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.