Posted 12/8/20, Last Updated 3/15/23
Thinking of getting rid of a dog for a baby? Read this first before making your decision!
Recently, my human’s friends “gave away” their senior dog several months after their newborn passed the 1-year mark. The sweet rescue Chihuahua named Elvis had been living with his best human pal long before the baby’s arrival, the wedding (4 years, 7 months ago), and even before his human met his now wife (nearly 6 years ago). As the toddler advanced from crawling to walking, he clanged and banged just about everything, causing extreme fear and severe anxiety for Elvis. In response, poor Elvis would bark and hyperventilate so much that he ended up getting a collapsed trachea. Sadly, he will now have to stay on meds for the rest of his life. 🙁 Yet the tragic injury to his trachea is on top of his daily flight from terror a.k.a. the baby’s chases and “hugs.”
If you’ve ever worked with rescue organizations or shelters, you can attest that getting rid of a dog for a baby is one of the top reasons for surrendering or rehoming. Disturbingly, my humans cannot get past another year without hearing that yet another friend has given away OR is considering giving up their dog after the arrival of a newborn. With the rise of “pandemic puppies” that are allowing for-profit breeders and evil puppy mills to charge ridiculous prices to meet the demand, my humans and I fear that it’s only a matter of time until dogs will overpopulate shelters once again.
The same ol’ reasons have tired out our ears – for instance, not having enough “time” for the dog anymore, the dog has entered into depression after the baby’s arrival (or in the case of Elvis, fear and anxiety), or the dog is acting “aggressive” towards the baby, etc. BTW – dogs don’t bite for no reason, but will bite out of fear, stress, anxiety, or threat. Just a year ago, my humans heard about an acquaintance’s deranged husband KILLING their loyal Boxer named Buddy out in the field for nipping at the baby (no real physical harm done). In case you’re wondering, killing your dog IS illegal in many states, including California, where Buddy lived.
Before Buddy’s brutal murder, a close friend of that acquaintance was looking to give away her well-behaved Bouvier des Flandres named BJ. BJ has been kept primarily in a backyard dog house as she and her husband admittedly neglected him for several years after starting a family. As they’re now on their 3rd child, BJ hardly gets any walks or dog park outings despite being a large dog with his own physical needs. Yet this is the same couple who celebrated BJ’s birthday with a cake and party hats and frequently sent his pictures to friends long BEFORE their “human” kids came into their lives. And yet, this couple has expressed interest in having a 4th child.
With such endless sorrowful stories of neglect and surrender within my humans’ social circles alone, can you imagine what happens throughout the rest of the country or the world? My humans even know of new parents who surrendered their cat due to the same ol’ lack of “time” reason even though cats are more hands-off and independent. As these new parents continuously bombard their childless friends with unrequested, unwanted videos and pictures of their kids, my humans can only pray that those with dogs (or cats) are not severely neglecting their furry family members upon the arrival of the newborn.
Getting rid of a dog for a baby is sadly a common yet often justified occurrence
While I’m happy to hear that Elvis is in a better home without having to suffer from the terrifying noise and badgering of a toddler, it breaks my little Yorkie heart to know that getting rid of a dog for a baby is such a common yet often justified occurrence. As a dog who was surrendered twice (and yes, the first time was due to the arrival of a newborn), I can only bark that I’m in a much better place compared to being crated over 16-18 hours a day in the garage. Seriously, how many garage or backyard dogs can say that they transformed into human trainers, run the lives of their humans, or have set their paws in over 20 countries? Sure, we can all agree that in some cases, getting rid of a dog for a baby is a blessing in disguise – if the dog ends up in a better home. However, such reasoning should NOT justify the decision of new parents for abandoning their “first” or “practice” baby or “one and only” baby at one point in their lives.
Dogs are NOT toys
Although dogs are resilient creatures, they are NOT toys to be passed around or dumped whenever humans become bored with or tired of dealing. To bring a dog home is to enter a life-long commitment with a new family member. If you only see your dog as “property” or disposable items that you can get rid of at any time, then please do NOT get a dog. I am begging you. Dogs are not only loyal creatures, but they’re also sentient beings who can feel emotions like humans. WOOF, believe it or not, dogs can feel scared, anxious, lonely, and sad just like YOU.
Imagine that you’ve spent your entire life with your family. A baby suddenly enters your home stealing all the attention, and then you’re eventually dropped off to an unfamiliar place (whether it’s a shelter or another home). Or perhaps, you’ve spent a good chunk of your life hopping around to numerous homes from shelters in hopes of finding your forever family; sadly, you’re continuously given up by different families for whatever reason they deemed justified. Can you imagine how terrified you’d feel? Dogs are no different. Like humans, they’d grieve for their families after separation (even if their families were never good to them in the first place). Just because dogs can’t express themselves in the human language doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings.
