From time to time, people find that they cannot properly care for their dog, and they need to place him in more capable hands.
While this is a difficult process with which affected dogs must cope, it is certainly better than allowing them to suffer and endure a poor quality of life.
No matter the circumstances, this is usually a tough time for owners. Many are not sure where to turn, and don’t know where they can surrender their pup. We’ll examine some of the issues central to the challenge here, in hopes of providing a little assistance for families faced with this dilemma.
Reasons You May Need to Surrender Your Dog
It is always preferable to keep a dog for his entire life, as changes in familial status can be quite traumatic. Dogs bond deeply with their families, and they can become depressed, anxious, or suffer from a variety of behavioral problems in response to such upheaval.
However, it isn’t always possible to keep a pet. Sometimes, the universe simply throws you a curveball, forcing you to do things you never thought you’d have to do. We have an entire guide to help you decide whether or not it’s time to rehome your pet. Some of the most common reasons people must surrender a dog include:
- A change in the family composition. For example, the person who normally cared for the dog may go away to school, or a new person who is not comfortable living with a dog may join the family.
- A change in living situation. You may be forced, for example, to move to a place that is not pet-friendly, or your landlord may decide he no longer wants your dog to live in the house.
- The dog may have unresolvable behavioral issues, such as aggression.
- One or more of the people in the home may develop pet allergies.
- You may suffer an injury or illness that precludes you from properly caring for your dog.
Places to Surrender Your Dog Free or Nearly Free
Most major metropolitan areas are home to several non-profit organizations that will accept your dog. Such organizations may be more difficult to find in rural areas, so you may have to travel some distance to find an acceptable place.
As a rule, shelters are typically managed and operated at the local level. So, you’ll have to look around a bit (Google is your friend) to find the shelters operating in your area.
Different shelters have different policies regarding surrendered dogs. Some will take any dog presented to them, without charging any fees.
However, because most shelters are non-profit organizations that lack the financial wherewithal to care for an unlimited number of dogs, many will charge owners a fee to surrender their dog.
If the fee will be an issue for you, simply inform the shelter staff that you don’t have the funds, and they’ll most likely be able to take the dog for free or use money previously donated to cover the surrender fee.
Just call ahead and find out what the procedures and policies of the shelter are before making the trip over. You may, for example, also be allowed to donate any uneaten food, as well as toys, crates and other pet-care supplies.
Don’t worry about the shelter staff making you feel bad or giving you a guilt trip about surrendering your pet. In fact, most shelters train their employees to be understanding and considerate of owners in these types of situations. Most shelter employees are pet lovers themselves, and they will understand just how heartbreaking it is to surrender your four-footed friend.
A Completely Free Rehoming Option
If you can’t find a local shelter or rescue that works for you and your pooch, you may want to investigate Rehome. Rehome is affiliated with Adoptapet.com, and it is intended to help owners find a new family for their four-footer.
The process is completely free for owners (adopters will have to pay a small fee), and you’ll have the chance to pick out the family or individual who ends up with your pooch.
We decided to check out the process by setting up a dummy account. This way, we could help our readers understand what to expect. Don’t worry – I let a Rehome representative know we were doing so. We didn’t want to create any additional work for the staff.
Here’s how it works:
Start by visiting the Rehome Home Page. There, you can check out some information on the program and see a cute video of a darling little doggo. Once you’re ready to begin, just click the “Get Started” icon.
On the next page, you’ll need to start answering questions about the pet you’d like to rehome.
- Are you rehoming a dog, cat or other pet?
- Has your dog bitten anyone in the last 10 days?
- Is your pet spayed or neutered?
- Why do you need to rehome your pet?
- How long are you able to keep your pet while we help you find a suitable new home?
The first few questions are simple enough. The question about biting is likely a way that Rehome seeks to filter potential rabies cases (dogs with rabies rarely live longer than 10 days).
The fourth question, however, may make some owners squirm a bit. Just be honest to ensure the best outcome for your pooch. Rehome isn’t trying to judge you or make you feel bad; they’re just trying to understand why you need to find a new home for your pet.
There are several options available from the dropdown menu, including things like ongoing costs, behavioral issues, landlord problems, and allergies.
The final question gives you options ranging between less than 1 week to more than 2 months (there’s also an “other” option, which allows you to enter a date).
On the next page, you’ll provide more basic information:
- Email address
- Password (you’ll make one)
- Personal info, including your name and phone number
- Pet’s location (city, state, and zip code – no street address necessary)
- Receive adopter questions via text? (Yes/No)
You’ll then need to check a box affirming that you’re over 18, and another affirming that you agree to Rehome’s terms and conditions.
On the next page, you’ll start providing more information about your pet. This includes:
- Your pet’s name
- Your pet’s breed
- Your pet’s second breed (if you have a mixed breed doggo)
- Age (puppy, young, adult, or senior)
- Size (under 25 pounds, 26 to 60 pounds, 61 to 100 pounds, or 101 pounds or more)
- Color (there are nearly 30 options)
You’ll then be prompted to upload one to four photos of your pupper. You can even add a video if you like.
