Where Can I Surrender My Dog for Free?

Dog Adoption By Ben Team 11 min read December 19, 2019 113 Comments

how to surrender a pet

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.

Such fees can vary from as little as $20 to as much as $150 or more. Even if you find a shelter that accepts dogs for free, you should probably consider giving them a small donation if you can.

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.

how to rehome a dog

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.

  1. Are you rehoming a dog, cat or other pet?
  2. Has your dog bitten anyone in the last 10 days?
  3. Is your pet spayed or neutered?
  4. Why do you need to rehome your pet?
  5. 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)
  • Gender
  • 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?
  • Microchipped?
  • House-trained?
  • Good with dogs?
  • Good with cats?
  • Good with kids?
  • Purebred?
  • 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.

How to surrender your dog

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.

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Written by

Ben Team

Ben is the senior content editor for K9 of Mine and has spent most of his adult life working as a wildlife educator and animal-care professional. Ben’s had the chance to work with hundreds of different species, but his favorite animals have always been dogs. He currently lives in Atlanta, GA with his spoiled-rotten Rottweiler named J.B. Chances are, she’s currently giving him the eyes and begging to go to the park.


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Wendy Hagen

I have a 2and half year old American pit bull. We is very loving and a great dog
I need to regime her due to my disability

Ben Team

Sorry to hear that, Wendy.
Just try some of the resources discussed in the article, such as Rehome.
Best of luck!

Armando Arredondo

We are pet parents with several Pups that we need to find a forever home. Our 1yr old sweet girl “Rosie” got prego and taga!!! 8 healthy Lab / Pit mutts sprung out. We have managed to rehome 3 of the 8. We have posted on social media, word of mouth and co-workers to ask if they can spread the word about our pups. my wife and I have very challenging work schedules and my mom is pretty elderly and does her best to tend to the our pets. we have a few older dogs that pretty much take care of themselves but the pups can not. They are all kennel trained and treat trained to sit and lay down commands. Very friendly to everyone and have a lot of energy.

Can anyone help us?

Tori Walters

I have a 7 month old Chihuahua mixed with a terrier very playful energetic puppy we live in an apartment she just needs more room and space to run would love to get her a nice backyard with kids

Eddie Henderson

I have a Shiba ina mix with puggy I am trying to rehome. If you are interested please reply.

Larry Charles Stewart

Hi my name is Larry C Stewart, and I am yrs of age and I have a full BLOOD Rottweiler and I am not able to care for her because of financial difficulties and I’m trying to find a place to bring her to.


I’d love to see some pictures. What is themix?


I have a Great pier in knees lab two years old need to find a home my home is too small

Ben Team

I think you mean Great Pyrenees, Robert, although I think I like your spelling better.
Be sure to check the link to Rehome above.
Best of luck!


I have a 15 month old Australian Kelpie mix. We love him dearly but need to surrender him. He’s fiercely loyal to his family and loving but has fear aggression towards strangers and other animals. We’ve worked with a trainer and are currently but due to me owning a childcare out of my home the situation is just too challenging. He loves to play, run, knows basic commands, potty trained, loves his kennel, and is a great sleeper. If anyone can help please let me know. We love him dearly and are heartbroken but he needs more than we can give him.

Danielle McGaha

I need to rehire 12 dogs 2 adults and 10 puppies

Sandra Garcia

Unfortunately I need to surrender our dog.
Her name is Maya and she’s a 5month old Retriever mix.

Ben Team

Hey, Sandra. Sorry to hear you need to rehome your pup.
Check out the Rehome program we referenced above — it should help you find a good home for your pooch, and it won’t cost you anything.
Good luck!

Tammy Strong

I have a shizu and I have to get rid of him due to some health issues I am having. If someone wants him you can have him. His name is Oscar and he is chipped and up to date with shots and has been fixed. Please contact me asap.


I have a shitzu mix and he has diabetes he will not eat or drink anything it has been 4 days I am afraid he is dying I need help to see where I can take him for free I just lost my job so I have no money to get him put down can anyone help me find somewhere to take him so he can stop suffering

Ben Team

Hey, Terrie. So sorry to hear about your pooch and your tough times.
If you believe that your dog is suffering and that euthanasia would be the right option, I’d recommend calling around to local vets.
Vets aren’t charities, but many would surely be willing to work with you to help put an end to your dog’s suffering.
Best of luck.


