Sometimes it feels like it's raining dogs here at SHUG HQ. One of the questions we're often asked is where our dogs come from. In addition to working closely with some really wonderful rescues and shelters in the states and overseas, SHUG also receives dogs as "owner surrenders." This means the dog's owner can't care for them anymore and has willingly transferred their ownership to SHUG.
In some cases, this dog may be a "bounce"-- meaning they were originally a SHUG dog. It is part of the SHUG adoption contract that if one of our adopters ever can't take care of the dog they adopt from us for any reason, they must bring it back to us. We never want one of our dogs to end up in shelter or on the streets ever again. Once SHUG makes a commitment to a dog, it is for their life.
Whether a dog was originally a SHUG dog or came from a shelter or was purchased from a breeder, SHUG always treats the owners who make the difficult decision to surrender their dog with respect and dignity. The reality is there are many reasons why someone has to relinquish a pet–some are good and some are not so good.
Sometimes an owner falls ill and can no longer care for a beloved pet. Sometimes owners lose their job or home and relinquish a pet out of economic necessity. There are times a child develops an allergy, a service member is deployed or a home environment just turns out not to be a good match for a particular dog. In this instances, dogs are often much beloved. These dogs come to us with bags of food, multiple beds, fancy collars and a lot of tears.
Of course, there are surrenders that occur when people just get tired of a pet or it gets old or it doesn’t match the new drapes. In those cases, we bite our tongues and thank them for turning the dog over to us rather than a shelter, where in all likelihood the dog will be euthanized.
Demonizing the relinquishing owner doesn’t benefit anyone–least of all the dog. And we don’t, and won’t, do anything that might reduce the likelihood someone in the future may relinquish a dog to us. It boils down to this: dogs that come to SHUG find homes; dogs relinquished to shelters may not and dogs kept by owners who don’t want them do not flourish.
Protecting a surrendering owner's privacy is often a condition for their release of the dog. Unfortunately, that may mean that we aren’t able to provide many details about the dog's background. We do, however, fully assess our dogs before we place them in what we hope will be their forever homes. We also always make sure the new owners have any information that will determine how their new dog reacts in their home.
While there are many reasons a dog might be relinquished through no fault of its own, there are sometimes dog-specific issues that a new owner needs to be aware of. For example, a dog that has attacked a cat or growled at rambunctious children. In those cases we will set the dog up "for success" and place them in a home where they are unlikely to encounter those situations and we will also arm their new owners with as many details as we can about any past incidents. So even though you might not have cats, if we place a dog in your home that isn't cat safe we will give you a heads up about that.
The bottom line is this: circumstances change, relationships change, people’s commitment to their pets change. What isn't going to change is our commitment to these dogs. SHUG and its partners are the safety net for those Sighthounds who find themselves caught in such situations. We are here for the dogs.