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Surrendering a Pet to a Shelter vs. Euthanasia

By Leilah's Mom

I have seen so many horror stories of animals going into shelters and never leaving.  Many, many pets are comparatively unadoptable, or have very little chance of adoption into a suitable home.  For many of these pets, euthanasia with loved family members present is much, much more preferable to waiting on death row in a shelter.   The reality is that the vast majority of pets who are surrendered to shelters do not get adopted, the statistics are staggering.  If an owner cannot find an appropriate home, then euthanasia might be more humane for the animal than surrendering the pet to a shelter.  These animals would include the disabled, elderly, animals with temperament problems (after several sincere tries at  training with professionals have failed), and animals with serious illnesses or health problems.  There are also liability issues for aggressive dogs being adopted out.

Many people turn in animals like these hoping that they will get good homes, and avoid the reality of what will happen to their "best friend".   It might be easier on their conscience, but it is usually a false hope and their pet suffers for it, sometimes horribly, once the owner has left. Often the pet has never known any other life (especially for elderly ones), and is suddenly thrown into the terror of a shelter with strangers, only to die there. The resources for  shelters usually just don't stretch that far to take care of these animals  when animals with much better chances at adoption are being destroyed.  Even "no kill" shelters will often not deal with problem or "unadoptable" animals, and the "no kill" policies only extend to animals more easily adopted. Whether in a shelter or rescue, they are often destroyed, sometimes immediately, usually in a noisy, fearful environment.  In some shelters, owner surrenders are not even put up for adoption, just put down right away. You can check with the individual shelter about the particular situation, and it is crucial that you be brutally honest about the condition of your animal, behavior, etc.  Put your own feelings and pride aside for the sake of your animal. If they tell you that your animal probably won't get adopted, please consider euthanasia.

Take responsibility for your pet, even if you cannot keep him or her. Try your hardest to find a suitable, permanent home first.  If you can't, please provide that last ultimate act of love for your pet if he or she seriously doesn't have much chance of being adopted.   Take him to your own vet, stay with him or her to the end, as painful as that might be for you. It's the last great gift of love you can give. No one should die alone or with strangers if possible.

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