According to 2016 reports from the ASPCA, an estimated 6.5 million companion animals will enter our nation’s shelters this year. Of those, an average 60% will enter as strays, while the remaining 30-40% will be surrendered by their owners. Sadly, the biggest reason for owner surrenders is 100% preventable when approached with patience and love. That reason? Behavior issues within the home.
Whether it is because a new puppy or kitten is not taken to socialization and/or basic training classes, or because the pet was adopted with an acquired behavioral issue that the new owner was not equipped or prepared to handle, behavioral issues make up more than half owner relinquished pets within the US. The former can be for a variety of issues. For some, it may be cost of the class, which average between $100 and $130 in the Tallahassee area, depending on where you chose to go. For others, it may be a time commitment issue, both in regards to taking the puppy or kitten to class or the perceived inability to continue the training at home. Regardless of the reason, cute little puppies and kittens will grow up. When not provided a positively reinforced structured environment to do so, undesirable and potentially “hard to deal with” behaviors can surface
When pets reach the end of their prime socialization period and begin to enter adolescents during the latter part of their first year, any undesired behaviors that have been acquired, can prove to be more challenging to reverse. Pets with known behavioral problems can still make wonderful pets and are equally deserving of a loving home. Consider these questions:
What type of environment will the pet thrive the best in? This question addresses breed choice as well as temperament and behavioral issues. Do you live in an apartment or a house? If you are looking to bring a dog into an apartment or town home, will they be well suited for that type of living? A high energy dog would need be be exercised daily in this type of situation. Will you have the time for that (or the finances to hire the staff at Creation’s Care Pet Sitting to do it for you)?
Can you care for the needs of the pet? Over the past couple of years, my husband and I adopted two special needs pets. One was an amputee (after attempts to save his leg injured by a hit by car accident proved not to be successful) and the other has Addison’s Disease. Little Bit (our amputee) was easy. Once healed from the amputation, he was in perfect health. Chanel, however, was a different story. With Addison’s disease, we knew up front that she would be on meds for life. She gets an oral medication daily and then we give her a shot every month. Because we knew about her condition up front and, with talking to her doctors, could estimate how much it would take to keep her happy and healthy for the duration of her time with us beyond the usual food and twice yearly wellness exams. We ran the numbers and decided that yes, we could care for her and her needs. For her size (five pounds) we spend an average $80 a year on her oral meds and $170 every eighteen months for her injection shot, which we do administer at home (to save us some money and, more importantly, her the added stress of seeing the DVM every month). Could you take on that commitment?
Do you have the emotional energy, time, resources, and support of professionals in the area who can help you help your new pet work through their issues? Creation’s Care was recently at an adoption event where our vendor booth was right next to one of the local rescue groups in town. Throughout the course of the event I heard one of the rescue organizers, who was also a DVM, mention to a potential pet parent , “Jean Smith,* a local dog trainer in town that we highly recommend, should be able to assist you in working through his issues, but it may not be something that entirely goes away.” If you were told that, or something similar, regarding a pet you were interested in adopting, would you still say “YES?” Many times, people think they can handle a situation, only to realize later on that they really took on more than they could chew and return the dog to the shelter or rescue group.
Whether you have been a pet parent for years or are considering getting your first fur-baby, we at Creation’s Care encourage everyone to do their homework. Do you have the financial resources and the willingness to provide for a pet to live in and grow. By honestly looking at both our financial and time commitment towards having pet, we can reduce the number or owner relinquishment to the shelters and provide more pets their forever home.
*name changed to protect identity