Causes of Abandoned Animals and How to Avoid It

Causes of Abandoned Animals and How to Avoid It

The abandonment of animals is a very present problem in our society. In our country alone, guardians and municipal centres collect more than 300,000 dogs and cats every year. Although it is a criminalized crime, the number of abandoned animals in our country do not decrease.


Animal abandonment data

According to data from 2021-2022 collected by the Affinity Foundation, more than 306,000 dogs and cats arrive every year at animal shelters and municipal centres in Spain. Most of them are still dogs (183,000), although the percentage of stray cats is increasing, representing around 40% of the total stray animals.

The animals most likely to be abandoned are large puppies and kittens. In fact, 8 out of 10 dogs are big. The number of purebred dogs is also increasing. Furthermore, most stray animals are neither microchipped nor sterilized.

As for the fate of these animals, only 44% of dogs are adopted and 16% will never leave the animal shelter. Only about 23% of dogs can be returned to their owners, so they are not considered abandoned, but rather lost.

Cats have similar adoption numbers: 43% of them find a new family. However, more than 90% appear without a microchip , so their guardians cannot be found. As a result, 12% of cats remain in the shelter, while 13% die in a short time.

Causes of Abandoned Animals

Most stray animals are collected from the street or taken to the shelter by someone who found them. In very few cases, the owners themselves deliver them. Therefore, it is difficult to know the real causes of animal abandonment.

According to the Affinity Foundation, these are the main reasons for dropping out:

  • Unwanted litters (21%)
  • Behaviour problems (13.2%)
  • End of hunting season (11.6%)
  • Loss of interest in the animal (10.8%)
  • Allergies (6.3%)
  • Change of address or transfer (6.2%)
  • Lack of time or space (6.1%)
  • Hospital admission or death (5%)
  • Birth of a child (2.6%)
  • Divorce (2%)

There is a false myth that holidays are a major cause. However, only 0.8% of animals are abandoned for this reason. Abandonment of dogs is stable throughout the year and that of cats is concentrated in the breeding season (spring-summer).

Consequences of Abandoning Animals

Abandoning dogs and cats represents a major expense to public coffers. For example, in Catalonia alone, some 50 million euros a year for the problem of abandonment [1] . In addition, we must remember the efforts of many people who, daily, dedicate themselves to helping these dogs and cats, many of them voluntarily.

Finally, this practice is a great suffering for animals. First, for separating from those responsible for them and finding themselves lost without knowing what to do, exposed to many dangers, such as being abused or mistreated. Fortunately, they end up in an animal shelter or shelter, where there are sometimes problems with overcrowding, disease, poor hygiene, etc.

Generally, puppies stay in shelters for a short time (about 3 months). On the contrary, the average permanence of adult animals is around 10 months. Some of them, usually larger dogs, may spend the rest of their lives in the shelter or moving from foster care to foster care until their death.

For this reason, it is very important to encourage the adoption of dogs and cats, as well as taking steps to avoid abandoning the animals.

How to avoid abandoning animals?

There are many strategies to avoid abandoning animals. The microchip is one of them. It is a mandatory practice and, if not carried out, it may result in a penalty for the tutor. However, we must do even more to make people aware of the importance of its use, especially in case of loss.

Given the main causes of the abandonment of animals, it is essential to promote sterilization to avoid unwanted litters, as well as to promote the education of dogs and their guardians to improve coexistence and avoid unwanted behaviours.

Likewise, it is critical to strengthen laws and increase penalties for abandonment. So it’s encouraging responsible animal adoption. 42% of people who adopt do so because they are aware of this issue, so over 90% of adoptions are successful.

Finally, the most effective measure to prevent the abandonment of animals is the awareness and education of the population. The objective is to achieve greater commitment from people who decide to take care of an animal, making them understand that this decision involves a great responsibility: it requires a lot of time and also an economic effort. Check out the following articles on How Much to Keep a Dog and How Much to Keep a Cat to see if you can cover all of your needs before making this important decision.

pet insurance

More than 6% of dropouts occur for financial reasons. Between 20 and 30% of abandoned animals have diseases, which may indicate that the family cannot afford veterinary expenses. For this reason, taking out pet insurance can be a good measure to avoid abandonment.

If you’re going to adopt a four-legged friend, protect them from now on by taking out pet insurance. Take out accident and illness insurance with safe pets for a minimum period of one year. In just a minute, you’ll have the guarantee that, in the event of an unforeseen event, you won’t have to make large expenses or give up on your best friend’s company.

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