Looking for a companion adult house-trained dog to join respectful skul age n adult in our home with lots of yard/field some fenced can do more if need. A walking and exploring buddy in the New ND the oil explosion has created: And Mountain forest fires have sent new animals to live here too-would be great! Any size as long as there’s a bark attached to the house-trained adult dog; Oh except Pitbulls are forbidden in our community.8


My daughter has a pitbull that was raised with two boys and 10 year old and an 8 year old that eight year old is very active and plays with the dog all the time it’s about almost a year old now and it loves to be with family at those to be up in your arms and loves to play we just can’t keep it no more because the landlord wants a charge for more money so she needs to get rid of it so we just need someone to help us find a good place for it it does need to be trained but it’s real loving once you’re around it his name is blue please give me a call at 562-394-2979 if you have any suggestion my name is Patty thank you


I have a very pregnant pitbull she is 4 years old and I can no longer care for her I don’t have any money to surrender her to a shelter or any where else please help me find her a home she loves kids and do not bite.


Unfortunately, my dog hes a terrier yorkie mix needs to be in a house
He loves to go out and unfortunately have to work to provide for him…I do not know what to do.
I really need advice i love him dearly hes up to date on shots and very good dog very small 10 pounds
But he really needs a house where he can run around in
I do not know where to take him to surrender him any advice and not ACC since that is where I got him from

Ginny galindo

I have to find someone that will lovingly take my Roxwiller he is a beauty, he is fixed, and great watch dog. I am no longer able to walk him and play with him, he needs someone strong and able to give him exercise and walk him


We have to re home our 11 month old male Doberman. By daughter has had horrible allergies since day one. As of now my parents are fostering for us but they cannot keep him much longer. I’ve tried social media but, everyone wants small dogs.


I am a senior, who needs to find good home for ” Miley” She a “Pit/Boxer” mix about 1 5 months old and a sweet & loving girl. I can no longer care for her, due to the fact that she has become too strong for me to handle due to health issues, and pending surgery in near future. She is current on shots.She needs room to run, someone who can spend time with her.


Good Evening

I live in Charleston SC I lived in a house but now I’m in an apt and can’t have my dog and my family is not able to come get her till the end of the month. I need somewhere for my LuLu to go for 3 weeks any suggestions. Please help

Ben Team

Hey, Viv.
Sorry about your difficulties. Could you board her? Three weeks probably wouldn’t be cheap, but it seems like a plausible option.
Best of luck!

Cindi Buntin

Hi i have a female Siberian husky all white that i can’t keep she is a little over a year old and ive had to move and i have until Monday to get rid of her i have no money to surrender her and idk what to do i have to get rid of her

Meg Marrs

Cindi – most shelters do not charge a fee for you to surrender a pet, especially if you explain your financial situation. Take your dog to a shelter!

Juan carlos Martinez

I would like donate my little dog. He is a male chihuahua and half paganizes. Very smart dog really well trained
also potty trained. The reason I need to get rid of him is because he needs a bigger home and a yard to play in. He also is very good with kids. I love my dog but unfortunately he needs a new home. we are very crowded in a 2 bed room apartment. and we no longer have room for him. I would like to donate him to a good home. Some one that will love him and take good care of him. He has all his shots and he is registered through the state of Salem, Oregon. Please let me know how or where I can donate him as soon as possible. his name is Peanut. Thank you for your time.

Jeannette C Ford

I need to surrender my 5 furry friends and I wish I didn’t have to but I have a busy schedule and I hate leaving them alone. I’m going to have a hard time letting them go but I would rather they be in a loving home.


With great pain I can no longer keep my pet. I had to give up my apartment and have been house and hotel staying. She is a 7 pound long hair Chihuahua. Very sweet yet protective, barks when alone. PLEASE HELP>>>>>

Norma Baker

I have a Jack Russell mix little guy that I rescue from a bad situation. He is much better place, and very sweet, however due to my work schedule I’m unable to give him the attention he needs. I work twelve hours shifts and he’s alone for very long hours. I feel it’s unfair and he deserves better. Please reach out to me if you can. Thank you

Aaleliah Dixon

Austin, Texas.
I have a 3 month old black “Golden Labradoodle” puppy. His name is Bear. He was born on June 13th this year. He’s an inside dog, kennel trained, follows commands and learns new ones quickly. He’s up to date on his shots and is currently on a flea, tick, and heart-worm preventative. He loves playing in the yard with my 4year old son. He also loves swimming in the lake! He has shy tendencies, but he has a VERY outgoing personality. Conflicts with my landlord will not permit me to keep him and it breaks my heart just writing this. I want him to be with an active family that will love him unconditionally and will allow him to play and be happy, without worrying about being abandoned. Someone who has the time to give him the attention he deserves and has the patience to teach him new things. Please reach out to me if you can provide him with a great, loving family that will treat him as one of their own.
Five, 1, two. 9, Three, four. 4, double eight, Two.

Thank you,
Bear’s Mama

Mya Yamamoto

Hi, my name is Mya.
I have a red nose pit bull, he is sweet I promise. He is great just around anyone who comes around him. He loves to play and give kisses and belly rubs. He is gray and white and is a year old. I am moving and can not take him with me. I really do not want to take him to a shelter. If interested please let me know.