It’s all about prioritization
Even the new parents who used to treat their dogs like babies and put them in the center of attention will suddenly find themselves overwhelmed with a newborn baby with lower tolerance for a needy dog. I’d get it – as a new parent, you barely find time to sleep or shower yourself as your waking hours are spent attending to your human baby, the new center of your attention. However, just because your newborn has entered your life doesn’t mean that you should neglect, push aside, or surrender your dog who is completely confused by the new environment and dynamics. It’s also important to have an identity outside of parenthood as you’re a sovereign being. Before the arrival of your child, your dog went through all phases of life with you just like Elvis did with his human. But then you get married, have kids, and just dump him or her aside like a used toy? Ultimately, dogs deserve better. And, it’s NEVER about not having “time”; I abhor hearing that because we all have the same 24-hours in a day. Essentially, it’s what you CHOOSE to do within those 24-hours and what you CHOOSE to prioritize.
“We just don’t have time for him anymore. We feel so bad for neglecting him. He deserves a better life so we are finding him a better home.”
If you feel bad for not taking your dog(s) on those daily walks because you have your hands full with three kids, then SCHEDULE a time every single day to take them out OR seek help from a dog walker or family member. Giving dogs the attention and care they deserve is NOT impossible, but it means putting them as PRIORITY like you do with your kids. If you want to stop neglecting your dog, then STOP neglecting your dog. If you want to give your dog more attention, then DO IT. If you keep telling your friends that seeing your dog suffer is too hard and you just can’t do that to him or her anymore, then NEWS FLASH – then STOP doing it! Show LOVE to your dogs as they love you. Take a proactive approach by acting on your own desires and taking control of your life.
Nonetheless, most parents do not take action because they lack the burning desire to do so. All the new parents my humans know spend a lot of time posting pictures of their babies on social media or texting pictures to their family and friends. Just cutting down on social media alone would free up ample time for them to bond with their dogs. Again, it’s all about time management and proactivity. However, they don’t take a proactive approach probably because they perceive their child’s well-being as superior to their dog’s. If they wanted to attend to their dog, they would do it. Instead, their dog has dropped so low on the totem pole that they are easily irritated with their dog’s desperate yearn for attention. Take control of your life by changing your mindset NOW.
“IF YOU REALLY WANT TO DO SOMETHING YOU’LL FIND A WAY. IF YOU DON’T, YOU’LL FIND AN EXCUSE.” – JIM ROHN
Dogs always get the shorter end of the stick
Besides the overused “time” reason that justifies neglect, another reason for getting rid of a dog for a baby is when they don’t get along. Many dogs, especially Yorkies, HATE children. Parents are quick to put a dog down for nipping at their child, but again, the truth is that dogs do NOT bite for no reason. Young children unknowingly or knowingly do distasteful things that dogs hate, from forcing hugs to carrying them around like a teddy bear to not knowing the proper way to pet. Although most dog bites are triggered by obnoxious children who may or may not know any better, dogs like Buddy ALWAYS bear the brunt of the punishment, which may mean death in many cases. Seriously, how is that fair?? Obnoxious children who do their fair share of harassing the family dog are rarely lectured or punished as animal abuse by children is merely seen as “innocent” play. Find out why dogs hate your child.
Unfortunately, most parents do not or choose not to recognize the harassment that their dog endures from children. I’ve been chased, teased, taunted and mishandled by despicable children. In my hometown San Francisco, my humans’ friend’s toddler laughed hysterically as he chased me around in his house. As soon as I growled to warn him to stop, my human protected me by placing me on her lap. Subsequently, the friend half-jokingly said to my humans, “If that dog does something to my kid, I’ma abuse that dog. I had to kick my cousin’s dog one time.” Needless to say, my humans are no longer friends with this animal abuser. In Croatia, I was slapped on the head by a toddler whose dad said he just wanted to say “hi.” Can you imagine what would have happened if it were the other way around? The dad would probably demand that my humans put me to sleep! I can’t tell you how many rescue dogs I’ve met who suffered from a history of abuse from children.
In Spain, I witnessed many young children purposely step on the family dogs’ paws, causing them to yelp in pain while the parents stand around. In Italy, I befriended this senior Chihuahua that had his penis mutilated by a child. But, of course, as you can guess, the innocent dog was the one who was given up. Mothers frequently assert that they “would do everything to protect their baby” to justify giving up their dog who’s suddenly showing aggression (again, dogs don’t bite for no reason). But when the baby is the perpetrator, the dog is still given up. Regardless, dogs get the shorter end of the stick with such one-sided punishment.
