Surrendering – nothing to be ashamed of

I am a volunteer with the Pennsylvania SPCA and you are indeed correct in calling the overcrowding in shelters a crisis. It is unfortunately all too common for pet owners to surrender their pets once they can no longer care for them. It is absolutely understandable for someone in the process of losing their home to need to surrender their pet. It is nothing to be ashamed of. It is better to bring them to the shelter than let them loose or leave them behind. Domestic pets can rarely survive in the wild or the urban jungle unattended. There are a few things pet owners could do that would be very helpful to the shelter staff however.

Please try to bring your pet's current vaccination/vet records or meds. It saves the cost of revaccinating and helps the staff to know if your pet may have special needs that a potential adopter NEEDS to know. Give us a little information on your pet as well. Be honest. Do they get along with other animals or kids? Are they housebroken? We had one animal arrive uncontrollable until we figured out it understand Spanish, not English! Any extra information you can provide that will help us find the right place for your pet is so hopeful and appreciated.

Finally, while I can't stress enough that it is better to bring your pet to a shelter than to turn it loose, shelters are not meant to be a catch all for every animal an owner gets bored with. Many, like the one I volunteer with, are kill shelters. They cannot help it when the overcrowding exceeds the capacity they can hold. As hard as we try, most days the animals can't get proper exercise, walks and socialization. It isn't the Ritz. Please think carefully before you turn in or ever even get a pet in the first place! Puppies and kittens are not instantly housebroken and trained. They are a very long-term commitment. They can be costly. They are sometimes loud, annoying, messy and misbehaved. If you are meant to have a pet you accept this and love every teeth-grinding minute of it. Just make sure your pet can't make more pets. Always, always, always spay and neuter! This is the only way to control the population, which allows us to help those who really can't keep their beloved pet.

Melissa Branstatter