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Dog Tales: The Ridiculous Reasons People Surrender Pets

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Animal shelters across the country are packed with stray or unwanted dogs. Many of us are aware of that. However, what you may not know is some of the ridiculous reasons why the pets are brought there.

One example is a story out of the Memphis, Tennessee area. A man turned over his bulldog mix to an animal shelter because he said the dog was gay. The former owner said the dog was ‘humping’ other male dogs, he didn’t want it anymore, and it could be euthanized. See the full story here.

That scenario led us to ask this question - Have animal shelters and animal rescue organizations in north Alabama dealt with ridiculous excuses too?

WHNT News 19 spoke to directors and workers at several agencies that take in unwanted pets. Every one of them has heard their fair share of crazy excuses for ditching a dog.

Too noisy, hairy, and expensive are just some of the reasons pet owners have given.

“Too much energy,” said Josie Cooper, with the Madison Animal Rescue Foundation, also known as MARF.

Another reason people surrender their pets is because it's too much work.

"They don’t want to train an animal or they’re tired of it,” explained Carol Wicks, the Decatur Animal Services Director.

Sometimes it's because the owner thinks the pet is unattractive.

"It’s not cute anymore," said Cooper. "It’s not a puppy and it got bigger than I thought.”

The list goes on and on.

"Digging," said Huntsville Animal Services Director Dr. Karen Hill Shepard. "Yeah, dogs dig!”

"The dog got in my flower bed and disturbed the mulch,” shared Miki Bennett, the director of the Madison Animal Rescue Foundation.

The longer the list gets, the crazier it gets. For example, one dog was given up because of a nonexistent illness.

"The lady had gone on the internet and done some research and decided that the dog was dying and had an incurable disease, even though it had been totally checked out by the veterinarian,” said Bennett. "She was a hypochondriac, but with her dog."

Another outrageous excuse that's been used is that the dog and the decor don’t match.

"The dark colored hair is showing up on the light colored furniture,” said Dr. Shepard. "It’s just a goofy excuse."

Wicks has also heard the same excuse before.

"Somebody turned in an animal because the person got a new couch and said the fur didn’t match anymore," said Wicks. "That seems the height of silliness to me.”

These silly stories result in a serious situation, which is hundreds of pets without a home.  Bennett says it's avoidable, especially if people really think through the decision to get a pet ahead of time.

"People don’t realize when you get an animal, it’s a lifetime commitment," said Bennett. "It’s a part of your family. It’s not just something you do until you get tired of it.”

But as many of us can attest to, we’re living in an impulse society. Let's say you get an animal and are in over your head. Then what? Dr. Shepard says there are still options.

"If you’ve got the pet now and something is not working out, when you start feeling that frustration, go and get some help," suggested Dr. Shepard. "Everything has an answer.”

If you're a struggling pet owner, help is available, especially on the internet at no charge.

Decatur Animal Services provides pet care resources on its website. Huntsville Animal Services offers tips on owning a well-behaved dog. The Humane Society of the United States provides information about dog care and financial assistance.

Click here to read about how the ASPCA Animal Behavior Center's experts tackle your toughest pet care problems.

If you’re still trying to decide whether or not to get a dog either from an agency, private seller, or someone you know, Josie Cooper with MARF offers these tips:

  • Research the breed
  • Learn about the health history, temperament, likes, and dislikes
  • Evaluate behavior
  • Calculate the cost associated with pet care

If you're interested in adopting a pet, click the links below to see the animals available at the agencies featured in the special report:

Decatur Animal Services

Huntsville Animal Services

Madison Animal Rescue Foundation