For Too Many Families Pets Are Disposable


Shelter dog

I understand the decision to give up a pet isn’t an easy one for many families. I understand many circumstances make families feel like they don’t have a choice. Still, I don’t apologize for my stance on this subject.

I’ve thought about how to approach this in a diplomatic and gentle way without being too judgy. But I’m just too bothered right now to care. It’s frustrating and it makes me angry. And I know that I’m not alone in this.

Too often, I see humans who give up their pets because shit gets hard. Guess what? They should’ve thought of that before they got a pet. It’s no secret pets are expensive, messy, loud, energetic, needy attention suckers.

What really kills me is the abundance of repeat offenders. Some people get a dog or a cat because it’s cute, new, and that’s what families do. Then they decide the dog is too much to handle or the cat they never had spayed gets out and gets pregnant. Off to the shelter. Half a year later, they go get another dog because puppies are CUTE and that’s what families do. The cycle continues.

Animals are living beings. They’re not furniture you get tired of or clothing you grow out of and can just get rid of or replace anytime.

Lack of forethought and responsible thinking lead to innocent and loving animals getting booted out of their homes and families. How must they feel? What do they become? Abandoned, passed-off, confused, untrusting, ungrounded, and too often, euthanized.

The pets my husband and I have are all victims of such people. I wish we could save them all. I wish I could somehow get people to understand the gravity of their choices.

Getting a pet is not a flighty decision. Before bringing a life home, we must think hard about it and be sure we’re up for the immense responsibility. Then when we’ve done it, we must stick with it and live up to what we’ve promised. We’ve promised (like it or not) to care for and love this animal even though shit gets hard. And believe me, it does get hard.

I’ve heard, “S/He is part of our family, but we have no choice.” That’s crap. If they honestly believed their pet is a part of their family, they’d find a way. If their son, daughter, sister, or spouse pissed on the floor or dug up the garden, would they do the same to them? Nope. They’d work it out. Come on. Saying your pet is part of the family when the truth is you don’t act like it seems like a poor attempt at appeasing guilt.

What’s the solution? What can those of us who care do about it?

Educate, donate, and support.

  • Talk about it. Get the word out and spread awareness as far as you can reach. Check out this post about what to consider before getting a dog. If you know someone considering a pet, talk to them. If it seems they don’t already, help them understand how heavily they should weigh their decision.
  • If you know someone struggling with life with a pet, ask what you can do to help. Take the pet for a weekend, offer to walk the dog, or schedule play dates with your pets. Offer advice and suggestions like hiring a dog-walker or using a pet daycare a couple of days per week. Do what you can to help ease their burden and reconsider giving up their pet. If surrender is still imminent (or if the pet is better off leaving the home) offer to help find a loving and safe home.
  • To help those already or soon to be in the system, donate dollars and time to pet charities and shelters.

Pets are not disposable. They deserve love, safety, and stability.

Ready for something heartwarming and positive? Check out this endearing post on Dogster about how a pup given up 10 times finally got his forever home.