If you have a dog or cat that you currently own, and decide you cannot keep him or her anymore, please remember first and foremost that they are your responsibility. They have no one but you to rely on to do the best thing for them, and are counting on you to find them good homes that will make a commitment to them for the rest of their lives.
Finding a new home for a pet can take days, weeks, months or possibly years. It is not a process to be started a few days before you have to move out of your home and give up the pet. Keep in mind that the pet overpopulation problem, especially in the south, is overwhelming at best and many animals each day are destroyed due to lack of homes and space. You always have the option of taking your pet to a public animal shelter. However, depending on your pet's breed, age, health status and temperament, it could easily be euthanized within 24 hours of being surrendered to any kill-shelter.
Calling a no-kill or private shelter or breed rescue to take in your pet in most cases will not be able to meet your needs. Most private groups keep their animals in foster homes, which are difficult to find and often overloaded. Groups that have their own shelter facility are almost always full, and most rescue their animals exclusively from the public shelters. If your animal is a pure bred dog of a particular breed, you can contact that groups' breed rescue, but be prepared for them to offer you assistance with placement, not a place to house the dog until you can find a home for it.
The first thing to do is to review your reasons for giving up your animal.
A common situation we hear about is "we are moving and the new place doesn't take pets." There are many apartments and rental homes that allow you to keep your pets, but finding them may take more effort on your part. If an apartment home told you they do not accept children, would you give your children to foster care? Take the time to extend your search for a place that will accept your pet. Maybe you will have to live in a neighborhood slightly farther away than you expected, or a slightly more expensive apartment, but would you be willing to make that compromise if you can keep your pet?
If you are trying to find housing that accepts dogs, try bringing your dog to meet the landlord. A well-groomed, well-behaved pet is apt to make a good impression and assuage your future landlord's fears. You can bring references from your previous landlords, neighbors, your trainer and your veterinarian. If your dog is crate-trained, you may find the landlord willing to accept him or her as well, since a crate-trained dog is less apt to be destructive in the home.
Another reason for giving up a pet is "we don't have time for him or her anymore." Consider whether giving up the pet is really going to make your life less stressful or involved. Often you can find a neighbor or friend who might be interested in walking your dog or sitting with your cat. Consider that adjusting to a new home is very stressful for an animal, and this is why we often see issues such as separation anxiety, destructiveness, and fearfulness in rescued dogs and cats. Many people will give up a pet thinking that it will be happier elsewhere, but sadly, this is not always the case.
Another excuse we hear often is that the owner lives in an apartment and the dog needs a yard. This is not the case if your dog wants to be with you no matter what, and having a yard is irrelevant to most dogs. Regular walks with your dog are enough to keep him or her happy without having a yard to run around in all day. In truth, most dogs who have a yard spend the majority of their day sleeping in it, not running around.
A new child in the home is often another reason for giving up a pet. However, before you have given the dog or cat up, there are many excellent books on how to acclimate a pet to a new child in the home successfully, and you can consult trainers in the community for assistance. We can give you referrals to trainers who can assist you. Other than severe allergies or extreme aggression on the part of the animal, there is really no reason you cannot successfully raise a child in a home with pets.
"He jumps on people" or "She keeps escaping our yard" or "He can't be housebroken" are common reasons we hear as well. Studies have shown that people commonly give up animals for behavioral problems that could be easily solved with assistance from a trainer and some time commitment from you and your family. Most behavioral problems can be solved with a little bit of effort and education on your part. Keep in mind as well, if you were going to a shelter to adopt a dog or cat, which one would you want to take? The one who is sweet and friendly and calm, or the one with the behavioral problem? Keep in mind, most prospective adopters would choose the first one.
If you are giving up your dog or cat because he or she is aggressive to people, please consider that if you are not willing to live with an aggressive dog, neither would most other people. It also makes the dog much harder to show for adoption. Please have the dog evaluated by a professional trainer. If your dog has bitten people, this dog is dangerous and not a likely candidate for adoption.
Many people give up their pets due to medical issues they don't feel they can afford. Placing a sick animal in a public shelter where he or she will be confused and scared until the holding period is up and he or she will be euthanized by strangers is a cruel way to repay your feline or canine friend's loyal companionship to you. If you feel you must have your animal put down due to medical reasons, please consult with a veterinarian and be there with your animal in his or her time of need.
If you have considered all of these options, and still must give up your pet, you can try the following:
- Place a free online classified at: Petfinder.com
- Place an ad with your local newspapers or online at craig’s list
- Display postings at your vet's office or pet store
- Ask friends and relatives, people that you trust, to help you spread the word
REMINDER: NEVER ADVERTISE YOUR PET “FREE TO GOOD HOME”.
Sadly, there are many unscrupulous people that answer these types of ads, including but not limited, to those looking for pets for “fight rings” or sale to research companies. Asking for a small adoption fee in your advertisement can assist you in eliminating these types of inquiries. You owe it to your pet to find the best possible home for him or her. Take the time to visit the potential adopter’s home and ask for references, including a reference from a veterinarian if they have pets or have had them in the past. Have the adopter sign an agreement that they must notify you first if they decide they no longer want the pet at some point in the future. Make sure your pet is spayed or neutered before placement. This will help you avoid those looking strictly for animals to breed, (typically, your pet will not be a companion and may not be well taken care of by this type of owner) plus you will not contribute to future pet over population.