For a pet, few things are more traumatic than losing his or her family. The sad reality is, if a dog goes into a shelter, there is a good chance he or she may never be adopted. Additionally, in a shelter that has run out of space, the kennel your pet takes up may mean death for another who has now run out of time. For these reasons, please weigh this decision carefully.

Things to Consider:

Considering surrendering your dog because of problem behavior?

  1. First, discuss the problem with your vet. They can rule out medical issues and suggest training methods or medication.
  2. Is your pet spayed or neutered? Getting them fixed can have a dramatic impact on behaviors. Please contact us if you need assistance.
  3. Consult with a professional dog trainer. There is almost no behavior that can’t be modified with the help of a qualified trainer.

Keep in mind that if you don’t want to deal with the problem, a stranger won’t want to deal with it either. In the end, if you don’t solve the problem, the pet might be considered unadoptable and killed. That cute puppy you adopted a year ago is now an out-of-control adult because you didn’t train him, and he is not going to be appealing to someone else either. Do what you can to fix the problems before surrendering or re-homing your pet.

Have your pet spayed or neutered before they leave your care. If you re-home them without being fixed, you may be responsible for many other lives being lost.

Dos & Don’ts

Remember, if you must place your dog in another home, you are in the best position to find a good home. Knowing your dog’s temperament, you can screen potential families and identify the best match for him or her. And, you can ensure that the transition is as smooth as possible, without any time spent in strange and traumatic circumstances. Most rescues will courtesy post your pet to help them find a home.

  • DO a home visit and vet check.

  • DON’T give up before contacting other rescues to see if they can help.

  • DO utilize social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

  • DON’T give your dog away for free! Charging a re-homing fee reduces the risk of someone with bad intentions getting your pet. Love them enough to find them a good home.

  • DO contact local shelters about their owner-surrender policies. Be aware that dogs over the age of five are often killed first. Everyone wants puppies and cute, scruffy dogs; if you are surrendering anything but, please know they may never make it out alive. In addition, many dogs will be mislabeled as other breeds and may not be put up for adoption at all, depending on the shelter’s policy. Lastly, if your pet is stressed in the shelter, they may never be placed for adoption. The law gives your surrendered pets no rights to live. They can take them from you and immediately take them in the back and kill them if they have no room.

Screening Potential Families for your Pet

You are in the best position to find your dog a new home that is right for him or her. By being honest about your pet and asking a few questions, you will be sure that your pet and his or her new family are a good long-term match.

Sadly, there are active networks who scour free-to-good-home ads with the sole purpose of selling pets for laboratory research, torturing or hoarding them, or handing over to dog fighting rings. You owe it to your pet to have him or her spayed or neutered before they leave your care. Don’t add to the problem of overpopulation that rescues are fighting so hard everyday. By spaying or neutering your pet, you decrease their health risks and lessen the likelihood of bad people wanting your pet.

Rehoming Checklist

  • First, ask questions! Keep in mind that this not only gives you some additional information, but it also makes sure that they have made a thoughtful decision.

    • Ask:

      • Have they ever had a pet before? If so, what happened to the pet(s)?

      • ​Do they have a fenced yard? If not, how will the dog be controlled when outside?.

      • Where will the pup sleep? Where will he or she be when alone?

      • Have they considered the costs involved (food, medical bills etc.)?

      • Will the dog be an indoor or outdoor dog? How will his or her social needs be met?

  • Give potential families a realistic picture of the dog’s temperament and history, and be sure that you are comfortable with their ability to work with it.

    • Consider:

      • Activity level (and any unusual habits like bolting or jumping)

      • ​Level of training

      • Health history (sure to provide a vaccination record)

      • Good with children? Other pets?

      • Other habits (chewer, likes to sleep in bed, etc.)

  • Verify their contact information.

  • Ask potential families what veterinarian they have used in the past and call them. Additionally, ask if the family has consistently provided required health care (vaccinations, heartworm preventative, spay or neuter, etc) in the past.

  • If the family rents, contact their landlord to verify that pets are allowed. Also, ensure there are no breed restrictions. Pit Bull-type dogs are frequently surrendered and euthanized due to landlord issues.

  • Visit their house, making it clear that this is just a visit.

  • Finally, charge a fee (or if you prefer, donate it to a rescue). This helps ensure that the potential adopter is willing to pay for necessary medical expenses, food, etc.

Resources for Pet Parents