The official definition of animal abandonment is when a person leaves an animal in a public area, not intending to return or arrange for it’s care. Sadly, there is no way of tracking how often this happens, so we don’t know the exact number of abandoned strays in total. In many states abandoning a pet is illegal. It fits in place with animal cruelty laws. Those who do leave a pet behind suffer punishments such as fines up to $1,000 and sometimes even a year in jail.
Abandonment is typically caused by a change of heart and/or situation. People might impulsively buy a new puppy, then later realize that they don’t have the time or money for it, so they abandon it. They may also lose their jobs, move to new places, or other things that make it so they can no longer support an animal. If you are in a situation like this, there are alternatives to abandonment. Bring your animal to a shelter. If you can no longer afford your pet, but want to keep it, there are pet food pantries you can go to. Also, their are organizations that can help you find low cost animal care, such Tree House Humane Society or Animal Welfare League.
To avoid situations where you would need to even CONSIDER abandoning your animal, put a lot of thought into the choice of buying a pet. Here are some things to consider when deciding if a pet is right for you:
- Time: Animals need a lot of care, and are pretty vocal when they don’t get what they want. Do you have the time for walks, playtime, training, etc?
- Longevity: Pets like turtles and parrots can live for as long as humans do. Getting a pet is a long-term (possibly lifetime) commitment. Do you want to put up with a noisy bird in your old age?
- Space: The little puppy you have now won’t stay little for long. Are you prepared to take care of a 70 pound, fluffy monstrosity (in a good way)? Also, pets need a lot of room, big cages and space to “frolic.”
- Money: Pets are a big responsibility, and an expensive one too. Vet bills, buying supplies and replacing stuff that gets destroyed can add up. Some animals “take no prisoners,” (shoes, etc.). Are you ready to pay the bill?