Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Giving up your pet is not your only option

Gorgeous Siamese cat in a shelter

When I worked for veterinarians, desperate clients would call up from time to time to offer their pets for adoption. They'd bring handouts showing their beautiful pets, with the line, "Someone must adopt her, or I'll have to take her to the pound."

It bothers me. People always throw out the pound option, as though they could simply take their unwanted animals to wide-open shelters and walk away. Oregonian covered this topic in-depth this week. As this article points out, many shelters have incredibly long waiting lists, meaning you can't simply drive over there with your pet when you've made the decision. Often, you must wait a few months. (The Oregonian failed to mention that owners of purebred dogs can contact breed-specific rescues. But that's a topic for another day.)

My main problem with this article is that it suggests that people must either get on waiting lists and wait to drop off their pets, or they must struggle on alone and keep the pets regardless of their situation. I don't think these are the only choices available. Here are just a few alternatives:
  • If you're giving up your pet because you can't afford the animal's medical care, contact Animal Aid. You might qualify for assistance.
  • Behavioral problems can often be solved through the help of a dedicated trainer. There are many, many trainers in the Portland area, and I'm sure they would all appreciate the extra work. 
  • Local food banks often stock pet food, so you can help if your finances are really tight.
  • A move doesn't have to end in a new home for your pet. Local animal shelters often keep in-depth list of pet-friendly rentals. Call them up and ask for suggestions. 
Giving up your pet shouldn't be your first and last choice when your family faces an obstacle. Your pet is counting on you to provide a forever home, and you owe it to your pet to do all you can to make it happen.