Change. It is a reliably constant feature of our lives, sometimes coming in incrementally small, but manageable, doses over time; or sometimes in a big way and all at once. Each year, significant changes in the lives of dog owners or in a dog’s behavior result in owners surrendering a dog to the shelter and rescue system — adding to the overcrowding that already exists. In some cases, these are dogs that have been living with their owners for years. It is an unhappy scenario that might be avoided with some advance planning or with the help of a few available resources.
Common Reasons For Surrendering a Dog
- Moving. The U.S. Census Bureau has calculated that the average American moves 11 times in a lifetime. Transitioning to a new home in town or to a distant city with a pet may be difficult if financial or other considerations require significant downsizing or if the best available options for a new place to live involve rental properties with restrictions on pets. If there is an urgency to relocate, such as an immediate need to find a new job, an owner’s ability to carefully consider more options might be limited.
- Family Changes. The addition of a new baby into a home, particularly where no other children have been present, can alter the relationship the dog has with its owner and be the source of new and unwanted behavior issues. A death or a decline in the health or mobility of the sole or primary caregiver for a dog creates a need to find others to care for the pet.
- Time. A significant work or travel schedule change may make it substantially more difficult or impossible to adequately care for a dog without the assistance of others.
- Money. A loss of income or unexpected medical costs for a dog’s emergency treatment, disease or other illness may suddenly make a pet unaffordable for an owner.
- Behavior. Some dogs are surrendered because they develop unwanted behavioral issues such as jumping, excessive barking, house soiling, or aggression and the owner lacks the interest or ability to commit to a training program for the dog.
Plan for the Unexpected
At the time a person seeks to adopt a dog from Blue Dog Rescue, the name and contact information for an emergency guardian is identified. For a new dog owner, thinking about an emergency guardian is probably also a good time to begin thinking about who might provide for the care and companionship the dog needs in the future if the owner is unable to do so. That is a choice that can be revisited later if circumstances change.
Pet Restrictions on Rental Properties
There are numerous online resources that identify dog-friendly rental properties. For example, the website Apartments.com provides a search filter specifically for this purpose. In the Austin area more than 15,000 dog-friendly apartments are listed.
Help with Dog Behavioral Issues
The website for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) provides an excellent overview of behavioral issues for dogs including those that may specifically arise with the arrival of a new baby.
A physical check up with a veterinarian is a good first step to see if a medical condition may be the cause of a particular behavioral issue. When further assistance is needed, there are excellent people and organizations in the Austin area with substantial training and experience in implementing customized plans to improve behavior. These include:
The Canine Center for Training and Behavior
11400 290 West Austin, TX 78737
Phone: (512) 721-8496
Dog Boys Dog Ranch
2615 Crystal Bend Dr., Pflugerville, TX 78660
Phone: (512) 251-7600
Phone: (512) 710-6064
Pets Assisting the Lives of Seniors (PALS)
For elderly or disabled homebound individuals who no longer have consistent daytime assistance from others, the Pets Assisting the Lives of Seniors (PALS) program in Austin delivers free dog food on a monthly basis and provides access to, and payment for, veterinary care. PALS works with two other non-profit organizations, Emancipet and the Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation (TVMF) to help with this work. TVMF recruits partner veterinarians to participate in the program and donates the vaccines, heartworm preventative, and flea preventative that PALS pets receive.
The Rehome Project
If an owner can no longer care for a dog and neither a family member nor friend can be found to help, there is another alternative to surrendering a dog to an unknown future in the shelter and rescue system. The non-profit organization, Adopt-a-Pet.com, with support from The Petco Foundation, has created an online program to help owners place their dog directly with another home. The Rehome Project allows an owner to create a pet profile, share that information with others interested in adopting a pet, and review adopter applications. The program provides screening guidance with each application and tips for conducting a safe and effective meeting with an adopter. The adoption fee paid online by the adopter is forwarded by the Rehome project to the rescue group or shelter of the owner’s choice.
What You Can Do to Help Dogs in the Austin Area
Your ideas and individual efforts can help create a greater awareness of the resources and options that are available to dog owners as an alternative to surrendering a dog to the shelter and rescue system. In the broader context of helping dogs in the Austin area, consider becoming a volunteer for Blue Dog Rescue.
We are a 100% volunteer-run organization where the donation of time is of great value. We do not have a shelter facility. Instead, we rely on volunteer foster families to care for our dogs while we find permanent homes for them.
If you have a special skill, talent, or available resources, we can certainly use your help. Fostering, fundraising, event planning/coordination, graphic design/marketing/PR and social media skills are all needed volunteer areas. Please view our events page to see if there is an upcoming event of interest to you. For more information about volunteering, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.