Dogs are one of the most common choices regarding family pet selection. But despite just how sweet and loving most family canines are, many never have a chance to live long and fulfilling lives.
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A new study published in the journal Animal Welfare this week by researchers from the Royal Veterinary College reveals the horrible, sad truth: that dogs in the U.K. are being euthanized at an alarmingly high rate.
As it would seem, 33% of deaths involving dogs under three years of age in the U.K. fall into this category. In total, that’s around 21,000 dogs being needlessly killed by their owners, and that eye-popping figure doesn’t even include relevant data from around the rest of the globe.
But why exactly are canine euthanization rates so high? Simply put, many of the animals possess undesirable traits, such as aggression, disobedience, or excessive barking to name a few, and pet owners aren’t happy with it.
The study highlighted how male and small dogs were more likely to be euthanized than female or large dogs. Furthermore, specific dog breeds such as the Cocker Spaniel, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and West Highland White Terrier, were euthanized because of undesirable behavior most often.
It's possible to prevent many of these so-called undesirable traits in dogs with proper training; therefore, the findings underscore the importance of teaching dog owners about how to properly train their pet. As the study’s authors note, doing so could reduce the number of dogs that are euthanized each year and improve the quality of life and welfare for pets and pet owners alike.
“This study is the biggest study ever undertaken on behavioral reasons for deaths in young dogs in the U.K.,” explained Dr. Dan O'Neill, the lead author of the study.
“It suggests the importance of good socialization of puppies by breeders, of sensible breed selection by owners and of careful dog training after acquiring a dog, to ensure that the lives of dogs and owners are fulfilling for all parties involved.”
The study also suggests that many dogs express undesirable behavioral traits as emotional responses to cruel punishments, such as beating or electric shock collars. That said, pet owner-induced fear and anxiety may play a role, and educating the public about proper training tactics could help.
“Greater awareness of the scale of this issue can be the first step towards reducing the problems and making the lives of thousands of our young dogs happier,” O’Neil added.