Why Do People Abandon Their Pets? 4 Reasons Why Pet Abandonment Is Still Prevalent
Why do people abandon their pets? Pets—domesticated dogs, cats, hamsters, and everything in between—are undeniably and inherently adorable. Besides their charm and cuteness, having home pets can battle one of life’s greatest threats: loneliness.
With the comfort they can bring, it may seem like a painful, almost-impossible task to ditch pets and let them fend for themselves for the rest of their lives. Nevertheless, some people still choose to do so.
As World Day Against Pet Abandonment nears, it’s time to learn and understand why people abandon animals, why this issue is still prevalent in the pet community, and what we can do to lessen pet abandonment cases.
Why Do Pet Owners Abandon Their Fur Babies?
Before we begin listing why pet abandonment happens, it’s crucial to understand the difference between abandonment and surrendering. Knowing the distinction between the two will help you avoid inadvertently contributing to the pet abandonment issue.
Surrendering refers to giving away pets and voluntarily placing them in animal shelters or rescue organizations. Typically, in surrendering, the pet parent clearly intends to help the animal find a better home.
On the other hand, abandonment involves carelessly dumping the pet and leaving them in dangerous areas, like on roadsides or behind garbage bins, without caring about their well-being and safety.
Animal abandonment is a serious issue that plagues the pet community, amounting to about 6.5 million pets left in shelters in the United States alone this 2023. Of these 6.5 million pets, nearly 2 million animals are euthanized due to overcrowding and insufficient resources.
We have listed four primary factors that could drive pet owners to ditch and dump their pets, whether intentionally or not:
- Lack of resources
- Incapable of caring for the pet
- Safety concerns regarding the pet
- Preference for younger pets
Adopting pets is no laughing matter; caring for them can often burn a massive hole in your pockets. From the actual pet adoption fees and vet bills to buying high-quality pet food and pet accessories, owning pets can be a costly endeavor that can bleed you dry.
To give you an idea of how much pet care can be, the average dog owner can spend at most 3,000 dollars caring for their pet in a year. This sum only includes the essentials for dog care, such as dog nutrition, grooming fees, accessories, regular veterinary care, and medication.
On the other hand, while spending relatively less than dog owners, cat parents can typically spend about a thousand dollars caring for their pet in a year. Similar to the previous example, this number only includes the cat care essentials.
Hence, it’s no surprise that monetary issues are at the top of the list regarding factors contributing to animal abandonment. These monetary problems may have stemmed from unexpected life events, like sudden unemployment, or unavoidable circumstances, like economic inflation or a pandemic.
Inevitably, some pet parents can’t foresee the total costs they would need for pet care, resulting in insufficient funds. When that happens, affected pet parents can no longer afford to provide and care for their furry friends properly.
Inability to Care
Speaking of pet care, while some pet owners have the money, they may be limited in another crucial factor: time. Like financial issues, an owner may find it challenging to care for their pet for several reasons.
First, a significant life event may have occurred, causing the pet parent to place their furry friend at the bottom of their priority list. For instance, if a new family member enters the picture (like a newborn child), some owners may inevitably choose to place the new member’s needs before their pet.
Second, the owner may have underestimated the time and effort proper pet care needs, resulting in inadequate preparation and experience. This scenario typically occurs in new pet parents. These owners may become overwhelmed with the responsibilities, leading them to abandon their pets.
Lastly, the pet parent may have too much already on their plate already, and caring for a pet will only add to their already built-up stress. For instance, some owners may work two jobs, be working students, or be single parents who won’t have the time to feed or walk their pets.
Issues with Safety
Another factor concerns the health of the pet owner and their family. Sometimes, the pet's very existence may place someone’s health at risk, causing the owner to give them up.
The most common safety issue involves allergies. Some family members may be allergic to animal hair. While some may only experience minor symptoms (such as sneezing, itchy eyes, rashes, etc.), others may suffer from severe reactions like asthma attacks and lung issues.
Other pets may also have behavioral issues. Not all dogs or cats are properly trained. Other dogs and cats may have behavioral problems like aggression, which pose a significant safety risk to the family and other animals.
Some common behavioral issues in pets include:
- Separation anxiety
- General anxiety
- Toileting problems
- Excessive barking in dogs.
Aversion to Old Age
While other owners choose to abandon or give up their pets due to factors that cannot be avoided, some pet parents simply prefer owning and caring for younger animals.
Like humans, older pets experience age-related health problems that make caring for them more challenging and expensive. For instance, older dogs typically develop obesity, diabetes, heart issues, and arthritis. On the other hand, older cats may experience intestinal and thyroidal problems, diabetes, and cancer.
As a result, some pet owners would instead give up their senior pets to avoid dealing with additional expenses and responsibilities.
The Aftermath: What can pet abandonment cause?
A few animal abandonment cases can be easily solved. However, it becomes a grave issue when these numbers turn into thousands and even millions. Pet abandonment can result in the following:
- Unsafe circumstances - Pets can encounter events that may endanger their welfare, such as getting hit by a car, starvation, dehydration, or emotional distress.
- Overcrowded shelters and rescues - Abandoned pets may be placed in shelters. Only a tiny percentage get successfully rehabilitated, leaving the rest in these shelters indefinitely.
- Unnecessary pet euthanasia - Animal shelter owners may euthanize abandoned pets if their shelters become overcrowded.
- Emotional adjustment - The guilt and shame of abandoning their pet and losing the animal may take a toll on an owner’s mental health.
Couldn’t they have left their pets in animal shelters?
After learning the factors contributing to pet abandonment, you may wonder why these owners couldn’t have left or given up their pets in animal shelters or rescue organizations.
Technically, they could. However, some animal shelters may ask for relinquishment fees. While cruel, it would cost less for a pet owner to abandon their pets instead of placing them in shelters.
Another reason is because of guilt or shame. The inability to provide for a pet and handle responsibilities may be a tough pill for some. They may have difficulty accepting that they’ve failed as pet parents, causing them to leave their pets in areas where no one is around to see their “failure.”
It can’t be denied that negligently leaving a precious furry friend outside without security and protection is incredibly cruel. However, the world doesn’t always work in black and white.
By that, we mean that not everyone who abandons their pet should be seen and deemed heartless. As listed above, plenty of reasons and factors affect pet owners, ultimately pushing them to leave their pets behind.
Rather than demonizing them, it’s vital to understand where they are coming from and why pet abandonment happens to ensure the issue doesn’t worsen.
Bid Pet Animals Goodbye and Say Hello to Pet Plushies!
What can be done to prevent pet abandonment from worsening? The most prominent next move is to spread awareness, not only about the alarming prevalence of the issue but also about what causes it.
Most importantly, let’s encourage people to choose alternatives to pet ownership if they aren’t ready, committed, and prepared to handle the struggles of pet parenting.
Owning a pet is a fulfilling experience, but it isn’t for everybody. It’s best to turn to alternatives to pet companionship, like pet plushies, instead of adopting real-life pets and abandoning them at the end.
Try Perfect Petzzz’s life-like animal plushies!
We have a wide collection of animal plushies that can give you an authentic pet companionship experience and a lifetime of cuddles without the grueling and expensive responsibilities of pet ownership.
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