Animal Shelters: Stop Animal Abandonment

January 15, 2019
8 out of 10 abandoned animals are mutts and more than half are seniors while 30% are puppies. The solutions to this misfortune are sterilization, identification with a microchip and adopting pets rather than buying them, although the law -- which already considers animals to be living beings -- also plays a critical role.

According to a study by the Affinity Foundation, in 2016, 104,447 dogs and 33,335 cats were collected by Spanish animal shelters. In 2015, the figures were practically the same. In 2017, everything indicates that the data will not be any more promising. What can you do to improve the situation?

The profile of an abandoned animal and the causes of abandonment

The same study identified the traits of the animals that arrived at the shelters. Is it true that more mixed-breed animals are abandoned than the so-called “purebreds?”

  • 81% of the animals and dogs abandoned by their owners are mixed-breed. This supports the belief that, even today, it’s considered best to have a purebred animal.
  • 30% of the abandoned cats and dogs are babies. 57% are adults, and the remaining 32% are senior animals. Baby animals tend to be popular among families usually until, in the case of dogs, they grow to be an unexpected size, which forces them to get rid of the animal. Puppies and kittens will remain in a shelter only a quarter of the time that older animals will spend.
  • Despite certain unethical practices, this study states that only 32% of sick animals are abandoned, despite the fact that abandonment often takes place when an owner is unable to pay veterinary expenses.
abandoned pets in 2015

As far as the causes of abandonment, they allegedly tend to be related to unwanted litters. In worst cases, some owners even put to sleep puppies and older hunting dogs that can’t work.

There are cases of dogs that have not received proper training when they were puppies, so when they reach adulthood, they become unmanageable for their owners.

What people can do to improve the situation

To begin, we must emphasize that many animal protection organizations depend on donations and voluntary work in order to operate. This means that, if the practice of abandoning animals does not begin to decrease, soon it will not be enough.

Many shelters offer ECTS credits to university students in exchange for a few hours of volunteer work or encourage locals to participate in raffles or charity events which help them raise funds.

However, the only long-term solution for improving animals’ lives is responsible and supportive behavior of owners. This can be done by:

  • Sterilizing animals at an early age to avoid unwanted litters and reproductive or hormonal complications.
  • Identifying your pet with a microchip that allows the shelters to return them if he is lost.
  • Considering what life would be like with a pet before buying or acquiring one. Remember that a cat or a dog will require certain hours of your time as well as financial resources. Also, don’t treat a living being like an object.
  • Adopting before buying. As already explained in this article, animal shelters don’t have enough financial resources and also adoption gives you the opportunity to improve the living conditions of a living creature.
abandoned dogs in 2015

Small advances in legislation

In December 2017, the Congress of Deputies unanimously supported a law that considers animals to be living beings and not objects, because before animals were considered to be movable property.

With this law, they emulated the provisions in the Italian and French civil codes that already recognized animals’ condition as living beings for a long time. This is a step towards the recognition of animals’ rights and the obligations that they entail for their owners.

Slater, M. R., Di Nardo, A., Pediconi, O., Villa, P. D., Candeloro, L., Alessandrini, B., & Del Papa, S. (2008). Free-roaming dogs and cats in central Italy: Public perceptions of the problem. Preventive Veterinary Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.prevetmed.2007.10.002