Relinquished cats and dogs
Owner-related reasons matter more than behavioural problems - a study of why owners relinquished dogs and cats to a Danish animal shelter from 1996 to 2017
By J. B. H. Jensen, P. Sandøe & S. S. Nielsen (2020)
Every year, dogs and cats are relinquished to animal shelters by their owners in large numbers. Reasons for relinquishment of dogs and cats to a large Danish shelter from 1996 to 2017 were obtained and characterised. The reasons were available for 86% of the owner-relinquished animals, including 3204 dog relinquishments (90%) and 2755 cat relinquishments (82%). They were allocated to 59 categories, which were further merged into four owner-related and three animal-related reasons. The most commonly reported of these seven reasons for relinquishment of dogs were owner health (29%), animal behavioural problems (23%), housing issues (21%) and lack of time (14%). For cats, the figures were: owner health (32%), housing issues (26%), and animal behavioural problems (25%). No systematic changes in these patterns were found over time. The number of relinquished cats was roughly stable, whereas the number of relinquished dogs decreased on average by 3% per annum. Owner issues were the primary reason for relinquishment in both species, but nearly one-quarter of the animals were relinquished as a result of behavioural problems. As the latter are often connected with the owner in some way, the results emphasise the importance of a focus on owners when addressing pet relinquishment challenges.
Shelters Reflect but Cannot Solve Underlying Problems with Relinquished and Stray Animals—A Retrospective Study of Dogs and Cats Entering and Leaving Shelters in Denmark from 2004 to 2017
By P. Sandøe, J. B. Jensen, F. Jensen & S. S. Nielsen (2019)
Data covering about 90% of the estimated intake of dogs and cats to Danish shelters from 2004 to 2017 were used to study the effects of tight control of dogs and of efforts to increase shelter services for unwanted or stray cats. During the period, there was a low and decreasing intake of dogs, while the annual proportion of euthanised dogs increased from 6% to 10%. The number of cats entering shelters increased by about 250%, while the annual proportion of euthanised cats increased from 15% to about 29%. At the same time, there seemed to be a decrease in the population of stray cats. The major increase in cat intake may be due to animal protection non-governmental organizations (NGOs) making it easier to relinquish cats into shelters. Dog shelters can successfully handle surplus animals because dogs are well controlled by owners and are tightly regulated. Cats are more difficult to confine, are often allowed to roam freely and are less regulated. Therefore, cat shelters cannot solve the problem of surplus cats on their own. It is argued that an economic analysis may serve as a point of departure for a discussion on better policy making for NGOs in charge of shelters.