Triton, Acwell and Lakota are currently up for adoption after their owners suddenly decided to move.
This week more than 300 lbs of Rottweiler was delivered to my door. Nothing against the breed, but I'd rather have had a new fridge, thanks all the same.
It's become an old story, dog owners moving and unable to take their dogs with them. Sometimes it's just an excuse to dump a dog that the family is tired of, but many owners are honestly upset to have to part with their pets.
The most common reason for a person to have to leave a pet behind when they move is that they are renting and unable to find landlords who will allow pets. It's especially a problem for owners of large dogs. I don't blame landlords for being hesitant; dogs can be really hard on property, and the larger the dog, the bigger the potential mess. Careless renters leave behind chewed drywall and doorframes, urine-marked carpets, and fleas. They ruin opportunities for the rest of us.
So what can you do to avoid having to abandon your dog? I know you're saying that you never would...but you never know what the future holds. You might find yourself in a tight situation one day. A divorce, an accident that leaves you dependent on others, an economic crisis: any of these could find you scrambling to provide for yourself and your dog.
First of all, think it through before you get a new pet. Do you feel confident you'll have enough resources to provide for the animal for his/her lifetime? Is this dependent on you staying in your present relationship, your present job situation, or your present location?
Next, train your dog, earn a Canine Good Citizen certificate. This is something you can show a landlord to prove that you've put some work into your dog and are likely to be a responsible owner. And should you ever need to re-home your dog, he or she will be much more desirable to adopters. Training can make the difference between passing your dog on to a family member or friend vs. having to put down your much-loved (by you) but unruly pet.
Plan ahead. If you can see that you might need to move, don't wait until the last minute to look for pet-friendly housing or for someone to leave your dog with. Locate resources to help you. One great place to start is the HSUS website. Resources include a list of reasons why renting to pet owners is good for landlords, examples of pet policies you can suggest to landlords who are inclined to avoid problems by just banning pets, and a sample pet resume!
Save up some extra cash so that you can offer a bigger-than-asked-for security deposit. This could sway a landlord who would like to rent to you but is concerned about property damage.
Lastly, know it isn't hopeless. If you are determined to keep your pet, and willing to sacrifice, you probably can. I knew a woman who planned a move from her rural home here on the islands to Vancouver. The mistake she made was assuming that because she thought her 3 large dogs were wonderful, everyone else would, too! In the end, she boarded her dogs with me for almost a year while she hunted for a place in the city where she could live with them. Gudrun, if you're reading this, you still owe me several hundred dollars, but I admire your dedication to your animals. Not everyone tries so hard to do the right thing.
Speaking of which, a pickup has just pulled into my driveway with 2 of the biggest dogs I have ever seen. The owner doesn't consider these models to be portable.
Shane Windatt, CTC, CPDT
Pawsitive Spin Dog Training and Boarding
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