As an animal lover who is involved in the local shelter/rescue community, I of course see a lot of stuff related to these interests on social media. Something I’ve been seeing crop up way too much lately is making those who give up their pets feel like guilty, heartless people. It doesn’t matter what the reason was, you are a monster if you abandon your sweet, precious, angel furbaby. This mindset needs to stop.
As an animal shelter employee, I get to hear all sorts of reasons people give up their pets. A very common one is because the owners are moving. Many of us wouldn’t dream of moving to a place that didn’t allow our pets, or we can’t fathom people who are just too lazy/uncaring to bring their pets with them on a long trip.
Do you know how difficult it was for me to find an affordable apartment that would allow my 60lb dog that wasn’t even one of the “dangerous” breeds? I couldn’t find a place. I had to remain living with my friend and his parents (and to them I am eternally grateful). I have since found an affordable, pet-friendly place, but it’s one that is NOT easy to come by (though my dog had since passed away). The only reason I snagged it is because of social connections. That dog was my world and moving without him wasn’t an option, but having him severely limited my housing options. I didn’t make a lot of money, but I made enough to comfortably care for the two of us. Now that I’m paying rent it would have been difficult to do this (I’m having a hard enough time affording care for myself, frankly). It’s a lot more difficult than “well don’t move to a place that doesn’t allow pets” or “well then buy your own home.” Some of us can’t afford that luxury. Sometimes things change and money gets tight. Not everyone who gives up their pet because they’re moving are heartless – sometimes they just don’t have any other choice. I’ve seen my share of people bawling their eyes out at the shelter when giving up their pet because they don’t want to, but they’re out of options. Maybe they don’t have any friends or family able to watch their pet until they get back on their feet. You don’t know. So don’t assume.
I don’t even want to imagine how difficult it is for people with multiple pets, really large dogs (so many places had a 25lb weight limit), or people with “dangerous” breeds.
I could go through and hash out all the other common reasons pets are surrendered or where they choose to surrender them to, but that’s tedious and I would just end up reiterating “things are not always that simple, don’t make assumptions about their life” every time. Even dedicated, knowledgeable, devoted dog owners may run into circumstances that force them to give up their beloved pet. Chances are they feel awful enough surrendering their pet. Making them feel guilty and horrible achieves nothing other than convincing them that all rescue people are horrible, crazy people (and let’s face it, some of you are).
Don’t get me wrong, there are some really stupid reasons people have given up their pet. But if they care so little and are willing to give up their pet over something so stupid, do you really want that person keeping that pet?
Not everyone has the same attitude about pets you do. Some people view them as pets, tools, or property, not family members. You’re not going to change that. Especially not by getting pissy and judgmental. If you really want to change anything, start educating in a more open, understanding way – and preferably only to people willing to hear what you have to say. Otherwise it is wasted effort that only serves to leave you perpetually angry with the world and making the shelter/rescue community look bad. This angry, holier-than-thou bullshit in these communities needs to stop.