Friday, March 8, 2013
Pet Owners in Crisis
It’s a scenario that happens far more often than anyone would like. For whatever reason—personal, lifestyle-related, or something else, pets are surrendered to Animal Friends every day.
The reasons for surrendering a pet vary. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), there are five primary reasons for pet surrenders: pet behavior changes, family allergies, changes in the family constellation (including divorce or the addition of a new family member), relocation and financial difficulties. Many pet owners find themselves in such a crisis that they find that they must surrender their pet. Although other options may exist, many are unaware of the alternatives to giving up a pet.
The crisis of animals without homes is nationwide, and shelters across the country are pressed to find humane solutions. But, solutions can be easier to find that many pet owners realize.
Pet owners who are troubled by a canine behavior problem can usually benefit by seeking the assistance of reputable trainers. Animal Friends offers training sessions and obedience classes that address a wide range of challenges, from basic manners to specific behavior problems. An advantage of attending an obedience class with your pet is the potential for camaraderie with others in a similar situation. To learn more about Animal Friends’ obedience classes, call 412.847.7071.
Sometimes a cat, dog or rabbit comes into the house and a member of the family begins to sniffle and sneeze. Many allergists now know that if a doctor tells a mild to moderate allergy sufferer to get rid of the pet, the patient may keep the pet and get rid of the doctor! Allergists and animal welfare associations alike recommend that the animal lover begin to work towards a solution by minimizing exposure to allergies. Hypoallergenic pillowcases and bedding are available to reduce distress from allergens, and washing sheets in hot water can lead to relief. Brushing your pet outside while wearing a mask will minimize shedding and the release of dander in the house. The allergy sufferer should not sleep with the pet, and his or her bedroom can be kept off limits to the pet. Hardwood floors and washable throw rugs can replace wall-to-wall carpet. Using HEPA air cleaners, available at home stores such as Lowes and Home Depot, can reduce the presence of allergens in the house. Finally, the allergy sufferer may benefit from immunotherapy or allergy shots to reduce reactions to allergens such as animal dander. Of course, you will want to consult your doctor regarding any of these suggestions.
Sometimes parents feel that they must give up their pet when a new baby is born. It’s important to remember that new families are not alone when trying to fit their pet into a changing family constellation. This is a situation that should be carefully considered, as many pets prove to be more adaptable than their owners expect. The folks at Animal Friends as well as other agencies in the community can offer great advice to help the pet fit into a changing family.
Changes in our lives sometimes necessitate a move. Prior to giving up a pet, investigate safe and cost-effective strategies for moving a pet along with you. Pet-friendly apartments are becoming easier and easier to find. Often, a landlord will allow a pet with a reasonable pet deposit. Major cities often have agencies which will help a pet owner find pet-friendly housing.
In many cases, pet owners have several options besides surrendering the pet who has been with them through thick and thin. Of course, there will still be situations in which keeping a pet is not possible. We hope, however, that those who must consider surrendering their pets will know that they are not alone and that the staff at Animal Friends can point them towards resources that can help.