One thing I will never understand is the mentality of a person who voluntarily surrenders a member of the family (pet) to the local shelter. Equally as bad are those that adopt a pet, only to return them to the shelter days, weeks, or months later.
The focus of this article is to individuals who choose to adopt, and then experience “buyer’s remorse” or simply aren’t prepared for the responsibility of owning a pet.
Some might argue it is better to return the pet if the new family or person isn’t up to the task.
I will say bluntly don’t bother walking through the door unless you are fully prepared to offer a forever home!
Others might chime in and point out that “sometimes a pet isn’t the right fit for a family.”
Fair enough, but let me remind everyone that humans are not perfect, so why expect a companion animal to be?
Pet’s are not something you return to the store, like clothes or other gifts you don’t like.
Adopt A Pet Should Mean Adopt For Life
It is my belief that in most cases surrendering an animal that was previously adopted could have been avoided if proper thought and planning had taken place prior to bringing home a new furry addition to the family.
As a volunteer at the local Humane Society, seeing dogs and cats that are returned is not all that uncommon.
And the reasons can be so frustrating.
For instance, the person was “moving” and the new place wouldn’t accept a pet…BS
Or they just can’t “afford” the pet anymore…BS
They couldn’t “handle” the dog…BS
So do legitimate reasons exist for returning a pet to the shelter?
Of course…if the dog or cat becomes aggressive towards a member of the family…
Or if a person is living alone and suddenly passes away.
These would be the only reasons I could personally accept.
However at the Humane Society, each pet that comes in has a file which documents any behavior or medical issues, and before these animals are adopted each issue is addressed.
At a kill shelter, for instance, it might be easier for aggressive behavior to fall through the cracks.
Regardless, in many cases “pet parents” who choose to return a dog or cat to the Humane Society do so for purely selfish reasons.
“I don’t have enough time”
“I work too much”
“I’m too tired to take Rover out for a walk”
Blah Blah Blah
If they would have just sat down, and honestly asked themselves a few simple question, perhaps Rover or Kitters would not experience the promise of a home ripped away…Again!!
Rather than focus on my frustration as it relates to returned pets, I chose to create a very simple questionnaire for folks to fill out prior to bringing home a new member of the family.
If you know someone who might be looking to adopt a dog or a cat, that you feel might be doing it for the wrong reasons, by all means, pass this along to them.
For maximum effectiveness, these questions must be answered Before going to the shelter.
While most shelters have a vetting process, emotional attachments to an animal can, and will cloud a person’s judgment.
It is always better to be proactive instead of reactive.
Window “shopping” for a shelter animal is NOT the time to be impulsive!
Top 10 Questions to ask yourself before Adopting A Pet
1) Do you consider your pet to be a member of the family?
2) If so what would cause you to surrender your new family member?
3) Are you prepared for “accidents” in the house and/or maintaining a clean litter box?
4) How many hours per day will your pets be alone or unattended in your house?
5) Are you willing to spend quality time bonding with your new family member, including long walks, opportunities to socialize with other dogs, and/or cat play?
6) Can you afford regular vet visits for yearly vaccinations?
7) Are you prepared to purchase flea treatment, heart worm prevention, and other medication as needed to maintain a healthy pet?
8) Would you seek out the help of a certified trainer to learn skills which could help you communicate with your dog if needed?
9) Who will take care of your pets if you choose to vacation or travel without them?
10) Why have you chosen to adopt a pet now?
This questionnaire is designed to force a person to use critical thinking instead of thinking emotionally when making an extremely important decision to adopt.
Based on truthful answers a person should be able to determine if welcoming a new member of the family is the right decision for them.
By the way, if the answer to the first question is NO I strongly advise against bringing an animal home. Ever!
If a person says “I want to adopt a puppy because they are so cute” or “I want to adopt a kitten because, look how cute she is,” chances are they are adopting for all the wrong reasons.
While these reasons should not disqualify a person from adopting, it will greatly increase the chance of the animal being returned when the “cuteness” wears off.
Rescuing a fur baby from a shelter is one of the greatest acts of kindness humans can offer unwanted or abused animals.
My goal is not to judge others or try to shame someone in keeping an animal.
Far from it.
Clearly when a person chooses to adopt their heart is in the right place.
The goal is to simply offer an opportunity to make sure the heart is in line with the head with respect to the reality of responsibilities.
When Common Sense Fails
Perhaps if more people took a common sense approach, or were honest with themselves, to begin with, pets wouldn’t end up in a shelter at all.
I have witnessed firsthand the look of a dog after she had been surrendered by her owner.
Karla was heartbroken…
She would barely lift her head off her little dog bed.
What’s worse is Karla is an absolute Sweetheart who’s spirit is broken.
So sad to see.
Just one small example of how a dog was bonded to her “family” for life, but her “family” was bonded to lame excuses.
There is nothing more pure, than the unconditional love given by a companion animal.
As a society, we owe it to ourselves and these marvelous loving animals to step up to the plate and be accountable when a choice is made to welcome a new member to the family…Fur and all.
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