In my conversations with clients, there seems to be a prevailing thought process that every dog or cat they adopt from a shelter has been dramatically abused in one form or fashion. This discussion is in no way minimizing those animals that are abused, but there are other reasons for surrendering a companion and not all those reasons are abuse or lack of compassion. For the new guardian, every behavioral issue is the result of previous guardian and the eating habits, whether finicky or they are voracious eater stems from what has happened to them in the before time. Among the puppy mill dogs and the cattery companions there are others who were the very loved and often spoiled.
Life circumstances can change unexpectedly and the animal companion may no longer be getting the attention she once enjoyed. The daily walk has tapered off to once a week. The classes they went to together are cancelled. Each event, once taken as a given becomes a rare occurrence until they are but a shadow of memory. The love still flow solidly from guardian to companion but time has become the thief and soon an evening spent between them becomes an absent pat on the head under the weight of other obligations. The guardian knows he has no longer the time and so surrenders the companion to another.
Some cats and dogs have seen their guardian’s transition and are brought to a shelter because the guardian’s survivors have neither the inclination nor the temperament to take them into their home. And so to the shelter she goes.
Behavior issues such as separation anxiety and/or overriding fear of loud noises may prove too much for the inexperienced guardian and family. Perhaps professional help is not available in location or finances.
Some guardians become infirm and can no longer physically or mentally care for the companion or it might be the companion’s health that cannot be managed.
These events are heartbreaking for both and the decision is often soul searching for the guardian. But they are usually made with the benefit of the guardian in mind.
The point being those quirky behaviors and reactions are not necessarily signs of abuse but rather traits that the former guardian did find offensive or, in the other extreme, could not handle. A dog that is hand-shy has not necessarily been struck and more commonly is just hand-shy because they do not know their new guardians. A new dog that does not want to interact with the new family, even if it is taking longer than the family seems it should, doesn’t mean she doesn’t know how to interact, but perhaps has chosen not to for the time being.
Adopting shelter and rescue animals is not synonymous with adopting abused animals. 29% are surrendered due to change in living conditions and the new residence does not allow pets. 18% are surrendered because of behavior issues. 10% of companion animals are giving to shelters or rescues because of divorce, illness or other guardian issues such as allergies.
To save an animal from a life of abuse is a noble cause, but let us save that titled for those who are actually saving an abused animal and understand we are ‘adopting’ the other fifty-seven percent.