by Priscilla Feral

During the last few months, I’ve noticed a chilling number of dogs and cats dumped and left to die most everywhere. 

In Connecticut, a dog was found tied to a tree in South Windsor; a young bulldog was abandoned at the base of a tree in Page Park in Bristol; and a puppy was dumped on a street on the East Haven and New Haven line. Surveillance video showed the puppy chasing after the departing vehicle.  

Absolutely gut-wrenching. 

Beyond Connecticut, dogs have been discovered tied to trees in their yards after owners apparently found them too inconvenient to keep when they moved away. One dog ran around the yard and back and forth to the doors of the house, hoping someone would appear and let them inside.  

photo credit: Larry Box

Then there were two German shepherds found tied to railroad tracks; 11 German shepherd puppies left to die in the deep woods of Ridgeway, Virginia; and just this week, eight puppies were abandoned in a field in North Texas. 

A big black and white dog named Chevy was left for dead on the side of the road in Alabama, but luckily for him a man stopped and picked him up after seeing him twice. Chevy was skin and bones, so starved I couldn’t understand how he could stand. The man took Chevy to a veterinarian’s office, and then he nursed him back to health. After the man’s two pugs took a liking to Chevy and he was well enough to go through the surgery, his new owner took him in to be neutered. I loved seeing pictures of Chevy looking whole again with his new family. 

What’s prompted this epidemic of pet abandonment, this crime wave? 

Yes, pet abandonment is a crime because unfortunately, under the law, cats and dogs are legal property. In nearly all 50 states, “abandoning” an animal is classified as animal abuse, a criminal offense. In the state of Massachusetts, for example, it’s considered a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine up to $2,500. In Arkansas, depending on the specific circumstances and the level of “cruelty” involved in how you treat or abandon your animal, the charge will range from a misdemeanor to a Class D felony with a possible six-year prison sentence and $10,000 fine. 

That’s well deserved! 

I’m tired of looking at photos of abandoned, almost dead dogs who had been exploited to produce litters or that were used to temporarily entertain someone until the owner lost interest. 

Obviously, pet abandonment is an unacceptable way to “rehome” a dog. But it’s also intolerable to acquire a dog or cat if you’re not willing to make a lifelong commitment. 

Pet-owners who enjoy the word “rehoming” to wash their hands of guilt associated with unloading the animal they no longer want must dread taking responsibility.  

I cannot comprehend why people who abandon pets don’t surrender the dog or cat to Animal Control or find a shelter or rescue group to give the animal a chance of a decent, lifetime home. Whatever motivated those people to acquire a dog or cat in the first place? 

On the Nextdoor social media app, stray cats are a familiar topic, with neighbors posting photos of young cats who hang around their doors to be fed, asking if they’re someone’s lost cat. They’re rarely lost; they’re abandoned, hungry and bewildered.  

Currently there’s a black cat in Stamford, Connecticut, who was thought to be 8 months old. The person posting about the cat had been feeding it and already had cats of his own. I asked him to take the cat inside and please keep him – that Friends of Animals would cover the cost of spaying or neutering through our breeding control program.  

Neighbors commenting about the black cat in Stamford were surprised to hear that Stamford Animal Control doesn’t accept stray cats, they must be “owner-surrendered,” and all suggested he call various cat shelters and rescue groups.  

The dilemma is that every city is different in Connecticut and across the country when it comes to managing strays.  

Meanwhile, there’s always the guilt-free appeals about neighbors hoping to “rehome” three kittens, while they ask for $100 to cover their costs of litter. One person reading the post asked to see photos of the kittens, and one said she wanted one. Adult cats lucky enough to get inside a shelter don’t produce the same level of intrigue and excitement. 

All homeless animals—young and old— need to find people willing to take them in and commit to their lifelong care. They also need foster homes and foster-to-adopt homes. A needed gesture is to volunteer to assist a rescue group in that effort so that dogs and cats have a fighting chance to get the care and love they deserve for the rest of their lives. 

Another way you can help: Consider supporting Friends of Animals’ spay-neuter program, which can be accessed at or by calling 1-800-321-PETS. Our spay-neuter certificates are available for purchase online, or by phone, and honored by 350 licensed veterinarians in most states around the country. You can also underwrite the cost of a certificate by donating one, which will then be distributed to an individual or shelter at Friends of Animals’ discretion. Supporters may make an individual donation of a spay and/or neuter certificate for a cat or dog, or they may also make the donation in someone else’s honor.