May 18, 2023

When Love Hurts: One of the Biggest Reasons Ottawa is Surrendering Pets

Surrendering a pet is a tough and personal decision. We’ve shared before some of the reasons that would bring a pet to the OHS and how we’ll do whatever we can to keep a pet with a family who loves and cares for them.

There is a unique story behind every animal who comes to the OHS, but we have noticed a common thread over the past year. One of the most frequent reasons owners need to surrender their pet is that they simply have too many.

So, what does “too many” mean, how does it happen, and how do things go from manageable to not? Maybe it’s the cost related to aging pets: having many healthy, young animals is a lot less expensive than many older ones suffering from chronic health conditions. A family’s changing life circumstances could mean they no longer have time for the daily cleaning of litter boxes or dog walks. Animals may no longer be getting along with their housemates. Or, it could be that rescuing that one extra pet seemed fine… until it wasn’t.

When someone surrenders a pet, it’s easy to assume they’re in a place in life where caring for any pet simply isn’t possible. In fact, what we’ve learned from this trend, is that pet owners are sometimes overwhelmed — they can still care for one or some of their pets, just not all of them. We’ve seen the heartbreak of owners making hard decisions about which pets they needed to give up. Most often, they make this decision with love and in the best interest of their family and the pet.

How do we prevent this heartbreak, and the consequences for the pets? We need to do more, to help pet owners think in advance about what they should consider if they’re contemplating another pet. What do their next few years look like? What needs can they anticipate their existing pets will have?

At the OHS, one of our goals is to get pets into homes. That’s no secret. An equally important goal of ours is to create matches that will last for the animal’s lifetime. Promoting responsible pet ownership has been a big part of accomplishing this goal, and the information is as crucial for new pet owners as it is for experienced pet owners who are wanting to add to their family.

I’m always happy when people want to bring more animals into their lives, but it needs to be done in a way that doesn’t sacrifice the wellbeing of any of their pets or their family, today or in the future.

I love animals. I’d have a hobby farm if I had my druthers, and my family is happy to dedicate more than the average amount of time to our pets. And while it’s always tempting to adopt more pets into our home (especially working at the OHS). Our family has agreed that with our cat, dog and three Guinea pigs, we’re pretty much at our limit of what we can care for.

The human-animal bond is truly an incredible experience, and loving animals and wanting to rescue them all often go hand in hand. As animal lovers, we want to change the world to make it a better place for all animals. Let’s make sure that starts, by knowing that we’re able to provide the best possible life for our own animals — no matter how many.

Sharon Miko
President & CEO