Why Say Homeless Animals Were Dumped?

Aster waiting for me to throw the ball

When people say that their cat or dog was adopted, have you ever asked how or why their beloved pet was dumped?   I doubt it.  It would be insulting, right?

And yet I often see online posts and comments about how a dog or cat was dumped.  I really don’t like the word dumped used for animals who need new homes.  Sometimes the term is used casually about dating experiences, but do people looking for someone new go around announcing that they were dumped last time?  Not often.   I think most folks prefer to say that things just didn’t work out for this or that reason.

That’s what happens with most pets who need new homes. For some reason, things didn’t work out.  It’s some sad situation in which people feel that they have to give up their pets.   Maybe the pet owner is sick or died.  Maybe there was some disaster in the person’s life such as illness, divorce. death, loss of a job or a home.  Even if the dogs and cats have behavior problems, those behaviors will hopefully change in the new home.  Some people may casually surrender or abandon their pets, but even so, should that stigmatize the animal?

Regardless of the situation, it’s a second chance for the dog or cat to find a good person who will love him/her unconditionally.  Calling those animals “dumped” is too much like calling them garbage that was thrown out.   I’d like to dump the word “dumped” for homeless animals.

My guess is that the people using the term dumped are angry about the fact that owners gave up on their pets, but it’s likely that the animals are going to be better off in new homes.  The problem is that animal shelters kill so many of the dogs and cats who are abandoned or surrendered.  That’s where we should direct our anger.  Animal shelters can and should stop killing dogs and cats.  Shelters across the country are achieving 90 percent save rates.  Many shelters are even saving 99 percent by turbocharging adoption and encouraging good rescue groups to pull animals instead of denying them access.   There’s no excuse for killing animals who just need another chance to be loved.

All I’m saying is that it doesn’t help homeless dogs and cats get adopted when we use the word dumped.  So why do it?.

I would never complain about my pets having been “dumped.” Of our eleven dogs over four decades, we’ve had ten dogs we adopted as adults:

  • Barney and Zoe lost their homes in a divorce;
  • Simba came to us from a relative;
  • Herschel, Ruby, Molly, Baxter, Pearl, Papi, and Aster were homeless for reasons unknown to us.  Two were from a rescue group and five were from shelters.

We really don’t care how our dogs became homeless.  As our dogs, we have loved them unconditionally.  We have certainly loved them just as much as we loved our first dog Rosabelle who came to us as a puppy. (We got her from a breeder, which we would never do again now that we know more about the joys of adopting.)

Since we got our first dog, we haven’t had cats in our home.  My husband and I grew up with cats and we loved them dearly.  My husband started feeding a feral cat who showed up at our door, and more came, of course.  Our home was in a development built on land that was once farmed.  We trapped and neutered all of the cats.   I hated seeing them in the traps, but I knew it had to be done.  We also put in a cat door in the garage and kept the cars outside.  We heated it in the winter.  When our house was crushed by a tree, we moved away.   Circumstances beyond our control occurred so we could no longer care for the cats.  Yes, I worry about what happened to them.  I can only hope that someone else is caring for them now.  At least I know that animal control in that jurisdiction doesn’t trap and kill cats, which happens in all too many places.  Many people don’t realize that 70% of cats who go into shelters are killed.  That’s why stray cats have a better chance on their own.  Many good hearted people take in stray cats.

Many people don’t realize that 70% of cats who go into shelters are killed.  That’s why I believe that stray cats have a better chance on their own.  Many good hearted people take in stray cats.  Of course, the feral cats don’t want to go in a home and should be allowed to live in peace if they’ve been neutered.

Let’s direct our anger at the shelters that kill animals, not the fact that the dogs and cats don’t have homes.