Pet Abandonment: A Year-Round Problem

March 3, 2019
Animals are abandoned every day. Rescue organizations spend countless hours working to save these animals.

Pet abandonment is, unfortunately, still an everyday issue, regardless of the time of year. However, the number of dogs and cats rescued by shelters is slowly beginning to decline according to some encouraging data.

Pets abandonment any time of the year

Abandoning pets like this puppy in the street.

According to the latest study on pet abandonment carried out by the Affinity Foundation, in Spain, 104,501 dogs and 33,300 cats were rescued from the streets during 2015. These numbers, they say, are slightly lower than those recorded in previous years.

In addition, pet owners have been able to recover their pets more often. This is because a greater number of animals have a microchip, especially dogs.

On the other hand, it was found that financial difficulties were no longer the main reason for getting rid of an animal. The main cause now lies in the behavioral or adaptation problems that animals may have.

However, pet abandonment continues to a big problem for our furry friends.

Unfortunately, pet abandonment is an everyday problem. Performing educational and awareness campaigns seems to be the way to reverse this sad situation. Appealing to the responsibility of the owners is not enough.

Cat abandoning season

Although the number of animals collected by rescuers is constant throughout the year, there’s a difference between the number of dogs and the number of cats found.

Animal rescuers at shelters record the highest amount of cats found during the second quarter of the year. However, this doesn’t mean that pet owners abandon their cats when they are heading out for vacations.

The reason lies in the fact that reproduction in cats is seasonal and corresponds to the periods of highest sunlight. This period also coincides with the greatest temperature rise of the year. Unwanted litters are among the main causes of animal abandonment by this time.

This is why it’s essential to insist on sterilization. If we don’t want puppies, the solution isn’t to get rid of the pregnant dog or cat, or their offspring. It’s about preventing our pets from getting pregnant.

Reasons given for pet abandonment

Apart from those already mentioned, other reasons given for the abandonment of animals are:

  • Change of address
  • Lost interest in the pet
  • Lack of time or space
  • Allergies
  • The birth of a child
  • Pregnancy (fear of toxoplasmosis)

What happens to pets in shelters?

Pet owners abandon all kinds of domestic dogs and cats, according to data from the Affinity Foundation. This problem doesn’t particularly affect animals of a specific age, breed, or health condition.

We can point out that, as for cats and dogs rescued and taken to shelters:

  • 44% of them are adopted by someone
  • 19% return to their owners
  • 14% remain in the animal shelter
  • 10% of them are put down

We can also find some differences between dogs and cats here. The percentage of dogs that are returned to their owners is 25.9%, while the number of cats is only 3%. This is because pet owners are identifying more dogs than cats using microchips.

Let’s be conscious and responsible with pets

An abandoned cat.

Specialists keep insisting that pet owners should take responsibility for their animals.

No one can force people to have a pet. Yet it’s a fact that a pet can’t take care of itself. We should be aware of this when making the decision of adopting one. This means it’s important to be responsible for its food, hygiene, and health, among other things.

We must never forget that these are living beings. They cannot and should not be discarded when we get bored, or when they don’t meet the expectations we had about them. So let’s think twice before abandoning pets.

Tuber, D. S., Miller, D. D., Caris, K. A., Halter, R., Linden, F., & Hennessy, M. B. (1999). Dogs in Animal Shelters: Problems, Suggestions, and Needed Expertise. Psychological Science. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9280.00173

Wells, D. L., & Hepper, P. G. (2000). Prevalence of behaviour problems reported by owners of dogs purchased from an animal rescue shelter. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0168-1591(00)00118-0

Turner, P., Berry, J., & MacDonald, S. (2012). Animal shelters and animal welfare : Raising the bar. Canadian Veterinary Journal.