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Why are so many dogs in shelters and what can be done about it?

How to prevent dogs from going to shelters
How to prevent dogs from going to shelters
Photo by Desiree Navarro/Getty Images

There's no denial over the fact that shelters seem to always be at full capacity, and some at some point must even stop taking in pets because they are so over crowded, but what causes so many people to want to relinquish their dogs? The National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy seems to have some answers. Indeed, this organization has compiled a list on the top reasons dogs are surrendered in the Unites States. Let's take a look at some of the reasons, and some possible solutions.

1) Moving

Why are so many people surrendering their pets when they are moving? Perhaps several owners are overwhelmed by the whole ordeal or the associated costs. In some cases, they may be relocating to an overseas country and the whole trip and necessary documentation may seem intimidating. There are chances that some dog breeds are restricted in certain cities or the new place doesn't accept pets. In many cases, careful planning can turn out helpful.

For owners who have time on their side, some research may reveal solutions. If the city restricts a particular breed, living in the outskirts may be an option. Worried about bringing Fido along for a long car ride across the States? Many hotel chains now accept pets.While plane travel may seem a tad bit intimidating due to the bad press of the occasional horror story, consider that overall, a large percentage of pets are flown safely every year, and many breeders rely on this type of transportation to deliver their precious cargo to prospective dog owners living in other States.

2) Landlord Issues

This issue makes you wonder if these are people who sneaked in pets in properties owner by landlords who didn't want pets. In some cases, the landlord may have been fine with pets, until the pet engaged in some problematic behavior. Granted, no landlord will be happy in discovering his carpet being eaten in pieces or neighbors complaining about barking.

In several circumstances, landlords though may negotiate and find an agreement. Perhaps the owner may pay a monthly charge for the dog or agree to pay for any damages when the lease ends. If barking is a problem, dog owners may consult with a dog behavior specialist and see what solutions can be offered. At times, relentless barking may be due to separation anxiety or boredom. Also, consider that some landlords may be willing to close an eye if you own a small dog. According to Not in the Dog House, small dog breeds may sometimes yip around the rules when it comes to living in an apartment.

3) Cost of Pet Maintenance

Sadly, the plummeting economy can put a toll on dog owners struggling with their finances. These dog owners find themselves forced to cut corners where they can, and often Rover is the first one to pay the price. Whether the owner lost a job or the dog developed a medical condition and his treatment is no longer affordable, this is an issue that can be difficult to solve.

A good way to prevent veterinary bills from piling up is to invest in dog insurance. Some plans are only $25 to $40 dollars a month and pay 80 percent of the vet bills. Alternatively, a savings plan can be set up just for Rover to cover unexpected expenses. It's worth asking shelters about low cost veterinary options or applying for services like Care Credit.

4) No Time for Pet

When cost is not an issue, time can be. Often this is a result of poor choices. Some people may choose cute puppies at the shelter without thinking about their energy levels and how it will affect them. An energetic border collie is a poor fit for a person that has no time to drain that energy. Soon, the dog is bouncing off the walls and acting destructive.

Bringing the dog to dog daycare or hiring a dog walker may be a solution. Sometimes, a teenager in need of extra cash, may be willing to visit your dog daily and entertain him and walk him. Good time management can also be an option, putting the alarm clock half hour back may give dog owners time for an invigorating morning walk before heading to work.

5) Inadequate Facilities

In order to own a dog responsibly, it's important to provide the right type of housing to keep him safe. Some dog owners fail to do that. Dogs who are chained, left outside in frigid temperatures and in a general state of neglect, may be forced to give up their dogs. This can be easily remedied by keeping the dog in the home, or in a sheltered area with needed protection.

6) Too Many Pets in the Home

Hoarding is a serious issue. When too many pets are housed together, hygiene, care and meeting general needs is difficult. Several times, these owners are well meaning, in other words, they are trying to keep many pets off the streets, but they don't realize the negative effects on the dogs not receiving sufficient care. In these cases their dogs may need to be surrendered so they can be given a chance to go to more suitable homes. Other times, the owners just realize they can only have so many, and are forced to give away some.

Spaying and neutering can help reduce the amount of dogs in the home, so they stop reproducing. If the dogs are rescued off the streets, it's important to realize that there's a limit where the well being of the pets at some point is affected.There are rules to be aware of that limit the amount of animals living under one roof and in poor sanitary conditions.

7) Pet Illness

As mentioned in issue number 3, a pet's illness can turn up costly. As discussed, it's a good idea to provide pets with pet insurance or start a savings plan. However, some dog owners may just grow tired of treating a medical condition. At times, consulting with different vets can provide different insights and alternative therapies.

8) Personal Problems

A vast array of problems may fall under this category. Perhaps, a wife adopts a dog and the husband disapproves, or the child wants a puppy but then no longer wants to take care of it. Allergies are often a main issue with people owning dogs. It was found that some dog breeds are more likely to trigger less allergies than others-- read more. There are several many other possibilities, but perhaps a large percentage are solvable.

9) Biting

Some times, dogs bite. In some cases, depending on what triggers the biting and the extent of damage the bite causes, some dogs can be helped by consulting with a reputable behavior consultant. A certified applied animal behaviorist (CAAB) or a veterinary behaviorist can help out. In some cases of dogs biting other dogs, re-homing to a home where the dog is the only one, may help.

10) No Homes for Littermates

Last, but not least, a good portion of dogs surrendered are young puppies. The puppies are often the result of an unintentional breeding with the owner being able to find homes for them. Other times, backyard breeders may not be able to find homes as well so they drop the pups off at the shelter. In any cases, spaying and neutering is again the best option to reduce the pet population problem. If you are unable to or unwilling to spay or neuter, at least please be responsible to keep your dog well contained.

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