Why pets end up in shelters?

I was reading Tuft’s University “Your Dog” newsletter and was  intrigued by a short article with the same title as this blog. For years I have repeated the standard mantra that poor behavior resulted in dogs being abandoned. Well it turns out that this “fact” was based on research performed by the National Council on Pet Population and Policy more than a decade ago at 12 shelters. This research has been used by dog trainers, equipment manufactures and a host of other pet related enterprises to justify their services and products. Well newer data might force folks to rethink things.

Pet Health Inc. from Ontario Canada reviewed data from 800 animal welfare organizations and more than a million dogs in North America and discovered it was generally human behavior rather than dog behavior that resulted in dogs being surrendered. The top ten reasons dogs were surrendered were:

1. Too many pets (18%)
2. Unwanted/incompatible (10%)
3. Moving/deployed (10%)
4. Stray/found/abandoned (8%)
5. Inability to care for (8%)
6. Financial/home insurance policy restrictions (6%)
7. Euthanasia request (5%)
8. Unwanted litter/pregnant female (4%)
9. Allergic to animal (4%)
10. Family health/death of owner (3%)

Now we know this list is open to interpretation and lumps together potentially different reasons into the same category.  But even with these limitations the data reveals that not a single pet specific behavioral issue was one of the top 10 reasons dogs are abandoned.  If you do some simple math, at least 76% of dogs were abandoned for reasons NOT related to their behavior.

So, how do we reduce the number of dogs going to shelters?  What are your thoughts?

Thanks for reading!