February 1, 2018
Celebrating the BondLast year, 1,432 animals were surrendered to the care of the OHS by their families. As a measure to reduce the number of surrendered animals over time, we track the reasons why people surrender their pet. Aside from “unknown” — the top reasons were “owner problem,” — that is, something about the owner, whether it be allergies, or too much work, or too little time — and “moving”. We know not everyone is forthright in their answer here. Studies in the U.S. suggest that many people are reluctant to tell shelters the real reason for giving up their pet, often a behaviour of the animal, out of a (generally misplaced) concern that the shelter will not rehome an animal because of something the owner has revealed at surrender.
Here is the thing, I would argue that most animals are surrendered to shelters for only one reason: the bond between the human and animal never formed, or in rarer cases, the bond has broken down. There may be good reasons for this. For most people, bonding with an animal with problematic behaviours is a greater challenge than with her better-behaved counterparts. House-soiling, destructiveness, even just pulling constantly on the leash can be taxing. A problematic behaviour is upsetting for someone who expected an easier and better-behaved companion. Good news though, a lot of animal behaviour can be changed.
Not only will the dog leave an obedience class demonstrating better manners and overall behaviour, but going through the experience together tends to bond the owner with the dog. OHS seminars equip owners with simple tools to intervene and create the “good” cat or dog that we dreamed of.
All of this makes it less likely that dog or that cat will end up in a shelter. And that is something to celebrate.