Friday, March 11, 2011

Surrendering a Dog

I may have a different position on this issue than others. As someone who has rescued two Shelties, I do believe that it is better to surrender a dog one is not willing to care for than to continue to make the dog suffer for sins it has not committed. This is not the position many hold. Some believe taking on a dog is a relationship that is similar to the “until death do us part” vow taken by couples at a wedding. Bailey and Katy have taught me why this can be a dangerous vision to have.

First, let me state I am a firm believer in educating people about the challenges of dog ownership, specifically of taking on a puppy. I think it is important families and individuals understand the challenges as well as the great joys that come with taking on the responsibility of a dog. What is done up front and at the time of an adoption to help people adjust is very important. Getting people help with training, obedience, and finding affordable vet care can make a rocky start a lifelong companionship. However, not everyone is cut out to be a dog owner. No amount of encouragement to research the process upfront can persuade people to do it.

Bailey was an impulse purchase by people who had no experience with puppies. He was a typical puppy. His owners had no idea it would be like bringing a baby into their home with teeth and no diapers. At four months, they had enough and found a sheltie rescue to turn him over to for placement. Some would condemn them for their actions. I was grateful. They gave us an amazing gift. You rarely find puppies in breed rescues. Most people do “hang on” to their dogs through the puppy stage. Some do emotional and sadly sometimes physical damage to a pet before determining they are not cut out to be dog owners. While it would have been preferable that they researched prior to purchasing, I am grateful that they realized they were not capable of handling his needs before neglect or abuse occurred. I am also glad that instead of dumping him at their local shelter they were responsible enough to find a breed rescue. Instead of being caged, Bailey stayed at a foster home where he was house broken and screened for placement.

We know less about Katy’s background, but while we would have missed her life, it would have been kinder if someone had acknowledged that she was more than he/she could handle before she was two. We are still working to fully housebreak Katy. Her accidents are fewer, but at two, this is a clear indication that someone failed in their duty as an owner. She was never trained to walk on a leash and was unable to respond to her name when called. We changed her name to be closer to the only word she would respond to when we brought her home.

Unlike Bailey, I do not know the specifics of Katy’s history. I am glad that she was released to rescue at two and not made to wait longer to find a home that would treat her with love, respect, and dignity. I only wish someone had made the choice earlier.

I cannot be angry with Bailey’s previous owners. They could have dumped him at the local pound. They chose to be responsible and deal with a breed rescue, which increased Bailey’s chances of finding a permanent home. This time prospective owners were screened to determine if they did understand the challenges and obstacles of owning not just a puppy, but a Sheltie puppy. I do find myself more frustrated with Katy’s owners. Her neglect is not as bad as many stories we have all read, but still clearly not necessary, when other options were available to find her a loving home.

I take my responsibility as a dog owner seriously. This is not a casual commitment entered into lightly. I see these as a death do us part relationships. However, I realize Katy and Bailey were not in healthy relationships before they came to us. Sending those dogs into a quality breed rescue was perhaps the most responsible choice their previous owners made.

I would much rather see other dogs in unhealthy or unsustainable relationships surrendered than to continue suffering out of some kind of misguided belief that the commitment cannot be broken. When dog and human are miserable finding a better home is the right choice.


  1. I completely agree. Though I can never help but worry sick about how many more puppies those owners will go through. Far too many people get the puppy, give it up, get another puppy, get tired of that breaks my heart.

    I agree 100% that breed-specific rescues are far better than the local pound. I wish they would get the publicity and support they deserve.

  2. Sadly some people fail to understand the problem. We had a family member that got a dog from the pound and had issues with their children. They failed to evaluate why there were issues and decided to adopt two large breed puppies from a breeder figuring that it was the dog not the environment that was the issue. They never trained the dogs and have had major problems. With a more significant financial investment, they were reluctant to abandon these dogs. They would have done wonderfully with a breed rescue who could have found them owners who would have taken the time to train them.

  3. I wish their was a way for everyone to be taught basic pet ownership. I always felt it should be a class you have to take in school.

    Casey was a rescue. Someone dumped her in a field. We guess because she didn't look like a normal Boxer. She was not going to make them money, so they left her for dead. At the time I was living in OK, my local Humane Society just happened to find her laying in the side of the road. She had hundreds of fly strikes, they had started to eat her skin, she was dehydrated and starving, but alive. They took her to the vet, called me and a week later I took her in.

    When I went through my divorce and moved up here with the 2 dogs, I had no job, and really not a lot of money. I was staying with my mom who had no job either. I went through a period where I did not know if I was going to get any state assistence since I voluntarily left OK, and my dogs had no food.

    I went through a Boxer organization here in MI to adopt my dogs out. I tried.


    They spent one night with their new owners and the next morning they told me to come get them. They cried all night, kept them awake, and potty of the floor.


    Did you stop to think that they were scared? Left behind by the only mom they ever knew.

    I was so angry.

    I could not get my furbabies back fast enough and I vowed that no matter how tough times get for me those are my children and they are my responsibility. So if I have to go without, which I did, to feed them, I will.

  4. I too think that surrendering a dog to a reputable rescue is far better than letting him or her grow up in an atmosphere of neglect. Unfortunately, around here the solution seems to be dropping them off at the dumpster. :(

  5. Why would they call you? That sounds like a lousy rescue organization. I had no contact with Katy or Bailey's owners. They were in foster care with people who were familiar with raising Shelties. What we know about them was told to us by the breed rescue. I am sure Katy even more challenging for her foster Mom than she was with us because she had started the process of potty training her when we got her.

    If we had a problem our contact would have been Sheltie rescue not the previous owner.

    It comes down to the quality of the organization. I really like the idea of fostering. It provides a chance for the dogs to be evaluated and gain some life skills. It provides a better chance for the dogs to get a permanent home.

    I am glad you were able to recover your dogs.

  6. The food for the dogs is one of the reasons I donate when I find places that take pet food for food pantries. Not all of them do, but I know that is one way to help people who truly care hang on to their pets.

    I also donate to the rescue we adopted from as they are finding their costs prohibitive, too. When we adopted Katy we discovered they had lost a couple of foster homes to foreclosure. People donate their time and homes, but if they loose their homes, they cannot help.

  7. Carrie it is a shame that people are so irresponsible. I have a friend who has animals dropped off on her property all the time with the foolish assumption that they can survive in the wild.

    People claim they cannot afford the adoption release fees and yet I have seen the same complainers out spending money on luxeries that could have better gone to providing for the dog. Place the dog if you do not want it and then deal with your other issues. The animal deserves that much consideration.

  8. The dogs we took in were the ones my husbands brothers could not take care of or did not want to to be truly honest. They neglected and abused them and my husband asked if we could take them off of their hands and they handed them over. My husband and I cannot have children so our dogs are our children and we love them so much. I won't go into how the dogs were treated before we took them but they were not treated good. I agree that if you cannot take care of a dog then let it go to someone who can and wants to.


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