I was always an animal lover and I don’t think the concept of rehoming a dog, or any other companion animal (pet), ever really crossed my mind. For the last few years it has been on my mind a lot. Let me begin by saying that I am not against responsible rehoming - a decision made with the best interests of the whole family in mind, especially the animal in question, to seek out a more appropriate home, not selling or abandoning family pets. In many cases, I don’t think it means a person loves their pet any less and perhaps they love them even more by being willing to make an unselfish decision to rehome their pet so that they can have a better life. Often times, I see pets being rehomed because people are moving, don’t have time, or are experiencing behavior problems from lack of training. Pets are a commitment and it’s our responsibility, as parents and guardians, to ensure their needs are met. Sometimes that might mean giving up something in your own life, and sometimes that might mean ensuring their needs are met by someone else, in a new home. If a person isn’t willing to work to make the relationship work, I would rather they rehome their pets, than abuse or neglect them. I have seen many people that I actually wish would rehome their pets! There are quite a few dogs in my neighborhood that I would like to confiscate and rehome - dogs living in cages outside, or on tie outs in the front yard. That’s no life for a dog.
I get that sometimes people end up with a dog that is just not the right fit for their lifestyle, or maybe their situation changes and it is no longer a good match. You often don’t know a lot about a pet you are bringing into your home. Sometimes you don’t know that they aren’t the right fit until the honeymoon phase is over and you discover things like that they hate kids and you have FIVE. Often, it was the wrong choice from the beginning. That border collie/lab puppy was oh so cute you just had to have it, but you live in a studio apartment in the city and don’t have time to keep a working dog busy all day long. Maybe you just bonded with a pet that you knew might not be the right fit for your lifestyle, but you couldn’t resist. That is why it is so important to make an informed decision in the beginning about what kind of pet is right for you. It’s important to be honest with yourself about your lifestyle, your resources, why you want a pet, what you want to do together and even what your future plans are. There are millions of wonderful pets out there looking for homes so there is a right one, or two, or three, for everyone.
I’m sure all dogs have an issue or two. I have yet to meet the perfect specimen, because what is perfect for one person, won’t be perfect for the next. Some people are equipped to deal with separation anxiety, but couldn’t handle a talker. Some don’t mind people aggression, as long as the dog doesn’t jump up or pull on a leash. Maybe you’re okay with lots of kisses and a prey drive, but can’t have a dog that needs a lot of grooming. You just have to find your kind of perfect. I never would have set out to adopt an Australian shepherd. They are beautiful, wonderful dogs and I absolutely LOVE them, but I lived in a small house, on a small lot, in suburbia, and I worked outside of the home M-F 8-5. That’s not exactly the ideal setup for a herding dog. Had I applied to the organization as an outsider, I am sure they wouldn’t have adopted Kona to me. I wouldn’t have adopted him to me! Luckily they knew me though, and they knew that I wouldn’t even ask to adopt him if I didn’t feel like I could adequately provide for him. And he wasn’t your typical Aussie. He was older (5/6) and injured, so he wasn’t exactly bursting at the seams to go herd sheep all day. I admit I am a bit of a hypocrite for ending up with Kona, but that tends to happen in animal rescue, I think. Really what it all boils down to is that I just fell in love and I was ready to fight for him from the day I got him.
I only considered rehoming Kona because I thought it might be in his best interest. We had an appointment with Dr. Pachel at The Animal Behavior Clinic in June, 2012. It was an expensive visit, but it was invaluable to our relationship and I would do it again in a heartbeat. It helped me understand Kona as an individual and it helped me determine what I should do, and what I should avoid, to make our lives better. More importantly, it reassured me that the behavioral issues I was seeing in Kona were not solely my responsibility and would likely resurface with others that he bonded to. I would recommend a veterinary behaviorist consult to anyone having challenging behavioral issues, like aggression or anxiety, with their pet. It’s an investment up front, but it saves so much time, money and heartache in the end. In the Portland area we have The Animal Behavior Clinic and Synergy Behavior Solutions that I know of off the top of my head, and I would recommend them both!
I like to think of myself as a pragmatic person, and I am well aware that many people don't have the time, money, or other resources needed to keep their pets and that just breaks my heart. I recently conducted a very unscientific research project on Craigslist, where I tracked the reasons people were parting with their pets. Of those that listed a reason for rehoming, over 50% indicated that it was lack of time or behavioral issues that led to their decision. Perhaps those were just excuses, but I think that in some cases, people really are considering their pets' needs and might not rehome them if they had more support. I wish I could wave a magic wand and ensure that no one had rehome their pets simply because they couldn't afford it, or because they didn't have the time to provide the training and exercise needed to keep their pet happy. I think pets are such an important part of our lives. In addition to unconditional love and companionship, they also improve our physical & mental health, and there should be more programs available to support families that need help caring for their pet's physical and mental needs, not just food and vet care. I wish more nonprofits could allocate resources and funding to keeping pets in their homes, like subsidizing dog walkers, training classes and doggy daycare! Perhaps one day I can start one that does just that (please let me know of any you are aware of out there!). I know it doesn’t bring in money like the sale of a puppy does, and I know that once a person drops a pet off at the shelter, or contacts a rescue for rehoming, they have pretty much made up their minds. Unfortunately, there will always be a need for shelters and rescues, but I’d like to see more of an intervention effort before it gets to the point of surrender. I wish I was rich (or even making enough to pay the bills), so that I could hook everyone up with free dog walks, enrichment and training all day long! Perhaps I will get there someday, but in the meantime, I will still do as much as I can, when I can, in a grassroots effort to help keep pets happy, healthy & in good homes!
I have to vent about the “rehoming” situations that I have not yet come to accept - the people on Craigslist and Facebook, or any other place, that are “rehoming” their young pup that they neglected to train or socialize, so now they have a full grown dog, with puppy manners, that they want $400+ to rehome. That makes me so angry! There is also no shortage of people with senior pets that they have had their whole lives and are now rehoming for one reason or another. Those just break my heart. This week, there was a lady in a Facebook group selling her Australian shepherd. To be fair, she doesn’t claim to be rehoming. It was actually posted in a buy/sell group. It makes me sick. Puppies aren’t products! He is a beautiful dog, of course – purebred with a half-moon eye. He is also 6 months old, not even house trained, has been living outside for the last month, hasn’t had his rabies vaccination, and she is asking $750. SEVEN HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS. I’ve been so angry about it for days, but I know it happens all day long. If you really care about finding your dog a good home, you would not be selling it, especially considering it is essentially a full grown puppy, so the new owner gets none of the benefits of having a puppy they can socialize, but all of the downsides, like potty training and house manners!
And now there's another Aussie for $800 :/