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Dumping Dogs in the Country: What Really Happens to Them

Written by: Chantelle Fowler

Last Updated on April 24, 2024 by Dogster Team

Black dog tied to a road barricade

Dumping Dogs in the Country: What Really Happens to Them

Did you know that nearly one-quarter of dogs taken to shelters in the United States were relinquished by their owners? It’s true, according to data from Shelter Animals Count, and in 2023, that number was almost 200,000.1 As heartbreaking as it can be to have to abandon your pet at the shelter, it’s a much better option than what other irresponsible pet owners are resorting to.

Dog dumping occurs when careless owners take their dogs into rural areas and leave them. Whether they think they’re doing their pets a favor by taking them back into the wild or if they’re just looking for a quick and easy way to relinquish their ownership responsibilities, we can’t be certain. What we do know, however, is that dog dumping is extremely cruel and unnecessary. Read on to learn more.

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Is Dog Dumping Really That Common?

Though we’d love to say that dog dumping isn’t a common occurrence, a quick Google search shows us that that’s just not true.

In June 2023, WPEC, a television station in Florida, wrote a report about dogs being abandoned along the Treasure Coast in the southeast region of the state at a rate never before seen.2

A YouTube video posted in April 2023 from ABC7, a Los Angeles television station, shows a vehicle dropping off their dog and driving away.

It’s not just a United States problem, either.

In March 2023, CTV News, a Canadian news station, posted an article about more than a dozen dogs being dumped across Huron and Perth Counties in Ontario.3

Wales Online posted an article in July 2023 stating that 50,000 dogs had been dumped across the United Kingdom in the past three years post-COVID lockdowns.4

Dog abandoned on the roadside
Image Credit: fotorince, Shutterstock

What Happens to the Dogs That Get Dumped?

A very real potential outcome for a dog that’s dumped in the country is that they get shot. Many small communities don’t have functioning animal control services, so farmers often take matters into their own hands, especially if the dumped dog is wreaking havoc on their livestock.

Of course, not all dogs that get dumped will wind up shot and dead. Some will succumb to the elements, some will be poisoned and die a gruesome death, and some will travel further into the country to never be heard from or seen again. And, if the dog is one of the very lucky few, they may wander into town and find themselves in the arms of new, responsible owners.

Why Do People Dump Dogs?

Though we may never know for certain why dog dumpers abandon their pets in the country, especially if the perpetrators get away with it, we can make assumptions.

  • Dogs are a huge responsibility. People sometimes forget that pet ownership requires a lot of work. They see the cute pictures and videos on social media and adopt a pet with good intentions, not realizing the responsibilities they have assumed.
  • Changes in circumstances. Sometimes, even the best and most responsible pet owners have to surrender their pets due to changes in life circumstances. This can include things like moving houses, losing a job, or bringing home a new human family member.
  • Behavioral issues. Dogs can be extremely hard to train, and if owners don’t have the time and patience to train their pets themselves or the money to afford a trainer, serious behavioral issues can arise.

The important thing to note here is that most dog owners have run into challenges at some point while owning their pets. There’s absolutely no shame in admitting you bit off more than you can chew. However, abandoning your dog by dumping them in the country is never, ever the right answer.

What to Do if You’re in Over Your Head

Stray Beautiful Dog Lean Out From Cage And Looking At Human. Dog Abandoned in Shelter and Waiting For His Family
Image Credit: Julia Gerasina, Getty Images

If you’ve adopted a dog and realize after a few weeks or months that you’ve bit off more than you can chew, you have plenty of options that don’t involve dumping them out in the country.

Here are some options you should consider for finding your pup a home:
  • Rehome them with a friend or family member
  • Rehome them to someone in your community
  • Surrender them to your local humane society
  • Ask local dog trainers or professionals in your community if they know any good homes

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Final Thoughts

Dog dumping is one of the cruelest ways to give up a pet you can no longer care for, and it happens far, far too often. The dogs that wind up dumped in the country rarely ever get the happy ending they deserve. If you’re in over your head with a pup you’ve adopted, please know there are many resources and options for you that don’t involve abandoning your pet and sentencing them to a shortened life and potentially traumatic death.

Featured Image Credit: DELBO ANDREA, Shutterstock

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