No one goes into pet ownership expecting to have to give up their animal companion, but sometimes unexpected life changes make the decision unavoidable. As someone who was forced to relinquish a dog in the past, the emotions of loss, guilt and heartbreak are overwhelming.
That, combined with the implied time constraint, can make you overlook key steps in the rehoming process. It’s hard, but it doesn’t have to be as stressful as it seems. With some proper steps taken beforehand, you can reduce the likelihood you have to surrender your pet. If keeping your furry companion isn’t an option, you can follow these tips to make sure they find a home that is both amenable and accommodating to your animal.
Before You Surrender
Many animals are surrendered not because they’re bad pets but because owners can no longer afford to care for them. A dearth of financial resources might be the reason you need to surrender your pet, but there are ways to make ends meet for your furry friend before giving up on them entirely. You should make your best attempt to scope out alternative options that let you keep your pet.
Find Financial or Medical Assistance Organisations
If expensive medical bills are the primary reason you can no longer afford to keep your pet, you can apply for funding from organisations created to provide medical assistance to pets in need, such as The Pet Medical Crisis Fund. The RSPCA also has a veterinary team that can offer support, help you go through your options, and potentially offer more affordable care.
You might also be able to lower the cost of veterinary care by discussing payment plans with your veterinarian, such as via VetPay.
Turn to Friends and Family First
You may be lucky enough to have a support group in the form of family and friends that can help you stay close to your animal companion, even if you can’t be by their side. Talk to relatives to see if they’d be willing to adopt or at least foster your animal until you’re able to regain custody of them. They’re your best bet at finding a loving home, especially if they’re familiar with your furry friend.
When I surrendered my own dog I was able to place him in the care of a family friend who had, unbeknownst to me, recently lost their own dog after many years together.
If you’re friends with other pet owners, or frequent communal locations such as dog parks, you can chat with fellow animal owners and ask them if they’re interested in adopting your pet, or fostering them until you’re able to reclaim them.
Talk to Your Vet
You should also discuss your decision with your veterinarian. They may know someone willing to adopt your animal, be willing to negotiate on pricing so you can continue to afford your animal’s medical care, or at the very least know how to properly navigate the emotional trauma of surrendering an animal.
Surrendering Your Pet
Build a Care Kit
Before you say goodbye to your animal companion, be sure to provide them with what they’ll need to transition into their new home with minimal stress. That means providing a supply of your pet’s food, including treats and other toys they enjoy, and other equipment they’re familiar with, such as their bed, walking harness or crate.
You should also craft an honest description of your pet to appeal to potential adoptees. You might want to embellish a bit, but if your pet has a habit of peeing on the rug that you decide to brush under said rug, it could result in your surrendered pet returning once again to an adoption centre, this time without you to facilitate the process.
Look For Homes In-Person and Online
If you can’t find anyone to adopt your dog, you can turn to sites dedicated to rehoming pets. Dog Adoption Australia and PetRescue are designed to help animal owners find new homes for pets they can no longer care for.
You should contact your local animal shelter, where you’ll most likely need to make an appointment, in order to discuss the rehoming options your pet has. Surrendering an animal may cost you, so research potential fees (be prepared to spend $80-$250) before setting up an appointment.
Get Your Affairs in Order
If you’ve had your animal companion for a while, you probably have a record of their existence on hand. You should gather all forms of identification for your pet, including licenses for dogs, vaccination records, and other pertinent information someone adopting your animal should know.
Clean Your Pet Up
Putting your best paw forward is pretty important when you’re trying to rehome or surrender your pet. You should groom your pet so they look their best, and take some flattering photos of your animal companion, if only to have something by which you can remember their impact in your life.
Surrendering an animal is hard, but making such a tough decision in a responsible manner is just as important as properly caring for your pet in the first place. Being prepared to provide your animal companion with the resources, equipment and time needed to find a new home comes with the territory of pet ownership.
Circumstances are often out of our control, but how we respond to adverse situations affects more than ourselves. It often affects the ones you love, furry or otherwise.