Every year, millions of animals are given up, or abandoned by their owners.
In this guide, we look at the main reasons why people give up their pets – whether the pet ends up re-homed, or left to a shelter or animal rescue.
(We’ve also put a guide together outlining some of the potential solutions to, and ways to stop these pet abandonment problems)
Summary – Top Reasons Why People Give Up Their Pets
Surveys and feedback from shelter volunteers shows that the main reasons are:
- Having a low income and living in communities with high poverty rates (owner is unable to afford to pay pet expenses like veterinary care, or buy pet supplies)
- A lack of available, suitable or affordable pet friendly rental homes
- The pet’s behavior being an issue (can be caused by a lack of obedience training and socialisation in a lot of cases, or even a lack of exercise and stimulation)
- And, in some parts of the world – unwanted or unplanned litters (can be magnified by a lack of responsible spaying and neutering)
1. Owner Has A Low Income, Or Lives In A Community With A High Poverty Rate
One of the main reasons people give up their pets is because of a low income, or living in communities with higher poverty rates.
Those earning $50,000 or less in a developed country have been identified as a an income group at significantly more risk of giving up their pet/s at some point (because they are having cost and housing issues).
Having a low income obviously means people may face challenges providing for themselves, their family, but then also paying for pet food, vet bills (check ups, vaccinations, spaying and neutering, medicine and other medical care), pet supplies and other pet related expenses such as pet boarding when the owner has to leave home for a period of time.
2. A Lack Of Affordable Pet Friendly Rentals
Some landlords allow pets on their rental properties, whilst others don’t.
This is another main reason people give up their pets – because they can’t find an available pet friendly rental, or they can’t find a pet friendly rental that fits in their budget.
3. Pet Behavioral Issues
Another main reason for pets being given up is the behavior of the pet.
Behavioral issues are often because the animal hasn’t been given the proper time for obedience or training, or isn’t socialised or exercised enough.
These behavioral issues can include chewing on furniture and house items, going to the toilet inside, barking, jumping the fence/escaping the yard, and so on.
4. Unwanted Litters, Or Unplanned Pet Births
Unwanted litters and unplanned pet births happen usually when dogs or cats haven’t be spayed or neutered.
Once people have one or two pets, they might not want anymore, or simply can’t care for anymore – so they have to give up the litter.
5. Expensive Emergency Vet Bills
In the event of a pet medical emergency – vet bills can be very high, and can be even more of an issue when the owner doesn’t have pet insurance.
Some people can not afford these bills, or haven’t planned for it and don’t have savings, and may choose not to pursue treatment once bills reach a certain amount So, the pet has to be euthanized.
6. Owner Moves House
The owner may have to move house, or even move countries.
In this instance, the owner can’t (due to the new living situation, or due to logistical/practical issues with the move) or may not want to take their pet with them.
7. Pet Is Incompatible With An Existing Or New Lifestyle Or Living Situation
This can take any number of forms such as:
- The pet is too big or too energetic for the living area and there isn’t enough space for them
- The pet is too big for the owners to handle long term
- The owner gets a new job (where they might have to work more or travel more), or a romantic partner, and doesn’t have the time to commit to walking and interacting with the dog anymore
- The family has a baby – which changes family dynamics and needs
- Other people enter the house who have pet allergies
- A new pet doesn’t get along with another existing pet or animal in the house
8. Pet Is Aggressive Towards Or Harms Other Humans Or Animals
Can include behavior like growling, lunging, snapping and biting.
Obviously, in this instance, it isn’t safe to keep the pet around other humans and animals.
This isn’t always the pet’s fault – there can be something in their environment that is making them scared, or they may not have been socialised or trained properly as an adolescent (which leads to aggression or harm to others).
9. The Owner Gets Too Old To Care For The Pet, Or The Owner Dies
Getting older can mean the owner becomes incapable mentally or physically to care for their pet anymore.
And obviously, if the owner passes away and there is no one else immediately to care for the animal, they will have to be given up.
10. Owner Experiences Physical Or Mental Health Issues
Physical or mental health issues can impact a young or middle age person’s ability to care for and keep a pet.
11. Other Reasons
Can include the following, but this isn’t an extensive list:
- Owner loses their job
- The owner gets given the pet as a birthday or Xmas gift, and never wanted the pet themselves in the first place
- The owner simply gets bored with the pet
- The owner tires of the responsibility that caring for a pet requires
- The novelty of a puppy or kitten or baby animal wears off for the owner after the initial purchase – buyer’s remorse
- People abandon or drop pets off at shelters/rescues because they don’t have the time or are too lazy to go through the proper re-homing process
- The pet sheds too much in the house and the owner gets annoyed by it or gets sick of cleaning up
- The owner doesn’t research pets before buying, and has false expectations, or no realistic expectations at all
- The pet gets too old and becomes too difficult to care for, or the owner loses interest in them