It’s a sensitive topic among animal lovers, and rightfully so. Millions of animals of all kinds end up abandoned on the streets, in shelters and in other terrible situations due to pet owners who can no longer keep or care for them. We wish it would never happen, that every pet be it dog, cat, bird, ferret, snake or any other live a long, happy and cared for life with plenty of love, food, water and shelter. Pets are in our world due to no fault of their own, and they’re often put into homeless situations without warning or any way to help themselves. Animals also form close bonds to their human “families” and experience emotional pain, distress and depression when their family abandons them.
There are many (many!) resources to help those who are in need of help caring for their pet today, including many that can help you keep your pet even if you’re facing adversity or struggle. If you’re having a hard time caring for or meeting your pets needs, or if you can no longer keep your pet due to unforeseen circumstances you cannot change, these tips can help:
- Consider all of the options you have before making a decision. If it’s a matter of not being able to afford food or vet care, look first for options and help. Many local rescue organizations will gladly help with food and other care if you are willing/able to keep your pet. Even if you reach out to one or two, they can likely point you toward additional resources if you are not able to locate any yourself. Before you make any decisions with your pet, consider all options. Struggle doesn’t always mean you have to get rid of your pet!
- Explore fostering, boarding or other temporary home options. Many times it is assumed that life or other issues mean you have to get rid of your pet entirely. It isn’t true! A lot of local organizations and rescues are willing to help with temporary home options for animals who may have humans in need. Again, even reaching out to a few organizations to start can help you gain access to other resources. Let people know that you are open to temporary home options.
- Look outside of your immediate area. Dozens of animal rescue organizations operate without borders. If you can’t find local resources that can help with providing care, food or other means to your pet, or assist with temporary housing or even rehoming, look to other parts of the country. There are often organizations that have the ability and relationships to arrange for transporting pets to safety and care despite geographical location.
- Consider and choose shelters very carefully. If you absolutely must remove your pet from your home, consider shelter options very carefully. A lot of people just dump their pet at the local animal shelter, assuming that it will be able to fend for itself and the shelter will find it a place to live. Or worse, that the shelter will provide lifelong care. It is not always the case! Do not surrender your pet at a shelter that euthanizes! Its chances of being put to death can be greater than being adopted. If there are no “no-kill” shelters or rescues in your area, go outside of your area as many will arrange to transport your animal to them.
- Let your vet know you’re having issues. Speak with your veterinarian about any issues with meeting your pet’s care needs financially, or if you have to find it a new home. Many veterinarians are willing to donate or discount care, and some will help place an animal in a new home to help avoid it being abandoned or dumped at a shelter.
- Ask family and friends for help. If you think your family or friends can help with your pet’s care or assist in helping you in any way, let them know you need help. Though you want to be very careful ANY time you re-home your pet, or put it in other people’s care. Many who thought friends or family were caring for pets later learned the animal was neglected, abused or abandoned. Never place your pet with anyone who you are not sure will provide its absolute best care, even if it is temporarily, and make sure to stay in close touch with them ongoing to check up on your pet. When you can, assist with its care. If a friend or family member is willing to take your pet, ask a local rescue organization or no kill shelter to do a home visitation and check in to ensure the individual can care for your pet, is allowed to have pets, etc.
- NEVER list your pet on websites, social networks, or other resources. Dozens of horrific animal abuse and torture cases even this past year alone involved animals that were given away for free on websites, social networks and other resources. Even if you charge a fee, many animal abusers and torturers scour these sites for animals to harm. Second to this, many animal test laboratories rely on free give away animals for research animal testing, and there are many, many instances that dog fighting organizations utilize free give away animals for everything from fighting to use as bait to train dogs for dog fighting. You can not assure a safe, loving home through these resources.
- Rely on shelters and rescues in other ways. No matter what, do not give up! Some rescues and shelters will help with pet deposit fees, assist with finding apartments that have breed restrictions, provide food, microchipping, grooming and other care, and more. Do not assume that just because you can’t temporarily care for your pet that you’ll always be in that situation, or that there isn’t help until you can.
- Look into animal-friendly community resources. A lot of homeless shelters, nursing homes, abuse resources and other community services are now becoming more animal-friendly, working to keep pets with their families in severe situations such as domestic violence, aging or loss of work/home. If you aren’t able to find any locally, again look beyond your immediate region. Even if a shelter can’t arrange for transportation for you and your pet, many local rescue organizations may be willing to help.
- Use technology. While you should never list an animal on Facebook, Twitter, Craig’s List, etc. to find it a home, you can use the web to locate rescue organizations and other resources, including local low cost or free spay/neuter clinics, microchipping, vaccinations and other care. One of the reasons we created Kuddly was to give pets and pet owners everywhere better access to care, any time and anywhere. You can connect with a qualified, verified veterinarian about pet care needs for as little as $2.00, and may be able to get referrals to resources for help with other needs regarding your pet in the event you can not care for it or continue to provide it a home.
- NEVER dump your pet on the street or outside of shelters, police stations, etc. Some pet owners believe that because their pets are animals, they will naturally be able to adapt — or even enjoy — being released outdoors. But very few domestic animals of any kind have the kind of skills to do so, including finding food, defending themselves in situations of danger, navigating the outdoors, or finding safety and shelter. This includes in remote and nature areas, not just in cities and towns. Additionally, many tie their pets up or place them in crates or boxes outside of police stations, animal shelters or other establishments assuming the animal will be fine. However, animals can be affected or harmed by weather conditions, starve to death if not seen immediately, and be vulnerable to other issues while they wait for the organizations to find them. Take the extra step to bring your pet directly in to someone that can help.
- Consider your pet. Most of all, know that your pet loves you very much, and is dependent and relying on you to help it any way you can. Just dropping it off at a shelter and going on with your life might be easiest for you, but it can be devastating, lead to injury through the wrong re-homing, or even death via euthanasia more than not. Abandon animals often become very depressed, yearn for and cry for their families, and struggle with adjusting to life without them. Your pet deserves your care and consideration in every choice you make for it.
Regardless of what you choose, you have options and you can make choices that can ensure your pet’s safety and care. If you suspect or are concerned about your ability to keep your pet, take action right away to find resources and options. Never just abandon or dump your animal.
While many people do not abandon their animals by choice, there are some who do so due to new babies, moving, not having time to provide care and a variety of other reasons that are of no fault to the animal itself. If you’re not 100% sure that you can provide lifelong care to a pet, do not adopt one. You can enjoy spending time with pets by volunteering at local rescue organizations and shelters instead, and ensure animals everywhere are safe, loved and cared for.