What is the most pathetic excuse for giving up an animal? Living as we do amid an epidemic of tepid commitment and laser-sharp detachment...

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What is the most pathetic excuse for giving up an animal?

Living as we do amid an epidemic of tepid commitment and laser-sharp detachment, people routinely discard their companion animals. Some reasons — like a child’s allergies or homelessness — are understandable. But many are not — at least not to those who consider their animals family members.

Rescuers — you know them by the plastic airline crates in their hatchbacks, and the Milk-Bones in their glove compartments — are in the nonprofit business of cleaning up the messes people make with the sentient beings they’ve brought into their lives. With big hearts and tiny budgets, they grit their teeth as clueless, oftentimes obnoxious owners hand over the leash — or cage, or tank.

Excuses — they have heard them all before. But maybe you haven’t.

Moving is a perennial reason for dumping animals. “It’s everyone’s favorite,” says Barbara Williamson of Utah’s Best Friends Society, who polled staffers. “Nobody here can even begin to understand how you move into a place that doesn’t accept pets when you have pets.”

Another common catalyst is the arrival of a sweetheart. New lovers or spouses who hate dog hair or slobber issue ultimatums, and their not-so-better halves comply.

The dissolution of a marriage is a prime reason for relinquishing animals, as is the arrival of diminutive two-leggers. “When the excuse is that the owner is having a baby, I send her to the president of Alaskan Malamute Rescue of New England,” says Malamute fancier Susan Conant, who writes dog-centric mystery novels. “She is the mother of triplets.”

Yep, family ties can be nooses for some animals. Marjorie Lipson of Long Island, N.Y.-based Second Chance Labrador Rescue offered up the interesting approach of blaming the kids: “My youngest child is now in college — it was her dog that we purchased 14 years ago,” one owner told her as he turned over his gray-faced dog. “We never wanted a dog — the kids did.”

Norwegian elkhound fancier Lexiann Grant of southeastern Ohio had this doozy: “An Akita was surrendered because the family decided to do away with their current ‘Japanese landscaping’ and go with a Southwestern theme.”

File this under “craven compassion”: Pam Dennison, author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Positive Dog Training,” had a friend who took in an 18-month-old Schnauzer. “She had a kidney problem, and the owners ‘loved her so much they couldn’t bear to watch her die.”‘ (Postscript: The friend kept the dog, switched her to a raw-food diet, and five years later, the dog is still going strong.)

Debra J. White of Tempe, Ariz., started volunteering at animal shelters in 1989. “I have seen and heard the most dumb, pathetic and lame excuses,” she says. “The cat meows. The dog barks.”

But nothing prepared her for this beaut, delivered by a pregnant woman who was jettisoning her child substitute to make room for the real thing.

“My fetus,” she proclaimed, “is allergic to the dog.”