Just like pets, new babies need a lot of time and attention. Unfortunately, some owners simply can’t cope with having both a dog and a baby to look after at the same time, and this is a common cause of dog abandonment.
If you’re a dog owner and you are considering having a baby, carefully consider the impact this will have on your furry friend. Likewise, if you have a baby and are considering getting a dog, you should assess your ability to commit.
You might have enough love to go around, but will you have enough time and energy?
The dog has babies of its own
When a dog becomes unexpectedly pregnant, this can be very overwhelming for the owner. Caring for and accommodating a litter of puppies is a bit different from looking after one dog.
Unwanted puppies are a leading cause of dog abandonment, so we would advise that owners seriously consider having their pet dog neutered.
Dog shelters need your help!
Dog shelters help to rebuild a dog’s life when it has been surrendered or abandoned. They first help the dog get back to full health, then they help it to find a new forever home, all the while showing it all the love, care and attention it deserves.
But while these incredible dog shelters are doing their very best, they need your help.
By entering DoggyLottery’s weekly draw for just £1.50, you can give dog shelters the support they need to care for and rehome the nation’s abandoned dogs. Not only could you be in with a chance of winning a fantastic cash prize, but you’ll also be supporting dogs in need!
Hollie Kingsland, Official Freelancer for DoggyLottery