After uploading photos and videos (if you choose), you’ll need to answer some more basic questions about your pooch. Each question listed below gives you three options: yes, no, or unknown.
- Shots up to date?
- Good with dogs?
- Good with cats?
- Good with kids?
- Has special needs?
- Needs experienced adopter?
The last three questions are optional – you needn’t answer them if you don’t want to.
You’ll then have a chance to “share your pet’s story.” Include some adjectives to describe your pooch and be sure to let prospective owners know about her personality. This is your chance to “sell” your doggo and show prospective adopters how awesome she is.
Below this section, you’ll have the chance to explain what food your dog eats, and any dietary facts prospective adopters should know.
On the last page, Rehome will ask you to agree to a fee. But this fee is not charged to you – it is charged to whoever adopts your dog. Note that you don’t get the fee; Rehome uses the funds to help support rescues and shelters. It appears that you have no choice in this matter.
They’ll then ask you one final question: How did you hear about Rehome. There are a few options from which you can choose. After making your selection, you’ll be prompted to check your inbox and verify your email address. Click on the button in the email and your pet’s profile will go live.
At this point, you simply need to sit back and wait for texts from prospective adopters.
The Dos and Don’ts of Surrendering a Dog
Regardless of the specifics involved for you and your pet, there are a few things you’ll always want to do when finding him a new home, as well as a few things you should avoid doing.
- Try to find a home for your pet before defaulting to a shelter. Shelters are collectively faced with millions of abandoned, surrendered, and stray pets each year, and the fewer pets they take in, the better.
- Continue to care properly for your pet while seeking a suitable shelter or home. It is not your dog’s fault that you must surrender him (even if he is suffering from behavioral issues), and he still deserves to be treated well in the interim.
- Strive to select a new family for your pet that will suit your pet’s personality. For example, you don’t want your husky to go to a family of homebodies, nor do you want your sensitive Shih Tzu to go to a family that already has three rowdy dogs.
- Research the reputation of animal shelters in your area. If you do end up needing to take your dog to a shelter to surrender him, do your research! Different shelters have different policies, and not all are five-star organizations. Do your due diligence when choosing a reputable animal shelter where your furry pal will get his best 2nd chance. Don’t be terrified of taking your dog to an open-admission shelter (aka a “kill shelter), as many of these only put down dogs with extreme aggression issues or dire medical problems. Discuss with the shelter staff what your dog’s chances are of finding a new home quickly – everyone wants your dog to succeed!
- Leave your dog unattended outside a shelter in the middle of the night. This is dangerous for your dog and irresponsible. However, some shelters place a kennel outside their front door, for owners who are too ashamed to drop their dog off in person. While this will still be traumatizing for your dog (and should be avoided if possible), it is safer than just tying him to a tree.
- Withhold important information, such as behavioral problems, to convince someone to adopt him. Doing so only perpetuates the pet-surrendering cycle, as the new owner will not be prepared for the problems your dog presents, and will likely have to surrender him to another shelter.
- Set your animal free in the wilderness. Dogs are domestic animals who are likely to suffer greatly if forced to live “on their own.” While it is true that some dogs adapt to a feral lifestyle well enough, the majority surely fall victim to disease or injury in a brief period of time.
Alternative Approaches for Finding Your Dog a New Home
Before finding a place to surrender your pet, you should explore some alternative approaches to your problem. After all, approximately 20% of the dogs who enter shelters nationwide ultimately end up being euthanized, so you owe it to your pooch to give him the best chance at a long, healthy life.
For example, you may be able to avoid surrendering a dog for behavioral issues by simply working with a competent trainer. If you have health issues which prevent you from walking your dog regularly, you may find that one of the neighborhood kids would be happy to help out with these duties.
If your landlord is not happy with your pet situation, try to sit him or her down for a heart-to-heart discussion. Try to negotiate a compromise that will satisfy all parties. For example, you may offer to pay an extra deposit or pay for the cleaning bills once you move out.
Fortunately, landlord-tenant problems relating to pets are likely to become less common in the future.The number of pet-loving families has exploded over the past few decades, and many rental homes and apartments now welcome pets (yes, even large dogs) with open arms.
You can also try to place your dog in a new home yourself. Get the word out by putting up a message on social media or placing signs at the local pet store or shelter. Just be sure that the new owner understands any issues your dog may have and gets along well with your dog (be sure to set up a meeting before making a commitment).
It is also worth noting that a number of organizations exist solely to provide owners with help, so that they can avoid having to surrender their pet. Such organizations may be able to help you find appropriate housing or even assist with medical bills. Many shelters will help provide owners with food, bedding, and any other costs that may be impeding you from keeping your dog.
Shelters know that your dog will be happiest with his family, so they’re often more than willing to help in any way they can. Don’t be afraid to call and discuss your situation!
Have you ever been forced to rehome or surrender a dog? We’d love to hear about your experiences, if you are up to it. It’s definitely a difficult thing to endure, but your story may help others in the same situation.