Adopt + Commit (Don’t be an “Owner Surrender”) 


In life, since we don’t give-up on our two legged children under any circumstance, why do we give-up on our four legged?  

I follow an animal shelter on Instagram. It’s based in New York. And every day without fail many “once loved” cats and dogs are posted for adoption. Their background: some are kittens and puppies, most are considerably older like 9, 14, even 17 years of age. And they are there because of the dreadful words: “Owner Surrender”. 

Can you imagine being abandoned during the last few years of your life, when for the last 17 years you spent every day in your only home and loved one you’ve ever known? I realize there are extreme circumstances where we need to extend empathy to those who make this impossible decision. But when you’re as extreme as I am (I’d live in a wigwam if it meant not failing our two cats Reece and Princeton) -you can’t help but feel anger and resentment. It seems cold, callous and selfish. Bad human, you think. Bad human.

Because overall, a high number of these cases where people surrender their pets is unacceptable. Much of the time the decision has been made over a matter of inconvenience. Suddenly the four legged child is exhibiting a behavior you don’t like. Like peeing indoors or outside of their box. That is a case of your nugget trying to tell you something is wrong. They need help. Not abandonment. Many times the situation is easily rectified and you have a comfortable, happy, and appreciative nugget once again. You’re both back to that feeling of when you first brought them home. 

Other times someone is moving somewhere they can’t bring animals… Why did you choose that apartment? Keep looking, please. 

Let’s not forget “they have too many animals” and they randomly chose who gets the boot? These cats and dogs have lived in some of these homes for years, perhaps their entire lives, while even if it’s only a matter of months they have already developed a dependence on you, and love you. And now they are suddenly “homeless”.  Left behind in a loud, busy shelter where the world’s greatest people are working as hard as they can attending to the animals that “owner surrenders” have given up on. These pets who now sit in a cage are waiting and waiting for you to come back and take them home. So, where are you? Did you really just walk away and say to yourself, well that’s that? Who are these people? I don’t know them. Or, do I? 

These people are MANY people. They are people who were once kind enough to give a homeless dog a loving place to feel is theirs. These are people who realize that having a cat’s companionship is wonderful so they adopt one. But then, a new boyfriend is allergic and the wrong relationship is severed. For me it would be bye, boyfriend. Byeeeee.

Then there’s the, “can’t handle giving pills or imagine giving saline injections.” It’s not hard. You can do it. We did saline twice a day for four years with our cat, Jordan. There are many videos on YouTube for that.  

Most of us agree that we have an obligation to others in life and that extends to animals. Once you adopt, regardless of the case, you can find a way to keep your commitment. I’ve witnessed others in great times of need bring their pet along for that journey as they make it through the challenging situation. The irony here is, you’re going through a challenging time and that’s when pets provide the best comfort you can find. That’s literally what they do best. Did you consider that?

When there’s a will there is indeed a way.  If the issue is cost, there are programs who provide assistance. Seek out the help. Research online, ask around, ask your vet, ask local shelters and organizations, even friends, or family, your church or school, ask and ask for help with resources without ever considering “surrender” as an option. Because help will come.

It is our humanly duty to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves. It’s our duty to not dump that family member at a shelter or abandon them on the side of the road, or leave them behind when you move. But to find a solution that involves keeping your four-legged family member as an essential member of your family. 

When I mentioned “when there’s a will there’s a way” -it’s one of life’s biggest truths. We can always find a way to do the right thing, if it’s in our will to do so. Don’t be one of those people who handle it in such a way that you wouldn’t want to boast about it.

And if you are reading this and have been in this situation of owner surrender, I’m sorry. Hopefully in the future you can find positive change and become a part of the solution to helping homeless pets, not acting as a part of the problem. It’s a wonderful side of the fence to be on. Because at any point in time, walking into a local shelter and finding a cuddly pet is one of life’s greatest feelings, AND achievements. Because you are extending love and care where both are needed. That makes you a good human. Good human! 

Animals shelters are far beyond capacity most days. And many, many of these babies never find a new home. So let’s stop fooling ourselves into believing you’re doing them a favor, that they can do better than with you. Often times, their lives end the minute you make that decision to give up on them, leaving them behind, and walking away with your now empty pet carrier. That has got to be one of the most miserable feelings. If that sharp pang of guilt subsides at some point, consider yourself lucky.  I know some have found themselves haunted for life after doing so. Deep down they know the reality is, their pet’s last few weeks, sometimes days, was spent confused and in fear, in that loud, busy shelter where staff is scurrying about ensuring food, water, medical care and nearly pleading for adopters. Unfortunately much of the staff’s day is spent having to create a new listing attached to your former cat or dog with the worst words “Owner Surrender” -because of you. 

Don’t be an Owner Surrender. Remember the excitement and love you felt when first adopting or bringing that four legged wonder into your home. And make it your goal to adopt and commit, until they peacefully cross over the rainbow bridge one day. xx mp xx 

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