What Happens When You Abandon Your Pet

News from the Natural World: The Consequences of Abandoning Your Pet? The Beagle investigates!

News from the Natural World: What happens when you abandon your pet? The Beagle investigates!

6.5 million pets are surrendered in the US every year. Of these, only 3.2 million are rehomed. What happens to the pets that don’t find forever homes? Only 700,000 return to their original owners, while over a million are euthanized. The statistics paint a grim picture indeed. This is why we must ask difficult questions like ‘What happens when you abandon your pet?’ before making such decisions. 

While we understand that sweeping statements such as “abandoning your pet should never be an option” aren’t going to ease your situation, we do believe there is a better solution—one where your four-legged family member doesn’t end up a statistic. 

Read on to learn more.

Common Reasons People Abandon Their Pets and How To Circumvent Them

What Really Happens When You Abandon Your Pet

As frowned upon as it is, pet abandonment is extremely common. Here are several reasons why people take such drastic measures:


Moving to another state or city can be stressful, and many people tend to abandon their pets as they cannot handle the added responsibility or expense during the move.

Even when moving within the same city, many landlords and apartment complexes may not allow pets, putting a pet owner in a tough situation. Before you give up your pet, try the following:

  • There is no shortage of pet-friendly residences. If you haven’t found one yet, re-examine your ideal neighborhood criteria. Picking a location that adds a few minutes to your commute, for instance, will spare you and your pet the heartache of abandonment. 
  • Have an honest discussion with your landlord and compromise on a slightly higher pet fee or negotiate conditions that benefit you.
  • As a last resort, asking friends or family to take care of your dog while you figure out alternate solutions is also a great idea.

Having A Baby

The arrival of a newborn is another reason why parents, especially first-timers, abandon their dogs. However, raising a child and a pet is no different than raising multiple children—it is possible with a few cutbacks and a little help. And just as having a sibling can benefit children, growing up with a dog is an incredible experience for your child. 

So before you make that heart-wrenching decision, here’s what you can try:

  • Train your dog to behave around children, especially infants.
  • Expose your dog to other older children to help it get accustomed to sounds, smells, behaviors.
  • Appropriately introduce your baby to your dog.
  • Teach your child to respect dogs starting from an early age.
  • Include your four-legged baby on family outings, so they feel like part of the family unit—it’s easy for your dog to feel excluded when your baby arrives.
  • Get help when you need it—be it a friendly neighbor taking your dog to the vet or the teenager next door helping with dog-walking responsibilities.
What Happens When You Abandon Your Pet?
What Happens When You Abandon Your Pet?

Behavioral or Health Issues

Aggressive, misbehaved dogs can be difficult to deal with. However, undesirable behaviors don’t mean your pet is any less loveable. Before you give up on your dog, try the following:

  • Visit your vet to rule out health-related causes—yes, some health issues can cause dogs to behave aggressively.
  • Get a trainer or behaviorist—they’ll help you understand your pet’s behavior and remedies.
  • Learn to train your dog by using free online resources and guides.

If your dog has a chronic illness that affects its quality of life or behavior, speak to a vet or ask for a referral to get a specialist’s opinion if your current mode of therapy does not seem to be working.

If you’ve tried everything possible but your dog’s health deteriorates further, or their behavior is beginning to threaten the safety of you and those around you, consider humane euthanasia instead of abandonment.

Health or Physical Limitations

If you are ill and can no longer care for your dog, consider alternatives to abandonment such as:

  • If it’s a short-term situation, ask friends or family to foster your dog while you recover.
  • Ask neighbors or friends to help you out with activities you find challenging, like walks, trips to the vet, and grooming.
  • Sign up to have volunteers, outreach programs, or welfare organizations care for your dog.

Financial Struggles

If you are facing financial difficulties and cannot afford the added expense of having a dog, consider the following:

  • Visit low-cost pet welfare clinics.
  • DIY, thrift, or borrow supplies like dog collars, treats, and beds.
  •  Find discounted heartworm and flea prevention.
  • Look for mid-range diet food, or try giving your dog homemade meals.
This Happens When You Abandon Your Pet

Legal Consequences of Abandoning Your Pet

Abandoning your pet is inhumane and unnecessary from a moral and ethical standpoint. It is also illegal in every state- you could be booked for animal cruelty and face:

  • Penalties or fines ranging from $50 to $500
  • Up to 30 days of jail time.

How Long Is Considered Abandonment Of A Pet?

Abandonment is legally presumed between 4-14 days, though this varies by state.

Now that we’ve covered the owner’s side of things, let’s look at how animals suffer when they are abandoned.

Why Is Abandoning Pets Bad?

Most abandoned dogs end up at shelters or pounds – the numbers cross the 6 million mark. Of these, a meager 700,000 return to their owners, and 1.6 million are adopted. The remaining continue to live in shelters. Some may even fall victim to accidents or abuse, as strays are not treated kindly. That’s why animal abandonment is a problem.

Over 500,000 Dogs Are Euthanized Every Year As Shelters Lack The Capacity And Resources To Care For So Many Dogs. 

It’s common knowledge that abandoned pets get ‘sad,’ but do animals feel abandonment in a deeper sense? Well, they do.

So, what happens when you abandon pets? The effects of abandonment manifest emotionally and physically in all dogs. Let’s have a look at them.

Loss of Appetite or Malnutrition

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