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Why do people surrender their dogs to shelters?

Why do people surrender their dogs? Many reasons are valid and are done for the best interests of the animal concerned.

But many times unfortunately they are just selfish reasons given by people surrendering their dogs to shelters.

Why do people surrender their dogs
What Did I Do?

Dogs Trust Facts And Figures

Dogs Trust is the UK’s largest dog welfare charity with a network of 21 rehoming centres across the UK and Ireland, which care for over 15,000 dogs every year.

In 2016 33,000 calls were made to the Dogs Trust Contact Centre about handing over an unwanted dog. What’s more, one of the most common reasons given for handovers is that a dog has one or more behaviours that owners find it difficult to live with. This finding is backed up by UK wide research which identified behaviour problems as the most common reason for dogs to be given up for rehoming. 

Research has estimated that 130,000 dogs come into UK rehoming charities each year. It’s also devastating thatbehaviour problems are the most common reason for dogs under 2 years of age to be put to sleep by vets.
Recent research has also highlighted the extent to which dog owners in the UK report problem behaviours in their dogs. For example, 49% of owners say that their dog shows behavioural signs of fear when they hear loud noises. Plus over a fifth of over 14,5000 owners in a survey told researchers that their dog showed some signs of aggression (e.g. barking, lunging or growling) at other dogs when out for a walk. In the same survey, five percent of owners said their dog had shown aggression towards unfamiliar people when they were out of the house. 

One of our biggest welfare concerns, is the number of dogs which are anxious when left home alone. Research suggests that 45% owners leave their dogs every day, and 28% dogs are left for over four hours. Worryingly, 13% of owners say that their dog has separation anxiety – where they bark, howl, toilet or cause destruction when left at home.

However, this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg, because owners are generally not aware of problems because they are not there! More research is needed, but a recent study which filmed dogs remotely suggested that as many as 85% of dogs were anxious when left.

There are an estimated 8.5 million dogs in the UK, with 24% of households owning one or more dogs. This means that problem behaviours are occurring in millions of UK dogs. At Dogs Trust we want to do something about this. We care for and rehabilitate dogs coming into our centres with problem behaviours, but we also passionately believe that prevention is the best solution in the long term. 

Dogs Trust School

Top Stupid Reasons Given for Surrendering a Dog

  • I won a free holiday and I couldn’t take my dogs with me
  • I’m a vegetarian but he always wanted to eat meat
  • I got him as a Secret Santa present
  • She was too friendly and wanted to greet every dog and human we met on a walk
  • He was panting too much
  • He didn’t like it when we played dress up
  • She sleeps in her own bed at night – I thought she would want to sleep in my bed

As the silly season approaches (Christmas) more dogs will be brought into homes across the country only to be given up soon after the holiday finishes. More thought and consideration should be put into the longevity and consequences of your decision to get a dog.

Put More Thought Into Getting A Dog

Putting more thought into getting a dog, research the breeds you are thinking of bringing into your home.

One reason that really grates is the teacup type dogs bought for no other reason than social standing. The reason given for surrender ?

It no longer fits in my handbag.

Things To Consider Before Getting A Dog.

Having a dog does change your homes structure, it alters your lifestyle and can at times cause stress and strain on your relationship with a partner or even more so with other members of your family.

The dog needs walks, toileting and exercise every day. Some high drive breeds need at least 3-4 hours of walking, running and play.

The cost of feeding a dog, the cost of veterinary services and then there is what to do with your dog if you want a holiday. Do you take him with you on dog friendly holidays or bear the cost of kennelling while you are away?

Why do people surrender their dogs?

There are of course legitimate reasons why people surrender there dogs, changes in their personal circumstances, such as housing, loss of income, working life changes and the list goes on.

If just one person sees this article and it causes them to re-consider getting a dog then I am happy knowing that at least one dog was saved from a terrible ordeal.

More stupid reasons given at shelters.

  • A family had four dogs and didn’t want to care for them all, so they got rid of Maxi because she was the oldest.
  • Cat returned because its black hair was sticking on the white couch.
  • Cat returned on its first day in new home because it hid under the bed
  • It outgrew its tank
  • “I didn’t know how much work it was”
  • Guinea Pig pees too much
  • Got rid of the old dog because the new dog they got doesn’t get along with the old dog
  • Doesn’t match the furniture
  • My wife and I are retiring and cat doesn’t fit into our lifestyle
  • New girlfriend doesn’t like the dog
  • Dog returned to the shelter because it was afraid to get into the car.
  • 10-year-old dog surrendered to shelter because family was replacing old carpet with new flooring.
  • Owner redecorates and surrendered the dog because it did not match the new look. She was sure the dog would find a new home because she was purebred
  • Surrendered dog because he stole a turkey off the counter
  • Redid the back yard and didn’t want dog to ruin the grass
  • “This dog keeps wanting to be close to me. I can’t stand it following me all the time”


If for any reason you do need to surrender your dog at least be responsible

Taking your dog to a local rescue centre will give you the peace of mind that your dog will be fully cared for until a new home is found

At Battersea we fully understand that circumstances can change and respect how much of a difficult but responsible decision it is to bring your dog to us. Rescue centres are not there to judge and only have the dog’s best interest in mind 

Rescue centres have the capacity to ensure your dog goes to the best possible home – our thorough rehoming process means we can ensure they are rehomed with the perfect new family

No matter how desperate the situation is, we strongly advise against leaving your animal anywhere to fend for themselves if you can no longer care for them. This would be very stressful for your dog, there is no guarantee they would be found and they may fall into the wrong hands. It also makes it much harder when dogs are brought to us with no history as we have no indication of their past which can slow down the rehoming process while we get to know them.

Battersea dogs home

As can be seen by this list it’s not just dogs that suffer from stupid reasons for surrender.

Do you have any thoughts or comments? share in the comments section.

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