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Being a Responsible Pet Owner: The Cold Hard Facts

When most people make the decision to get a pet – it can be more of an impulse than a well-thought-out decision. People don’t always think ahead into the future and realize that owning a pet is a long-term commitment.  When a rescue doesn’t do a good job of  pre-adoption counseling, this can lead to pets being returned.  If dogs are returned, then that’s one less dog on the street we are able to save.  This is an issue that we, as rescuers, need to work very hard to eliminate.

I think it is so important to educate people before they adopt a pet to make them realize that this animal is with them for the rest of its life, which can be as long as 20 years in some cases.   It will become a part of their family and should be treated as such.  If you had 2 kids, and had to move – wouldn’t you move into a kid-friendly place? Why should your pet be any different?

Say you’ve already got two kids, and you decide to add a third. You don’t get rid of one of the other two because it will be too much work, do you? No. You knew having a third child was going to be a lot of work, but you decided to do it anyway.  Why then, would you get rid of your pet because you are having another child? If you thought having a dog and three kids was too much work, and you’ve always had your heart set on having three kids – then DON’T GET A DOG.

Animals require medical care and upkeep just like people do.  The average dog costs about $700 per year to own.  I understand economical circumstances are tough right now, but just know that when you give up your dog, the odds of him/her finding a new family are slim.  If they are surrendered to a kill shelter, they will more than likely be euthanized.  I know that when people drop their pet off at a shelter like that, they leave with a happy thought in their head that their former pet will live his life with a new family but that is more than likely just not going to happen. Twenty three thousand animals are euthanized each year in St. Louis alone – that’s 44% of all animals that enter a shelter each year.  Your pet is not exempt from that percentage.

These are cold hard facts that every rescue should make an effort to talk to their potential adopters about when they are adopting out an animal. It’s the responsible thing to do.

For more information about euthanasia statistics, visit the St. Louis Petlover Coalition’s “No Unwanted Litters” campaign or the Animal World Network.

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