Divorce and shelter dogs

January 6th, 2016
Divorce and shelter dogs

Divorce. We all know someone who has gone through it. Or we’ve gone through it ourselves. In this day and age, the breakdown of relationships is sadly a very common aspect of modern day life.

But have you ever considered what happens to the beloved pets of a broken home? Do they just go with one party to another residence? Or is there a growing number being surrendered to animal shelters across Australia?

Lee and Fiona Amiti from Animal Adoption Agency know first-hand the problems many pet owners face during a relationship break-up. They have seen many families having to give up their pets due to a divorce situation.

“At the Animal Adoption Agency, we understand how harrowing it can be for a pet owner or their family to have to surrender a dog or cat,” Fiona says. “At the end of the day, it is not the owners or pets fault the relationship has broken down and circumstances have dramatically changed.”

Running a no-kill shelter allows Lee and Fiona to give owners peace of mind that the pet being surrendered will be re-homed. No matter the costly resources or the length of time it takes. This is comforting to many families going through such a crisis.

Currently 60 per cent of the animals looking for new homes at Animal Adoption Agency are a product of a relationship breakdown. This number is made up of dogs (and cats) that were once cherished and loved additions to the family home.

“I’m sure these figures are echoed amongst other shelters in Australia,” Lee says. “We currently have 30 cats and dogs looking for new homes that are the product of a relationship spilt.”

The latest research, conducted back in 2013, noted that 47,638 divorces were granted in Australia. Many of these households had children and pets that were directly affected. The next collation of research is expected later this year on the current number of divorces in Australia.

“One in four marriages ends in divorce,” Lee says. “Many times there is more than one pet in the effected household … it’s very sad but true”.

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No Kill

The key to the ‘no-guilty’ option for families is the fact that Animal Adoption Agency runs as a no-kill shelter. Lee and Fiona have been passionately running the shelter for the past 16 years and have seen many happy pets come and go. The husband and wife team are adamant about the importance of no-kill shelters and the role they play within the community, particularly in situations such as divorce.

Training & Temperament

The word temperament is talked about a lot in the dog industry, particularly when adoption is concerned. Lee explains what the term ‘temperament’ means.

“A dog is born with a temperament,” he says. “When adopting an adult dog, its temperament is already established. Even when adopting a puppy. It may seem cute and innocent at the time, but it’s not too long before the animal’s temperament will start to surface.”

Lee also notes that sometimes the temperament of a dog is pleasant and sometimes it’s simply not.

Most dogs that come into Animal Adoption Agency from split homes have even temperaments as they’ve normally come from a busy home full of children and family fun. However, on occasion additional work needs to be done with the dog — in terms of training — to ensure they are ready for their new home.

This story was originally published in the October 2015 issue of Dogs Life. Subscribe to the magazine here.

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