Friday, December 13, 2013

The Worst Time of Year

Dogs and cats are turned over to rescue every day.  It sucks.  It sucks even more when it's done in the holiday season.

I get it.  (Actually I don't, but whatever.) Let's examine the mindset of the kind of person who would turn a pet over to rescue.  The holidays are a busy and stressful time of year. If you have a pet that isn't fitting your lifestyle, that lack of a bond sticks out like a sore thumb.  The pet is a minor annoyance on May 20th, but on December 13th the pet is about as unwelcome as the Grinch is on Christmas.  The oft-taken course for these people is to drop off the pet with rescue on the way out to buy Christmas gifts for Billy and Sally and Uncle Chet.  Christmas will be so much more relaxing without Sparky around!

But what these people don't realize is that giving up a pet during the holiday season is perhaps the worst time to do it.

Since so many people dump their pets during the holiday season, there is very little space in shelters and rescues.  Some rescues halt intake, while others (especially shelters, it seems) must consider euthanizing animals to make room.  Other rescues relax their adoption guidelines in an effort to move more animals, which ultimately leads to a higher percentage of poor placements.  In short, Sparky runs the risk of being killed or sent home with someone who shouldn't have been able to adopt him in the first place... if Sparky can even find a rescue to even take him.

Many rescues use boarding facilities to house their adoptables, but those facilities need rescues to move their animals out so there's room for the regular holiday boarders.  That leads to a mad scramble to find temporary foster homes for the animals, at a time of year when foster moms and dads are less likely to be in a position to take on extra dogs and/or cats.  Fosters and rescue volunteers are just like everyone else - we have vacations, family dinners, and holiday commitments as well.

My advice to those who may be looking to surrender an animal to rescue during this time of year is... don't.  Wait until after the holidays are over.  (Keeping your pet is better still, but if you must surrender, do it at a slightly better time than right now.)

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