There are so many homeless pets because unfortunately, many people do not think about the long term commitment, financial responsibility, moral responsibility (i.e. spay/neuter, heartworm prevention) and work involved when they bring a pet into their home. The decision to add a pet to your family is a serious 10-15 year commitment and should not be taken lightly.
In addition, we have an overwhelming pet overpopulation problem in the United States. Each year approximately 8 million healthy dogs and cats are killed simply because there aren’t enough homes for all of them. This is due to individual pet guardians not spaying/neutering their pets (accidental breedings), individual pet guardians breeding their pets on purpose and thinking it is OK because (1)they have a “purebred” (2) because they think that their pet should experience motherhood or (3) because they think that they have such an exceptional pet and also because of puppymillers and irresponsible breeders.
For example, here in the metropolitan Atlanta area alone, there are hundreds of dog and cat rescue groups and yet last year over 104,000 dogs and cats were killed in Atlanta area shelters. Pet Orphans Rescue and Adoptions animals come from a wide variety of sources including animal shelters who were about to destroy them, direct guardian give-ups who were about to turn them in to the shelters and strays who’s homes could not be found.
The top reasons we get pets at shelters are:
1. Strays – This is caused by guardians who let their pets roam, who don’t spay/neuter them so they look for opposite sex companionship, guardians who abandon their animals or never bother looking for them once they are gone and by guardians who don’t keep ID tags on their animals at all times (regardless of if the dog is an inside only dog or if the dog has never before gotten out of the yard.)
2. Moving – We can’t tell you how many times a day we hear this one! Guardians moving to other cities who don’t want to pay to transport their pets, guardians moving into an apartment that won’t take pets, guardians that don’t want to pay a pet deposit, guardians moving into a new house and don’t want their pets to dirty it, etc. This is by far the number one reason why guardians dump their pets! Pets are not junk that you throw away when you move, pets should be family members that are taken with every time the family changes its residence! If this doesn’t work for you then don’t get a pet in the first place.
3. Having a baby – Why is it that so many people no longer want to keep their dog (that they formerly treated as a baby), when they have a human baby of their own? We find that people dump their formerly beloved family pets due to no fault of the pets simply because they have a baby. Often they tell us that the dog is wonderful with the new baby but that they simply don’t have time for it anymore. Or they tell us that their dog isn’t good with a baby and we find that they have selected a dog breed that is well known to be terrible with babies and toddlers. If they had done simple research prior to getting a certain dog breed and if they had exposed their dog often to small children, they probably wouldn’t have had this problem. Also, we find that some dogs don’t do well with babies because the families dump the dogs into a permanent backyard existence or an ignored existence once they have a baby. We recommend that people have their family first and then adopt a pet. If that isn’t possible, pick a breed or mix that is known to be good with children and socialize to children often. A good book to read is “Childproofing Your Dog” by Brian Kilcommons.
4. Don’t have time for – The same people who were so enthusiastic about their new puppies or dogs when they first got them often consider them a burden once they realize that they are a living being that have certain needs that can not be ignored. They are not a toy that they can put away when they feel like it. These people call us and say “I’m traveling more now”, “I’m working more now”, “I’m going out alot now”, “I’m not home enough and the dog isn’t getting the attention it deserves” or “I feel guilty but don’t have time for the dog”. Don’t get a dog unless you can make a 10-15 year commitment to its care.
5. Puppy has grown up – “The puppy has gotten too big”, “We wanted a small dog”, “It’s not cute anymore”, “It’s gotten too big for inside the house/apartment”, “Now that its 9 months old it’s acting too wild”, “It’s too rough for my kids” or “It’s too hyper”. Be very careful when you adopt a puppy that you are prepared to handle the dog when it reaches adult size. Don’t just look at the tiny puppy and think how cute it is. Look at an adult of comparable adult size and make an intelligent decision. Keep in mind that puppies need lots of training and exercise in order for them to become a well behaved pet. When you get a puppy, sign up for a good puppy obedience class and practice often. Also, keep in mind that most puppies and dogs will not exercise themselves…you need to exercise them by providing long walks, ball throwing, etc. Remember that the large breed puppy may play rough and may be too active for your small children. Keep in mind that puppies are a lot of work and that there are hundreds of thousands of well behaved adult dogs being killed at our shelters every day that might be a better choice for your family’s pet.
6. Behavioral problems – “Dog barks too much”, “Dog chews everything up”, “Can’t get it housebroken”, “Too hyper”, “Dog jumps on us”, “Dog digs up garden”, “Dog runs away or jumps fence”, or “Dog is aggressive to strangers or other dogs”. Dogs who are raised as outside only pets are usually unhappy and bored and will develop many of these problems, don’t get a dog unless you will keep it mainly as a housepet. Puppies can’t get housebroken unless someone is home during the day or can come home from work often enough in order to let it outside. Dogs who are not obedience trained will often act hyper and wild. Dogs who are not socialized to strangers and other dogs when they are young will often act aggressive to them when they grow up. Dogs that are not spayed/neutered will often escape from the fenced yard in order to find a mate. If you don’t want chewing, then don’t get a dog under the age of 3 years. Puppies and young adult dogs naturally will chew, chew, chew. If you have this problem now, confine your dog to a “dog proofed” room with plenty of chew toys when you’re not watching it. Make sure that you have the time and money to spend with a puppy or adult dog and that you will allow to stay mainly inside your home before you consider adopting a pet.
7. Children have lost interest – Loving parents often adopt a pet for their children with the understanding that the children must take full responsibility for its care. We have found that children lose interest in caring for their pets within a very short period of time and it then becomes a battle between the parents and children. Please don’t adopt a pet unless you, the parent, want the pet as much as your children do. Children can not handle the responsibility of housebreaking a puppy, obedience training, exercising, feeding, brushing, health care, etc, so don’t let their begging influence you. YOU will be the one responsible for this pet.
8. Elderly guardians – We get many calls from the children of elderly people who pass away or have to go into a nursing facility. They have made no prior arrangements for who is going to take care of their beloved pets. Please make arrangements in your wills for who will get your animals if something happens to you. If you are a senior citizen and are thinking about adopting a puppy or dog, please add 15 years to your current age to determine how old you will be when the dog reaches the end of its lifespan. If you think you will be too old to care for it, then consider adopting one of the many wonderful, already housebroken older dogs for your home.
P. O. Box 720422
Atlanta, GA 30358