Don't Abandon Unwanted Pets!
Let's say you're driving down the road one day to run an errand of some sort, when you spot the car ahead of you slowing down and finally pulling over to the side of the road. You are slightly annoyed and curious as you responsibly adjust your own speed and slow down, as well. Maybe his car ran out of gas, or maybe the driver just wanted to take a quick peek under the hood to make sure everything is in tact. You slow down your vehicle enough to safely survey the possible problem, ready to offer a helping hand if needed.
But instead, the driver's car door cracks open, and you spot a small adorable pup scamper onto the sidewalk, looking puzzled and terrified. Before you have time to let the situation sink into your mind, the door quickly shuts, and the driver speeds off without the cute little puppy. As horrible as it is, this is typically how people get rid of their unwanted pets when they don't want to take the extra mile to take them to an animal shelter, or if they foolishly believe that "dropping them off" in a nice neighborhood will give them a better chance of survival. But the truth is, abandoning an animal in this way often leads to their starvation, dehydration, and vulnerability to the dangers of the road, which results in the likelihood that they will get hit by a car, causing injury, suffering, and death. They may not be able to find adequate shelter from the weather, or they just might get picked up by Animal Control after all, and likely be euthanized at an animal shelter. The moment you turn away from your pet, get in that car, and drive away, you are leaving your pet completely vulnerable and alone in the big world, when it was your responsibility to make your pet feel safe, secure, and loved in the big world. Anything is welcome to happen to your pet at this point, and when you stick your key in the ignition, that is your signature of consent.
The Best Way to Get Rid of a Pet
You acknowledge that for whatever reason, you need to get rid of a pet, but it is still your responsibility to make sure you honor that responsibility as a loving pet owner. You want to get rid of your pet in the most loving and caring way possible.
One good option would be to give your pet to a family member or friend that you trust will take good care of it and love it. This way, you are not "dumping your pet." You are simply transferring your pet from one pair of loving arms to another, and optionally, you can still visit your pet from time to time to check on the status of the love and care it's receiving. Make sure that the soon-to-be new owner of your pet shares your same views and values when it comes to caring for an animal. Make sure they genuinely love animals and have the resources necessary to keep the pet well-fed, healthy, and groomed. It's better to pass on your unwanted pet to a friend or family member whom you are in regular contact with. Encourage the new owner to report any problems of the pet to you so that you both can find a new owner for the pet if the need arises.
If you can't find any trusted family members or friends who will care for your pet, keep your eyes peeled for any obvious animal-lovers in your area, like your neighborhood "cat lady" or the family of the little boy who loved to play ball with your dog.
Choose the Owners Carefully
If you are unable to find any trusted friends, family members, cat ladies, and pet-friendly families, take the dilemma to your social media websites, and be sure to "tag" the names of the "friends" who live near you. Those are the likely candidates. Post a photo of your pet in the post and try to include as many details about the pet as you feel is necessary, including: sex, breed, whether or not they are housebroken, spayed/neutered, age, and vaccination history. And of course, highlight all the best traits of the animal, such as "friendly" or "loves to cuddle," but be honest. Remember that you are looking for someone who will love and accept your pet for who it truly is. Be honest but positive about the pet's negative traits as well.
When someone steps up and shows interest in being your pet's new parent, arrange a small meeting with the candidate so that you can get a feel of who they are and what they are about. For your own safety, make sure it is someone you know from school, work, church, through a mutual friend or family member, etc...and become better acquainted with them for your pet's sake. Try to make the meeting at the place where your pet will be living so that you can assess the cleanliness and spaciousness of the new home. Look for other "good signs" like cat posters on the walls or photos of their current or previous pets. Politely ask the candidate if you can see where the pet will be spending most of its time. This is also the time to discuss the negative traits of your pet, but positive solutions to fix the problem. The parent-to-be should be willing to make the effort to fix any problems that may occur with the pet!
What Makes a Good Pet Owner?
A good pet owner is compassionate, loving, and responsible up until the very end of their pet parenthood. This means that when they have to give up their pet, they make sure the pet goes to another permanent and loving owner who is equally compassionate and responsible. They also need to understand that their new pet may show signs of separation anxiety for the first couple of weeks without their previous owner whom they have lived with for a long time. The new pet owner should not be too demanding for the pet to show them affection or be active right away. Gentle petting, a cozy place to rest, a few toys, and plenty of food and water should be given. Yes, they may have accidents on the carpet or outside the litter box at first. They may hide. They may eat little. They may even snap their teeth. Be patient and loving because these are signs of a pet experiencing anxiety.
Make sure the new parent has all the tools necessary to properly care for your pet: litterbox, dog leash, collars, food bowls, toys, etc...before handing the pet over to them.