Of dogs, people, and SES

So, I’ve been a little dog-obsessed since Tuesday.  Both in sadness in Sasha’s passing and in concern/anticipation in finding a new dog.  I’ve actually been somewhat surprised just how hard I’ve been taking the loss of Sasha and I’ve got to say, there’s really something to be emotionally prepared for a death rather than it happening all of a sudden.  I’ve truly been sad and depressed.   When Sasha’s predecessor, Lira, died back in 2009, I wrote the following:

I’ll also mention that I’m so glad we got Sasha before she died because I think it would be extra sad to all of a sudden just not be a dog-owner any more.

Very true.  Part of it is that I’ve been a dog owner every day since August 1998 and all of a suddenly I’m not.  I do hate that.  So, not that we can “replace” Sasha, but we are looking to be a dog family again as soon as possible and I’ve been spending lots of time on breed rescue websites and a little bit looking at shelters.  A few observations…

1) What the hell is wrong with people?!  Why the hell do so many people make a commitment to a sweet, loyal, and sentient being and totally renege?  So sad.

2) Who are those people?  I’ve never actually known anybody to give up a dog that didn’t personally find a good home for it.  I suspect that the rate of dog abandonment/surrender is substantially higher for those of lower SES.  And, I’m also thinking it’s also much higher for those in rural areas.  I doubt there’s any data on this, but I’d love to see some.

3) Related to point #2, I really wonder about how SES and urban/rural relates to breed ownership.  The Durham and Wake County shelters seemed to be almost half pit bulls (though I love how the Wake shelter always referred to them as American Staffordshire mixed).  The shelters in rural counties had a much broader mix.  I also wonder how much of that is Raleigh-area rescue groups taking many of  the most adoptable dogs and disproportionately leaving pit bulls behind (and I imagine there’s many fewer rescue groups in rural areas).  Obviously, richer people are more likely to own purebreds, but I’d also love to see some information on breed ownership and other demographics.

Alright, hopefully next dog-related post will be to announce a new one.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

4 Responses to Of dogs, people, and SES

  1. Bob Andron says:

    We lost a dog within 24 hours of him having been bit by a snake. It took me several weeks of, well, patience, for the memory of Sammy to not always be in front of my mind. It was a terrible feeling. We had two other dogs, who are still with us, along with “Stretch” – our new dog. Suzy and I a dog family – and we feel it deeply.

  2. Mike from Canada says:

    I like looking through the local online buy and sell, but some times it really peeves me when I see over and over and over “Free cat” or “Free dog”.

    One day I was looking and saw “Free child” (paraphrasing) “We thought we wanted a child, but then decided he’s just too much work to properly train. Yes we sure are thoughtless horrible people aren’t we? So why is this OK with dogs and cats? And no, there actually is no child.”

    The loss of my dog was very hard. The problem is you never quite know if your doing the right thing. Are they suffering? Should they have just a bit more time? Is there something I could have done? At what point is too much money for vet bills? My daughter’s friend just spend ten thousand dollars on vet bills, and the dog still died a week later from organ failure. She is not wealthy, it’s going to take her a long time to pay off the bill. She still blames herself for not deciding to spend the money sooner.

  3. Mike Barr says:

    We lived in Philly when we searched the shelters for a dog (in 2002). We had to go out to Voorhees NJ (suburbia) to find dogs that weren’t pit bulls or German shepherds. We were told that our dog (some kind of furry terrier) and a very sweet cockapoo cam from kill-shelter in West Virginia. So maybe there is a pipeline from rural to urban areas. I felt sorry for the pit bulls. Many of the pit bulls that arrive at the urban shelters can’t be put up for adoption because they are too mean and not socialized.

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