The importance of dealing with behaviour problems
28th Dec, 2019
The PTS statistics for pets with behaviour problems are shocking. In the modern world, behaviour problems in pets cause more deaths and decisions to euthanise than cardiac disease, infectious disease and neoplasmia combined (Overall 2010).
A study of 2493 dogs in Denmark showed 23.6 % were euthanased in response to behavioural problems (Mikkelsen & Lund 1999).
An Amercian study found of 615 dogs relinquished to a rescue centre for euthanasia, 16% were to be PTS for behaviour problems (Wells 1996).
British researchers found 35% of dogs in rescue centres were relinquished due to behaviour problems (Corridan, Mills & Pffefer 2009). Even if not the initial reason for relinquishment, 80% of all rescue dogs studied developed one or more behaviour problems (Corridan 2010).
Salman (2010) found likewise dogs and reported that behaviour problems was the second most frequently given reason for feline relinquishment.
Behaviour problems are also one of the major reasons for rehoming or adoption failure: 1/3 of recently adopted dogs and cats were returned to a USA shelter because of behaviour problems (Shore 2005); and behaviour problems were cited in 22% of dog adoption failures in three Australian shelters (Marston et al. 2004).
A postal survey of rescued dogs from a shelter in Northern Ireland revealed that 68% had behaviour problems and 89.7% of those that returned dogs did so because of behaviour problems (Wells & Hepper 2000).
Between 2007 and 2013 hospital admissions for dog bites increased by 1691. The cost to the
NHS of dog bites now runs to more than £3 million. There have been 17 deaths due to dog attacks in the UK since 2005.
We need an across the board response to these shocking statistics. For instance, I have been
heartened to read in a recent issue of the Veterinary Times of vet Marc Abraham's success in raising a commons debate about puppy farming.
Whilst referral to a qualified behaviourist will not prevent all these relinquishments, PTS', bites and fatalities, it is a very good start!