Read This Before Surrending Your Pet to an Animal Shelter


Relinquishing a pet to an animal shelter is never an easy choice, and it ought not to be. However, what can you do when you discover your child is allergic to your friendly Labrador? Or, when your property-owner suddenly disallows cats from your apartment complex, and you don’t have the money to move? It may seem that a shelter is your only option, but it’s not. Circumstances may arise that force you to give up a beloved pet, but sending him to a shelter is a last resort. Instead, a foster home is the safest place for your pet.

Make the Right Choice for Your Pet

Foster families provide a temporary home for your pet while seeking a more permanent solution. The foster family wants to see your pet in a forever home, and they’re committed to this goal. Foster care means your pet will never be euthanized.

Shelters certainly make efforts to adopt out pets, but ultimately if pets aren’t adopted in a timely manner they’re euthanized.

Fast Facts from the ASPCA:

  • Approximately 7.6 companion animals enter shelters nationwide every year.
  • Approximately 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats.
  • Approximately 2.7 million animals are euthanized each year (1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats).

The statistics are heartbreaking, which is why if you absolutely must surrender your pet to a shelter please only consider no-kill shelters. Even no-kill shelters can be frightening places to your pet; sort of like a puppy and kitty prison. The act of abandonment is likely to have a strong effect on his already fragile psyche, but if you take care to leave him with compassionate, trustworthy people, the event will be less traumatizing.

How to Consult with a Foster Family

Foster families rarely advertise their services. Often, they’re too busy rescuing dogs and cats from kill shelters before they’re euthanized. (This isn’t a reason to drop your dog off at a shelter because despite volunteer efforts, your abandoned pet still has a 50 percent to 70 percent change of being euthanized.) You may be able to find a foster family by searching online for one or by contacting rescue agencies.

Don’t expect an immediate yes. These things take time, and there are far more abandoned animals than there are families to take care of them. You will likely be placed on a waiting list; perhaps, if you need an immediate home for your pet, you can ask a family member to care for him while waiting for the temporary rehome. If you truly have no one, consider advertising him on a rehome group on Craigslist or Facebook; be sure to meet anyone interested in your dog, as puppy mills and fraudsters monitor these pages and will attempt to adopt your pet and put him into a dangerous situation.

If you’re one of the lucky ones, a foster family will set up a consultation with you and your pet. If your pet is a dog, he must come collared and with a leash. They want to get to know him and you to determine exactly his needs. Keep in mind, it’s a lot easier to place an animal that’s been spayed or neutered. It costs a lot to spay or neuter or pet, and by doing it yourself you’re saving the foster family from having to pay out of their own pocket to have the procedure conducted. It’s also a great way to show the foster family you’re reliable.

The Final Step is Goodbye

The goodbye is likely to be emotional; remember, this is a permanent decision you’re making and it means letting go. The changes of you seeing your pet again are slim to none… Are you sure you want to do this? If you’re not 100 percent certain you’re making the right decision, then don’t. Keep your pet. Move out if you have to, but keep the living breathing family member you’ve come to love and adore.

If you absolutely cannot hold onto to him, then the time has come to say goodbye. By choosing to surrender him to a foster home, you’ve drastically improved his chances of survival, but there’s still a chance he will end up in a shelter someday and possibly euthanized. The older an animal is, the less adoptable he becomes. It’s not a comforting thought, but rather a sobering reality and it should factor into your decision to give up your dog.

Final Thoughts:

I like to donate to the ASPCA. It makes me feel good and it makes me feel like I’m helping to save a life. If a foster family or shelter has helped you rehome a pet, then you owe it to them to make some kind of donation. This could be financial or foods and goods. Call ahead to see what they need.

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