Why I Can’t Judge Everyone Whose Surrendered a Pet
I don’t judge everyone that’s surrendered a pet – I’ve done it too.
Now I bet that changed your opinion of me at least a little, and what sort of pet owner I could possibly be. But please read on before you judge.
The Conversations We Have About Surrendering a Pet
I don’t know what’s going on lately but there’s been a huge amount of discussions going around about owners surrendering their pets. You know the ones where we hear that he ‘surrendered his dog because of allergies.’ And yes, my first gut reaction is so say to myself ‘I would never do that’ or ‘that’s horrible,’ but then I think back to the day I was faced with that dilemma myself.
All of the conversations I’ve seen tend to be with a bunch of people that are into animal advocacy, and they generally end up with 99% of people coming to the conclusion that surrendering a pet = evil person.
And while I hate hearing a lot of the excuses that people use for surrendering their pet I have been on the other side. I’m not willing to automatically equate every owner who surrenders a pet to being evil.
I had to surrender my own dog years ago, and it’s something that haunts me to this day. But when it comes to these conversations we have about surrendering a pet people like me keep quiet. We don’t share our own stories, but maybe we should start.
Working with rescues & shelters I’ve seen both sides of the issue. I’ve heard owners surrendering their dogs for ridiculous reasons such as “he chewed up my curtains,” but I’ve also seen plenty on the other side. The owners who are desperate for help, ones who reach out and are willing to try anything in their power to be able to keep their pets.
And yes, I tend to hear more about owners surrendering dogs for seemingly silly reasons rather than those desperate for help. And I believe that’s precisely why we often have such a knee jerk response of ‘what a terrible human being’ as soon as the word surrender is mentioned.
But then there’s people like me, a dog blogger who just admitted that I’m one of those ‘evil people.’ People you might be shocked to find out have surrendered a pet.
The Time I Had to Surrender My Own Dog
Many years ago when I was 12 we lost our home in a fire. Not just a simple the garage burnt down type of fire, it was a your house is totaled kind of fire.
I was 12 so many of the details regarding insurance and the like were completely foreign to me. In time we did end up getting another home, but waiting on insurance is not a quick process. What I do know, and remember quite vividly, is that and all of a sudden my mother and I, along with our dog Joey no longer had a place to call home.
The only positive to come out the whole situation was a quick blurb in the paper that called me a hero, crediting me with saving my family by getting us all out in time. So at least that meant I got a few high fives rather than having to awkwardly explain to everyone at school why I started showing up in ill fitting sweat suits for awhile.
It sucks losing your home, and it sucks losing everything you’ve ever owned.
So there we were, my mother and me, and our little Lab mix Joey. No real home anymore, not a lot of money, and not really knowing what to do. So the decision was made that we should surrender our dog.
I’d be lying if I said this doesn’t tear me up to this day, knowing that we had to “get rid of” our beloved dog. It does, and I’m sure it always will. But unfortunately sometimes shit happens and there isn’t an easy way out.
Not everyone has the money to just go out and buy a new house. And not everyone has a family that’s willing to take you and your pet in for x amount of time. Not everyone has the ability to wait around trying to find a place that’s both affordable and willing to accept a large dog.
Now Joey was about a year old when this happened, and he was such a happy go lucky sort of dog. In my heart I knew that the right family would come along & love him as much as we had – but that didn’t really make it easier. It was a small comfort to the trauma of losing both your home & dog in the same week.
We ended up taking Joey to the Michigan Humane Society under the promise that we would have to find a plan B if he didn’t end up getting adopted there. But much to my relief (and sadness at realizing that he was really gone) he was adopted 2 days later.
Why I Can’t Judge Everyone That Surrenders a Pet
Sometimes people end up with a dog with serious behavioral problems. And sometimes horrible tings happen beyond your control, and being able to take care of yourself and your pets may no longer be feasible.
So while I understand the negative reactions to a lot of the silly reasons people surrender their pets I’m cautious to lump everyone whose done so together.
This is why you’ll never see my say things like “I would never surrender my own pet,” or “anyone who surrenders a pet is heartless.” I’ve been there, I’ve done it, and it’s not something I take lightly.
Now don’t get me wrong – things like “my dog chewed up my door so I’m getting rid of him” happen, and they do piss me off. But I also know that for every 10 horrible stories we hear about animal surrender there are those like mine, or those of people who have been able to keep their pets after reaching out for help.
But we don’t hear about those stories, those aren’t the ones getting shared like crazy, we just hear about the bad ones.
So when I see all these conversations about surrendering a pet I tend to read and just keep my mouth shut, but I can’t help and wonder if there’s others out there like me who find the comment “everyone who surrenders a pet is evil” a bit hurtful. If so this is for you – I want you to know I don’t think you’re evil. I’ve been in the situation of having to make that heart breaking decision, and it’s not something I’d wish on anyone else.
I understand that surrendering a pet is a touchy subject, and I understand that the overpopulation of shelters is horrible. But I also understand that there’s some people out there that have had to surrender a pet for serious reasons.
So while I hate hearing about dogs being surrendered as much as anyone else I can’t just automatically judge them. A few of them are probably just like me. People who would have never considered doing such a thing unless something beyond their control happened or something they truly can’t fix happened.
I still occasionally wake up shaking from nightmares where flames are rushing towards me, and I still wake up with tears in my eyes remembering my dear little Joey. It’s not something I want to relive, but certain events don’t just go away, no matter how much you wish they would.
And I’d be lying if I said I’m not hurt a little every time I see the comments “I’d never surrender my dog” or “These people are heartless.” I understand where those comments are coming from, but please remember that on occasion there is a valid reason for surrendering a pet.
The fact that I’m one of those “evil people” who surrendered a pet bothers me. But the comments themselves aren’t what really hurts – the memories of actually losing my beloved dog is what really breaks my heart. I think about my dear little Joey quite often, and I can only hope that he ended up in a home that loved him as much as we did.