E is for Excuses

A-to-Z Blogging Challenge 2015--EMany people assume that shelter dogs are broken somehow. There must be a reason why they were dropped off there, after all. Maybe it’s because we want to assume the best about people. Sometimes it’s because so many of the “bully breeds” end up in shelters, and the stereotype of an aggressive dog prevails. The real reasons most dogs end up in a shelter might surprise you.

First, many dogs come in as strays. This doesn’t mean they were abandoned, or that they are feral (though a few are). Most simply got out of their home or fenced-in yard. If they don’t have tags on and aren’t microchipped, there’s no way to find their owners. (More on microchipping later in the month.)

The top reasons why people surrender animals are because they are moving, and are choosing to move somewhere that doesn’t allow pets (yes, it is a choice, because there are MANY options for pet-friendly housing in all price ranges, no matter where you live), or because they are having a baby. Other common reasons are allergies, or because the animal developed a health condition the owner couldn’t afford to treat, such as heartworms. (More on that later this month, too.)

Here are a few other excuses we’ve heard through our time in the rescue world:

  • The dog licked my baby’s feet and didn’t get along with our ferret (I kid you not: they thought foot-licking was a precursor to aggression–it isn’t–and thought a ferret was a safer pet than a dog to have around an infant.)
  • He barked
  • She didn’t bark enough (they wanted a guard dog, I guess)
  • She couldn’t go down the stairs very well (this was a 2-month old small-breed puppy)
  • He shed too much
  • It made messes in the house/wasn’t housebroken (also regarding a puppy)
  • He got carsick
  • Kept getting out of the yard/kennel/house
  • Got too big (large breed puppy)
  • Didn’t grow big enough (small breed puppy)
  • He hid under the couch and seemed scared (puppy returned to the shelter after 2 days in the home)
  • Too high-energy
  • Too mellow

Many of these excuses were heard from owners who had adopted dogs and then returned them to the shelter, usually just days after adopting them. The ones that break my heart are the dogs who get dropped off after years with a family simply because the family has gotten tired of taking care of them, or an elderly owner is put into a nursing home or passes away and there is no one willing to take care of them. Two of our recent fosters, Bella and Chico, came to the shelter that way. Their owner had passed away, and the adult children said they didn’t have space for two dogs. They were chihuahuas.

Owners who are not willing to bear the responsibility of pet ownership are the biggest reason animals are in shelters. Thankfully, most adopters truly love their new family members, and do everything possible to make the transition into their homes as smooth as possible. Do you have a rescue animal with an interesting back-story? Work with a shelter that has heard a whopper of an excuse? Share it with me in the comments!

Categories: Adoption | Tags: , , , | 13 Comments

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13 thoughts on “E is for Excuses

  1. K. Renae P.

    When a big breed “gets too big” chaps my hide. My brother returned his mixed breed dog because he thought she had gotten too big for the house & my niece. This sweetie had become my niece’s best friend, and my niece was having trouble learning how to play with the big dog who loved her so much. My brother and SIL thought the dog would hurt my overly rambunctious niece.

    Misty wasn’t even gone a day before my brother had to go and pick her up. My niece kept crying and dying, she’d fall to the ground and refuse to “wake up” because Daddy made Misty go away. Three years later, Misty and my niece are still the best of friends.

    My brother now admits it was a really, really dumb move. I still don’t know why they had become convinced that was the right thing to do.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m so glad they returned for her. Not only did your niece get her best friend back, but it teaches her a valuable lesson about taking responsibility for animals that come into her home, even if she was too young to really understand it at the time.


  2. My daughter lives in Michigan and is a big supporter of Detroit Dog Rescue. There are some terrible stories out there of abandoned dogs not even taken there to be rehomed. Two of her four dogs are rescue dogs – one at the home because the owner was moving, the other in a poor state of health. Too many people do not understand what it mens to have a dog.


    • My heart goes out to all the rescuers in the Detroit area. They really do have a unique challenge, with abandonment really becoming a constant as people just walk away from their homes in light of the economic crisis there. So tough!


  3. Hi,
    Thanks for this article on animals. My last cat was put out and I always say he walked up and chose me. After I brought him home, he lived 22 years. He was the most beautiful black cat that I had ever seen.
    Visiting from the A to Z Blog Challenge 2015.
    Patricia at Everything Must Change


    • Our Charlie definitely chose us, too! He climbed a 3 1/2 foot playpen and jumped into my arms! Love hearing rescue stories! Our shelter sees lots of black cats, because so many people still think they’re unlucky. But all of them I’ve known have been so sweet!


  4. A dog at my shelter recently came back after one day because they thought the other dog in the home was uncomfortable. After one day.

    I feel sad whenever I read the excuses for why dogs are brought in (or brought back), but who even knows if they’re true! Just imagine what the excuses are that people are too embarrassed to tell the truth about!

    We got our Mia after her owner (allegedly) moved away and left her. Left her! I can’t imagine that. Just can’t imagine.


    • Yes, our outreach team has been called to homes where the dogs were just left when their families moved away. It’s so sad, and the dogs usually need extra care because they went for some time without food. Breaks my heart!


  5. While I realize there are circumstances where one might have to remove the pet from their home, I think people need to consider all options before getting the pet into their home. We unfortunately had to find a home for our Samoyed years ago when we were moving into an apartment and didn’t think it was fair for him to be confined in a small place. Thankfully, we found him a wonderful home on a farm with lots of space to roam. When we even considered getting Koda we made two commitments, he would always move with us when we moved, no matter the cost of pet deposits, etc., and when that time came with his health, we would make a hard decision and not keep him alive for our sakes. We honored both commitments (the harder one was putting him to sleep, but it was the best decision). The home we are currently living in (we were scheduled to move a week after we put him down, a week after we signed the lease) is not our ideal home but we had made the commitment to have him come with us and signed the lease and then a week later we were saying good bye to him. My brother had to find homes for his mother in law’s 3 dogs when she passed (he did, didn’t take them to the shelter) and my sister in law had to find a home for the rescue dog her mom had taken in. Her mom was always afraid she would pass before the dog did, that came to be, but thankfully again a home was found for him. I read on another blog a few months ago that a dog was brought to a shelter because the plans to breed them for puppies didn’t pan out and now they wanted to get rid of the dog. Those people should NEVER be allowed to get another dog in my opinion.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Any time you can avoid having a dog spend time in a shelter, you’re helping the dog immensely. There are certainly circumstances where dogs need to be re-homed, and where it’s difficult for the owners to place them. But I applaud you and your family for making sure to make arrangements and most importantly for committing to what was best for your pets, even when it’s hard.


  6. I can’t believe some of those reasons for taking a dog to a shelter. I guess none of those owners had done even minimal research before getting a dog. Great post.


    • Thanks. Mostly I think people just don’t really understand the responsibility of taking care of a pet, or they get tired of it after a few days or weeks. And yes, a little basic research can go a long way.


  7. Wonderful post, Amy! I write a pet column for a local monthly magazine as well as help various rescues as a volunteer. I use my writing to educate and inspire people in hopes of making the world a better place (or at least my community a better place) for animals. Thank you for this great post and all you do for pets!


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