Home > Dog Training, Pet Adoption, Pet Topics > Dear Pet Owner: Can you Handle the Truth?

Dear Pet Owner: Can you Handle the Truth?


Recently, I read a book review written on Amazon.com about Randy Grimm’s book, Don’t Dump the Dog: Outrageous Stories and Simple Solutions to Your Worst Dog Behavior Problems (it’s the first review listed, written by Charlie S from Wag’N Book Review).

In case you’ve never heard of Randy Grimm, Randy is a famous animal advocate and animal rescuer from St Louis, Missouri. He runs Stray Rescue of St Louis, where he has been actively involved in saving the lost, abandoned and stray dogs that roam the streets of St Louis. Quite a man in my opinion. But, that’s not what caught my eye, it was the reviewer’s description of a section of Chapter 1 of Randy’s book,

“An owner contacts Randy wanting to relinquish his dog because of (a) hyper-activity issue. The owner comes by the shelter on a day where Randy is alone at the shelter, clearly overwhelmed by work, and (Randy) asks the pet owner to answer the phone while he brings the “abandoned pet” to its new home – (A) cage. While there, the owner takes many dramatic calls covering a few ‘real emergencies’. When the owner gets a break, he drops the phone, runs back, frees his dog, gets another dog and runs out of the facility. The owner realized that the issue he deemed terrible was nothing compared to the realities shelters have to deal with. He later sent money to the shelter to thank them of the invaluable knowledge he acquired that day.”

Pets are often surrendered for legitimate reasons, especially now, with many people losing their homes. But, just as often people surrender their pet simply because they didn’t take the time to train their dog, do their homework before getting their pet or made a hasty decision to get a pet because it was “so cute”.

It got me to thinking… would pet parents be less likely to surrender their pets for a frivolous reason, or at the very least, would they think twice before surrendering their pet if they knew the truth about what could happen to their pet?

For instance…

– A surrendered pet may go home with someone that will not treat him as well as the previous owner did. There is no way to know which adoptive pet parents will be good ones unless you do a home visit, and most shelters can barely afford to stay open so that is usually not an option. It’s a sad commentary on how we humans treat our pets when a dog or cat comes back to the shelter in worse condition than when they left.
– An overcrowded shelter means that a pet could be euthanized, especially if the pet is old, sick, has behavioral issues, or just plain runs out of time. According to the Humane Society of the United States and The Shelter Pet Project, approximately three million (3,000,000) healthy and treatable pets are euthanized every year because they don’t get adopted.
– Sometimes a sick pet (e.g., Parvo virus) is surrendered to a shelter and infects all the other pets in the shelter. Someone’s pet could die before it reaches the adoption floor, unless it’s vaccinations were kept up-to-date.
– Many shelter environments are loud. The noise level can be enough to damage human ears and it can drive a dog nuts. Literally. It’s called going “kennel crazy”.
– Just because a dog lived inside it’s last owner’s home doesn’t mean that will be the case when he is adopted. Chances are that he could be tied up outside.
– Training and socializing a pet is important. It makes them more adoptable.
– Adopting a dog or cat saves a life. Buying from a backyard breeder or puppy mill ensures that one less dog or cat will find a loving home.

I don’t want anyone to think I am disparaging animal shelters. Let’s be honest, without them and other rescue organizations, many more animals would be roaming the streets and suffering at the hands of an abuser.

The people who work in shelters are some of the most dedicated, hard-working and loving people I know. And, most of the people who adopt from an animal shelter are great people. I’ve seen and heard some really great, heart-warming stories about dogs and cats that have found their forever homes and are loved completely by their new families.

But, the reality is there is no guarantee that your pet will find a loving home. When you decided to get a pet, you took on the responsibility for that pet. Don’t you owe it to him to make sure that you’ve tried everything before you give him up?

  1. May 5, 2010 at 8:17 PM

    Love this post. Most people want the easy way. We’re conditioned to/for instant gratification. Nothing is made to be repaired. If it doesn’t work, just throw it out. This mindset doesn’t work for pets (or kids).

  2. Mel
    May 5, 2010 at 8:33 PM

    Thanks Rod! I completely agree. I think many people get a pet with good intentions, but when it gets hard, they give up. A pet is not a purse (neither are children) that can be discarded when you no longer want it. I hope this post makes people stop and think before giving up. Thanks for your comment!

  3. May 12, 2010 at 8:22 PM

    The myth of the ‘farm in the country’ is alive and well. Humans seem to prefer to be unrealistically hopeful as opposed to starkly realistic, especially if it means dealing with distasteful activities (putting a dog down, managing & training a dog). Heard recently of a woman who relinquished her dog to a hoarder rather than put it down (aggressive, unadoptable). The fact that the dog would likely live a life of pain & suffering was not enough to motivate her to consider options which might have involved enduring some of that herself. Her options were indeed limited and her choice was to maintain a fantasy rather than consider what her dog’s reality was going to become.

    • Mel
      May 13, 2010 at 4:34 AM

      Thanks for your comment Fearful Dogs. That is exactly why I wrote this post. I think people would rather believe the fantasy than the truth. People need to know the real truth and decide if it’s one they can live with.

  4. May 12, 2010 at 10:05 PM

    Nothing is sadder than an animal waiting and waiting to be saved and sometimes, it never comes.

    • Mel
      May 13, 2010 at 4:30 AM

      I so agree Kim. Sadly, I’ve seen it too often. I honor the shelter volunteers who work with these wonderful pets day in and day out.

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