Hence, it is imperative parents MUST teach both dogs and children to respect each other’s boundaries from the beginning and place them in separate areas until they learn to respect each other. Dog bites ARE easily preventable, but it’s up to the parents to foster a respectful, healthy relationship between the dog and child early on through positive reinforcement. Learn how to introduce a baby or child to a dog.
Why it’s so easy to “get rid” of a dog
If you have a new baby and your older child doesn’t get along with him or her, do you simply get rid of the child? NO! Why is it so easy to get rid of a dog for a baby? Alarmingly, dogs are only regarded as things or property when they are sentient beings who deserve better. With lagging animal rights protection laws around the world, humans can surrender their dogs without any repercussions, which doesn’t necessarily make it right.
Even if your child is “allergic” to your dog, there are ways to manage or treat allergies if you would do some research or discuss with a healthcare professional. OR if your dog is acting up around your baby (most likely due to jealousy, which is understandable), then please seek help from a dog behaviorist or trainer if you’ve exhausted your efforts of positive reinforcement training. Bottom line – getting rid of a dog for a baby doesn’t always have to be the automatic option.
The hidden meaning behind getting rid of a dog
When you get rid of your dogs (whether you dump them in the middle of nowhere or dedicate hours on end in finding them a “good” home), you are teaching your children to GIVE UP when things get tough. But worse, you are perpetuating the foundation of animal abuse – that dogs are inferior, disposable property that you can get rid of at will. You are perpetuating the human-superior, dog-inferior relationship that consistently breeds animal cruelty around the world. It’s because you believe that your children are ABOVE your dog and so much more important than any animal – including one who has loved you unconditionally.
It almost seems as though most parents want robotic dogs who will go along for the ride – for instance, let their kids do practically anything to them, still sit there obediently, and be a “good” dog (what does that mean anyway?!!). If dogs ever refuse to tolerate your child’s daily pester, then you quickly resort to surrendering them because it’s just a dog. This uneven human-superior, dog-inferior relationship is THE ROOT to all animal abuse and cruelty, generating overpopulation, abandonment, neglect, and inhumane treatment of dogs. Just think about all the lonely backyard or tethered dogs you’ve stumbled upon in your lifetime. 🙁
Don’t get a dog unless…
If you don’t see dogs as equal, irreplaceable family members, then please do not get a dog in the first place. I urge you to save them from suffering and lower the demand for puppies that contribute to inhumane, for-profit breeding. Just don’t do it. If you say you love dogs but don’t see them as an equal to your future baby, then again, don’t get a dog. Dogs are NOT “practice” babies or placeholders for babies. Dogs are sentient, loyal beings who LOVE humans so much. Just as you would never even consider giving up a child for another, please have the same compassionate consideration for your dogs. If you truly believe that humans inevitably hold a higher value than dogs, then again, PLEASE DO NOT GET A DOG IN THE FIRST PLACE.
It’s human nature to love your own flesh and blood, but it truly takes a BIGGER heart to love and treat dogs AS IF they were your real child. When you teach your child to respect as love dogs (and cats) as EQUALS (e.g. irreplaceable precious family members), you are teaching them a valuable lesson that progressively shapes the future generation on humane treatment of animals. It helps battle the harsh realities of animal cruelty that exist even in nations where people call their dogs “babies.”
The ends don’t necessarily justify the means
Justifying your decision to get rid of a dog for a baby doesn’t necessarily mean that you did the “right” thing. Just because you believe that it was the “right” thing to do to get rid of your dog and you don’t have any “regrets” because your dog is in a better place does NOT justify your decision. Whether you realize it or not, you’ve treated your dog as an inferior. Instead of giving your children and dogs the equal level of love and care they deserve, you’ve asserted that a dog’s life is not as worthy as a human’s, which again, perpetuates the basis for animal abuse and cruelty. Animal suffering is directly caused by humans based on the perception of human superiority.
However, if you feel like you’ve exhausted all your options and still decide to get rid of a dog for a baby, then of course, the decision is ultimately up to you. With laxed animal protection laws even in the most progressive animal-loving countries, the surrendering of your dog is often, unfortunately, still legal as long as you don’t dump your dog. As a dog advocate, I will be forever thankful if you’re dedicating time to ensure that your dog gets adopted by a good family. However, just please don’t try to justify your actions.
Markin’ it up,
Roger Wellington a.k.a. The Doob