“I’m sure someone will adopt him.” Wake up.
So you’ve left your dog at the shelter. Now the clock starts. Your dog has about 72 hours to find new owners, starting at the time you dropped him off. This 3 day deadline can be extended if the shelter isn’t jam packed with other abandoned pets, and if your dog manages to ward off one of the many infections that inhabit animal shelters. Your dog will lay on a cement floor, confined to a small kennel, surrounded by other displaced dogs. Your dog will shiver, whine for you, and wonder what it did to deserve such a horrid punishment. It will be forced to relieve itself in the same place it sleeps. Each day their cement box will be pressure washed to clear the area of their excrement. Your dog will cry for companionship, attention and care. Most will receive attention via a metal bowl filled with donated food slid under their door twice a day, and the lucky ones (at facilities with lots of staff and volunteers) will get to go for a walk or two during their stay.
Eventually, all this anxiety and confusion will make your dog more succeptible to picking up one of the many viruses and bacteria that are housed in the shelter. As soon as your dog shows any signs of poor health, he will euthanized. As soon as your dog starts displaying any type of adverse behaviors, he will be euthanized. If your dog gets into an altercation with another dog, he will be euthanized. The shelter employees and volunteers do not do this because of a sadistic love of euthanizing pets, they do it because they lack the resources to nurse your ill dog back to health, and because they lack the space to separate dogs with special needs.
Odds are, your dog will not get adopted. I know you’d like to continue believing the fairytale that some young family will come in and adopt your dog within an hour of you leaving him, but it’s not likely. The chances of him continuing to live out his days chasing birds behind a white picket fence are slim and none. Certain dogs coming into shelters are pretty much dead on arrival (although this is changing somewhat because of an outpouring of rescue organizations dedicated to saving these misunderstood breeds), especially bully breeds such as Rotweilers, American Pit Bull Terriers, American Bulldogs, Presa Canarios, etc.
If your dog manages to stay healthy, is a breed deemed desirable by the majority of people, and there is enough room to keep them beyond 72 hours, the kennel lifestyle will begin to wear them down. Most dogs kept in kennel conditions will begin to become protective of their space, depressed, and will begin to act aggressively in one way or another. Aggressive dogs must be put down, and most dogs do not make it more than a few weeks kept in a typical kennel.
I’m sorry, did I make you feel bad?
Do you feel bad knowing that your devastated dog was left to cry in a strange place for a few days before being humanely euthanized? Did I crush your dream of being able to live your life exactly as you please without any regard for the living creatures you chose to make a part of it?
Perhaps it will make you feel better to know that you’re in good company, that every year over 10 million animals die in animal shelters. 10 million. I’m not even sure I have the capacity to fathom that number, but I do have the ability to make people stop and think before dumping their animal off at a shelter like a piece of trash. Stop being selfish, and step up to the responsibility you took on when you chose to become a dog owner.
Please, save your excuses. Your dog doesn’t care why they’re being abandoned by you, and they do not understand why they’re being left in a cell, in the care of strangers while you move on with your life.
How does this happen, why are there so many dogs in shelters?
Personally, I believe breeders have a lot to do with the high shelter dog population. I do not mean this as an attack on all breeders, but the fact remains that there are many unscrupulous breeders out there, having litter after litter as way to make an income. These breeders simply selling dogs for profit, and they should be forced to spend a week working in the back of an animal shelter to see what happens to these abandoned pets. Perhaps it would encourage them to breed less, educate owners more, and screen potential applicants to ensure they know what dog ownership really entails, or pursue another means of securing an income.
Another issue is “cute puppy syndrome”. People buy dogs from malls to give to others as gifts. People try to emulate celebrities by purchasing the latest designer mixed breed dog. Many people have their blinders on when presented with the opportunity to have a cute, tiny puppy, only to change their minds later when they have a 90 pound, 10 month old dog on their hands. We are suckers for sweet, little puppies, and in the end, the dogs suffer as a result of our need for instant gratification.