Family Heartbroken after Leaving Dog in Shelter Because of Family Member with Cancer

It’s easy to be judgmental. A family leaves their beloved dog in a shelter and people judge.

The volunteers at Rescue Me Tampa Shelter Dogs who take pictures of the

Shadow at home

dogs at the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center in Tampa, Florida and then network those dogs on Facebook are not as quick to condemn. They told Shelter Me:

It was heartbreaking. I personally spoke to the family. Shadow is an owner surrender due to the owners having to move into a small apartment due to the cost and take care of a family member with chemo treatments. It is a very sad story, and the owner is heartbroken. He tried to find him a home and has had no luck. This was the last option. Shadow thinks he is a small dog and lived with them in the past. He is good with children and housebroken. He was kept indoors and is neutered.
Shadow has not done well in the shelter at all. He was very scared when he came in, and he was so terrified that there is a note that he bit someone at intake when being taken back to the kennels. His video (below) shows a depressed dog who takes treats gently from the visitor. He needs help badly.
Often, beloved family dogs who are left in a shelter are terrified of the new surroundings, the chaos, the cacophony of barking and yelping and the strangers. The owner told the volunteer, “He was the best friend ever.” And the family had taken good care of Shadow.

Shadow in better days at his home

He was neutered and taken to the vet. Sometimes, circumstances are such that people (and their pets) need some help. While some say, “I would live in my car before I would give up my dog,” it’s not quite so easy if one’s child has cancer and needs treatment.
What is certain is that if Shadow is lucky enough to get adopted or pulled by a rescue, he will need time to decompress before he is introduced to other animals or even many people. Please share his story and give him a chance to find a new home. His owners will thank you. They are praying that he gets saved.

Shadow’s shelter video can be seen here

Shadow is ID# A1598937. He is located at the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center in Tampa, Florida. There may be  more information on how to help Shadow on his Facebook thread.

It’s something important to remember. Not all dogs surrendered by their owners mean they came from heartless homes. Sometimes, there just isn’t a choice. That’s when the community needs to step up. A local foster offer would save this dog’s life. It would also ease some heartache for this family in the throes of much pain.

Pamela Kramer

​Animal lover and rescuer. Lives with 4 cats, 4 dogs, 1 bird, 2 frogs and usually one foster animal (and very understanding husband). Reviews books (especially about animals) and educates children about compassion toward animals. Former household animals include rabbits, rats, and other assorted creatures. Also writes at


  1. Meeshell Love says:

    What happened to him? Is he still in this shelter? Can you find a way to get him to me?

  2. Judy freed says:

    I agree with Mary. This sweet baby helps with stress and illnesses and yes with this child’s cancer. I disagree that the family decided to tear this sweet baby and the child apart. If this baby doesn’t get rescued or adopted then shadow will be destroyed and how will this child cope. I think they need and should go back and get shadow. Shame on you. Shadow I pray that they come get you. A death sentence for you isn’t right.

  3. Suzanne says:

    It’s wonderful to see the judgments passed on this family here; makes me proud to be part of rescue.

  4. Ella Race says:

    I pray that this beautiful dog Shadow finds his forever home.

  5. Debi Bel says:

    So many f*cking heartless comments on this thread. All of you who are so quick to condemn the dog’s owners? Why don’t one of you step up to adopt this poor dog? Instead of adding only negative comments to this sad set of facts? Why not STEP UP TO HELP?

  6. Paul troalic says:

    We should not pass judgment but we would not surrender our lovely dog whatever happened. Agree with Mary in that an animal is a real boost in times of stress. Cancer is terrible and my wife had breast cancer but the thought of goiving our dog away did not enter our minds. In fact when we went into a hotel for my wife to be near the cancer hospital we got special dispensation from the manager to allow our dog to come stay with us for the month’s treatment. A dog is for life – they depend on us. We shouldn’t let them down. I am so sad for this little one. I hope he gets a second loving (permanent) home.

  7. mary says:

    does not sound like they tried to keep him. Usually animals are a God send when people are sick. They really help the person more at ease with their disease but does not sound like this dog stood a chance. Hope he finds a home soon or after awhile he will be put down.
    God Bless the beautiful furbaby and I am sure the person who is sick is also heartbroken. They needed each other.

  8. Sylvia Thomas says:

    Surrender in a high kill shelter?, he could done better .

  9. Lee Morrison says:

    I’m sorry. THERE IS ALWAYS A CHOICE. Period. Now this poor pup is slated to be KILLED. THERE IS ALWAYS A CHOICE!!!!!!!!!!! The family chose WRONG!

  10. Deb says:

    Shared with prayers for Shadow!

    1. rose gauthier says:

      I feel sorry for the dog he ends up in the pound cause a family member has cancer wow not good enough for me

  11. Marilyn Britton says:

    Shared please someone adopt this baby he must be so hurt & confused & I know his family would be so thankful please give this baby a good home

  12. Patti says:

    Maybe they could have looked for a nokill shelter or rescue to help them before they took him to a high kill shelter. I am sure that the shelter folks told them that owner surrenders can be killed without a hold time. I understand people have problems but ….

    1. Kaye says:

      Like Humane Society of Tampa Bay? Oh that’s right! They are a no kill but just transfer the non adoptable/easy to sell dogs to the high kill to keep their stats up! When was the last time you tried to place a none tiny cute little fluffy dog?

  13. Lorraine Boyd says:

    I will share far and wide to find Shadow a home. This is a road-tested dog; no worries with this sweetie. Read the story and open your heart!! Needs at least a FOSTER!!!

  14. Diana Roby says:

    Please read the article about this very special guy, Shadow. Through no fault of his own or his former family, Shadow finds himself at a high kill shelter. And he is in danger of becoming a victim of the dreaded black dog syndrome. We can’t allow that to happen. Shadow has been euth listed. He can be destroyed anytime. He needs a furever home or a foster home, pledges and a rescue group to oversee his care until he finds his furever home. Please help him get out of the shelter ASAP. Thank you.

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