Why Are Shelters So Overrun?

Cat in KennelAll across the world, animal shelters are overflowing with animals that are in need of good homes. But how did so many get there? It can be hard for us dedicated pet lovers to understand how someone could just surrender his or her companion. When a pet ends up in a shelter, it is not their fault.

Most Common Reasons Pets End up in Shelters

Lack of Training

Many people get a dog without realizing how much training is involved. Dogs do not come trained. They need diligent leaders who are willing to put in the hours setting rules, boundaries, and limitations, and spending time teaching them commands. Puppies do not come housebroken and must be taught to go to the bathroom outside. People fail to take this into account when bringing home a dog and ignore problems, which often lead to behavioral issues. Shelters are filled with dogs that have bitten, lack potty training, socialization and obedience issues, all of which could have been prevented through proper training.

Lifestyle Changes

People lose their jobs, get divorced, have a new baby, or encounter difficulties with their health. These are some of the reasons pets often end up in shelters. A person may become overwhelmed by their pet when they have a new baby, may be unable to attend to their pet(s) if they are unhealthy themselves, or find themselves too stressed to pay attention to a pet because of a demanding new job.

Cost of Pet Ownership

Between vet bills, boarding, buying food, toys, and grooming, pets can be expensive. Many people underestimate the amount of money that owning a pet will involve, especially if there are special needs or health issues involved. Old pets and pets with injuries and other health-related issues require more money, time, patience, and attention than healthy pets. Some people make the decision to get rid of the pet versus continue to care for them once an illness or ailment arises.

Sometimes people move and cannot take their pets with them. The home that they relocate to might not allow pets. They may be moving in with a roommate who is allergic to a dog or cat, or simply doesn’t want them in his or her place. There are also cases of people moving into a new house and not wanting to bring their pet along with them so as to keep it clean.

Not Enough Time for a Pet

Our lives are busy, and having pet requires making time to properly care for them. One of the main reasons that pets end up in shelters is that their people get busy and start to prioritize other things above the pet, thus neglecting its needs. Often, children who pushed their parents to get them a pet by promising to take care of it be come interested in other things, thus leaving the responsibility of the pet care to their overwhelmed parents.

Too Many Animals in the Home

Dogs and cats are cute and people can adopt them impulsively. However, when there are too many animals in the home, it can become a problem. People that fail to spay or neuter their pets may end up with a whole litter and find themselves with nowhere to place the animals. A dog may be fighting with a cat in the house or may not be getting along with the other dogs in the pack, thus resulting in it being sent to a shelter.


People may develop an allergy to their pet, have a significant other move in who is allergic, or may have a child that is born with or develops a pet allergy.

Ways You Can Prevent Pets From Ending Up in Shelters

Think, Before Brining a New Pet Home

Do your research and factor in whether or not you’ll be able to afford the pet, spend the necessary amount of time with them, and meet their mental and physical needs before agreeing to get one. Make sure nobody in the household is allergic before you bring it home, and be responsible and get your new pet spayed or neutered.

Puppies and kittens are cute and are often purchased or adopted on impulse without much thought going into what is involved as far as training and care. Those who get animals without realizing what they are committing to are the first to abandon them.

Tackle Behavior Issues

Remember that when you adopted your pet, it became your responsibility. Whether you are still in the process of trying to balance and discipline your pet, or you’re close to giving up, putting in some extra work may change your decision to relinquish your pet. Contact a local dog training facility and talk to them about the issues you are having with your pet. Schedule time and specific training to try and improve their (and your) behavior.

Consider Other Alternatives to Surrendering Your Pet to a Shelter

If you have a pet(s) and experience a lifestyle change, try your best to work through it without leaving them at a shelter. If you have a dog and find yourself with less time on your hands, consider putting them into daycare or hiring a dog walker to give it some exercise and attention during the day. If you move and are unable to take your pet with you, or cannot afford the costs anymore, try to find responsible new caretakers for your pet. If you develop an allergy, try bathing the animal in hypo allergenic shampoos to alleviate your condition. If you find a stray on the street, remember it’s not yours to give away. Call and notify BCAC right away. They may already have a concerned owner’s name and number.

If You Must Give Up Your Pet

Whether you are forced to give away a beloved companion due to moving or lifestyle change, or you have come to the conclusion that you are ill-equipped to care for your pet, you can take responsibility to improve their life by finding them an appropriate new home.

Getting Your Pet Ready

Make sure that your pet is transition-ready with veterinary care, is spayed or neutered, and freshly groomed.
Checklist of Homing Needs

Write down an all-inclusive list of requirements for your pet’s ideal new home. Once you have written all the items you can think of, go through and determine what is non-negotiable for your pet’s unique needs, and write an ad using those top “must-haves.”


Pre-existing, trusted connections like your friends, neighbors, local veterinarians, and social communities are a good foundation to begin your search. Once you’ve put the word out in these venues, you can also advertise in less familiar places by putting up flyers in local businesses and ads in small and large local publications. Online you can find pet home-matching sites like Petfinder.com. Keep in mind that it’s not only what your pet needs, but what prospective adopters will be looking for, so highlight your animal’s best traits in the ad as well.

Interviewing Prospects

Contact your local pet rescue for the questions they use to screen prospective adopters. Interview prospects over the phone first, so you can eliminate poor matches. Once you determine that a prospect is worth meeting, it’s safest and easiest for both parties to find a neutral location to introduce your dog, like a park or pet-friendly coffee shop or café with outdoor seating. If the prospect has children, it is best that they come so you can observe how they get along. If there’s potential, consider conducting a second interview in the prospective adopter’s home so you can see how your dog responds to the environment.

Always listen to your own instincts and don’t fall into the trap of being desperate to rush giving away your pet. Never give your pets away “free to the right person.” Your animal is valuable, so find a reasonable price and stick to your guns

By doing your part, you will help to ensure that fewer dogs and cats end up confused and abandoned in overcrowded animal shelters.

This information was taken in part from the Cesar's Way website.