Owning a pet is a big responsibility. It’s not all fun and games; you have to make sure it has everything it needs, and do it consistently. Unfortunately, many people don’t take that into consideration before getting a pet, and buy pets that need more caring than others, or pets that don’t match their lifestyle – and then blame them for messing up their lives.
Austin Conway, a professional baseball player, was trying to bring awareness to that problem and shared a post in which he explains what owning a dog is like.
“I had seen several posts a few days prior to people looking to [give up] their dogs,” Conway told Bored Panda. “The reasons behind re-homing were things like shedding, potty-training issues, hyperness, not enough space, difficulty finding rental housing, etc. All of which, in my opinion, are foreseeable responsibilities and factors that should be taken into consideration before making the decision to welcome an animal into your family. So, after seeing these, I just had an urge to create my post about my German Shepherd mix Stella in a way to spread the message that a pet is a lifetime choice.”
This article already has over 435K reactions and 285K shares, and it should be mandatory reading for people who want to get a pet.
Austin’s concerns are well-founded. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), states that around 3.3 million dogs arrive at U.S. animal shelters countrywide each year. The most common reasons owners state are problematic or aggressive behavior, or the animal became larger than anticipated, or health issues that were too complicated to handle. 620,000 of these dogs are united again with their families, and 1.6 million are adopted by other people, but the sad truth is that nearly 670,000 are euthanized.
Fortunately, Austin and Stella’s friendship has been thriving from the moment they came together. “I actually wasn’t planning on choosing any dog the day I went to the shelter,” he said. “I just happened to see a post on my Facebook about a German Shepherd mix litter that had been surrendered to a shelter close to my college. So, being the German Shepherd lover that I am, I drove over just to look, for fun. Which was a big ‘mistake.’”
“I immediately saw Stella and couldn’t put her down. She was the smallest and quietest one of the bunch and looked to be the one getting the least amount of attention. So, I went from not planning on getting a dog at all, to having her claimed and the adoption deposit paid within 1 hour of being there. Was by far the best decision I’ve ever made.”
Austin says Stella is an ‘old soul’ and has been since the moment he brought her home. “She loves walks, but if it’s too long of one, she’s sure to let me know she’s not having it. She’s extremely vocal. It’s one of her best and funniest qualities. She’s needy but in a good way. She always wants to have her paw on someone and hates to be alone. She’s as close to human as I’ve ever seen a dog be. She’s perfect,” he explained.
In his post, Austin also talks about renting an apartment with a dog, which is a problem that many pet owners have. Some landlords view larger pets as disruptive and prone to cause damage. “It’s difficult but do-able. Many apartments have restrictions on ‘aggressive’ breeds. So, the few times I’ve had to apartment-hunt, my list was always extremely small because I’ve been limited to properties that accept German Shepherds.”
He knew he would have this problem when he adopted the dog and was ready for it. “I’ve always done my due diligence and made sure I found any and all apartments in the cities I’ve lived in that would accept her. And from there, I began looking for the best fit after I was certain Stella was welcome.”
Austin thinks that renters with pets and landlords can improve on their relationships, but it should start by dropping the stereotype that follows breeds such as German Shepherds, Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, etc. “Some of the sweetest dogs I’ve been around are dogs that are labeled as an ‘aggressive’ breed,” he said.
“However, I also understand rental properties needing to protect themselves from potential liability involving incidents with tenants and their pets. So, it’s an issue that’s definitely not as simple as being black and white, and until the stereotypes around these breeds are gone, I don’t see it changing anytime soon. Just thankful for the rental properties that do allow these breeds to accommodate for pet owners like myself.”
For those who want to know more about the subject, The Humane Society of the United States provides a complete guide for renters with pets to find accommodation and resolve disputes with landlords.