Tina k

I HAVE to move back in with my mom she has health issues and I work 40 hrs a week my chuawa is 4 yrs old already fixed and chipped I need to find her a home I can no longer take care of her.

Tina k

I already put this out to find a home for my COCO but I really have to find a great home for her! I cannot keep her. If interested you can always text me 510-478-4365
Thank you


Need help with dog food for 3 dogs one who is pregnant please help if you can I dont want to lose my furbabies


Good day, I’ve got a pitlab mix of 4 months old that I have to give away since I can’t get him approved at school I just need someone that will card for him and love him.

Sherie Roder

Sadie is almost 2 weights about 40 lbs. due to a landlord issue I can’t keep her. She is potty trained, is used to chainlink fence. She sleeps inside at night. No issues with other dogs and cats. Has not been around kids. She needs room to run. Can you give her a great home and love??


Need help surrendering 3 or 4 dogs for my son, he can’t keep the them because he going out of the state, any help will help, please help, I can send pictures, that he send me if you like please send me a email. [email protected]

Rosa Sanchez

Hello all, am 8n great need of finding. A new home from my 2 boys. Am relocating work reasons.


I have a sweet 11 month beautiful black purebred female spayed lab. She is up to date on her all her shots. She is also micro chipped. She can be high energy at times, needs a yard to be able to run and play. Loves people and plays well with other dogs. Raised with cats but would be better off without. Busy work schedules and declining health situation with parents does not allow enough time for pet. Stays in crate all day long. Unfair to her. Would like a better home situation for her. Thank you!

Kathy G

I have a two year old white and black pit bull. Beautiful girl, spayed and chipped. Our youngest grandson is autistic and it has become difficult for all of us. Juno is house broken, very loving however she can be jealous. She is nervous around new people but warms up with a treat. We have tried for more than a year to make it work but realize it is not fair to her to be in this situation. She is up to date on shots and just needs an adult who can appreciate her. Please contact us if you can give her a home.

Sharan McCown

I will will be homeless on August 31st I took in Sandy a chicuahua dausand mix due to his owner dieing in Jan my neighbor he’s 9 years old and wasn’t loved and he was totally changed he’s so sweet but I don’t know what to do it’s killing me please what can I do?


I have a Lab and German Shepard mix I need to find a home for. My daughter has just left for her freshman year of college yesterday and left me here with her dog. He needs to be able to run around and with me being a teacher, he would be in a kennel for over 8 hrs a day. Which is not fair to him since he loves to be outside. He comes with a 10 gal food feeder and water bowl. I need him rehomed like yesterday.


hi. I live in Santa Ana Ca 92707. A friend of ours abandoned their German Shepard. Couldn’t stand the thought of seeing it go, thinking they would maybe have a change of heart. They haven’t and we already have a dozen dogs here so another is just not possible. We need help asap. I don’t know where to go or who to trust.
The dog has papers and shots and I believe it is registered.

Ben Team

Hey, Sheri.
That’s terrible! I can’t believe anyone would simply abandon their pooch like this!
I removed your phone number, just for your privacy’s sake. I’d recommend calling a local shelter or animal control to be sure the pupper is fed and cared for properly.
On behalf of the dog, I appreciate you looking out for him.
Let us know how it goes!


Hi, I have 8 beautiful pitt Australian Sheppard vmi puppies most of them have blue and green eyes as well. Iv tried finding them homes and havnt had much luck. As much as I’d hate to take them to a shelter I think I have to,but i really dont have a 50 $ fee per pup. If the there is anyone willing to help I’d greatly appreciate it. There 9 weeks old and wonderful pops with great personalities. Please help.


I have a 1yr 2-month pitbull (red and blue nose mix) I cannot keep not take care of him any longer. House dog very playful. Can anyone help. I live in east Orange NJ

Heather Moore

I have to give up my german shepherd ASAP. I have a 1 1/2 year german shepherd that is aggressive. Landheim said he is not a lost cause, however we have a 5 year old autistic neighbor that does not understand that he can’t come into our back yard. I am not willing to be responsible for any type of accident. We simply just can not keep him. He is up to date with all of his shots. He needs a good home.

kristen angus

I have a 5 year old german shorthair pointer, she is spayed and such a sweet heart! She keeps escaping from our yard and so it is best if she finds a new home.


I have a Chihuahua that i cant keep because my new apartment building doesnt allow pets. He is super friendly and loves everyone. He doesn’t bite nor is he spayed.


I have a shi’tzu he is 9yrs old i no longer have the time to keep up with him far as grooming he is up to date with shots im looking to give him away

Carmen Linda Roman

I need to give up my 2 blue healers. I am desperate.


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