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How Do I Surrender My Dog?

Need to find your pet a new home?

by Kelly Villa, | March 29, 2024

How Do I Surrender My Dog?

Dejan Dundjerski / Shutterstock

You can surrender your dog by taking them to an animal shelter or rescue organization. It’s important to know what will take place once you relinquish your pet to a shelter or rescue and also to be aware that there are alternatives. Some facilities don’t allow walk-in surrenders and almost all charge a fee. This varies by location, so it’s important to call ahead to learn the procedures of the animal welfare organizations near you.

Consider using Rehome by Adopt a Pet to find a new home for a pet yourself.

How to Surrender a Dog

If you are thinking about giving away your dog, there are different options available to you other than surrendering them to an already jam-packed animal shelter. You can either try rehoming the dog yourself by using a platform like Rehome, or you can connect with rescue groups to help find a new home for your pet. These options are better for your dog, as they increase the chances of a positive outcome.

1. Surrending a dog to an animal shelter

The first step is to call the organization to let them know that you would like to surrender your dog. In some cases, they will ask you several questions about the dog and your reasons for surrendering them. If the facility does not answer, you can move forward with bringing the animal to the shelter or rescue.

As more animal welfare facilities are learning the importance of trying to keep dogs in their homes, they may offer or suggest talking with someone who could help you work on the issues that are making you want to surrender the dog. They may offer advice about animal training, daycare facilities, where to find financial assistance, and other concerns. You can also refer to our pet advice guides to learn how to address some common dog ownership questions.

Once the decision to surrender is final, and the shelter has agreed to take the pet, you’ll bring the dog to the facility, pay a fee, and sign the pet over to the organization.

When you leave, the fate of the pet is out of your hands. Sadly, many healthy pets are at risk of euthanasia after being surrendered. Some are afraid of the shelter environment, which can cause a normally well-mannered dog to behave aggressively out of fear. Such behavior decreases the chances the dog will be adopted. The lucky dogs will find new homes, but you’ll have no input into the type of family that is allowed to adopt your pet.

2. Rehoming a dog yourself

If you are willing to take the time to find a new home for pet, this is often the ideal option. The process of properly rehoming your dog might seem overwhelming, but there are resources to make it easier and to ensure your dog will be safe, happy, and loved in their new home. Rehome is a website that is dedicated to helping responsible pet parents find loving homes for their pets. From advice about screening adopters to creating a profile to get your pet noticed, Rehome is a great resource.

When rehoming a dog yourself, it is extremely important:

  • Never give your dog away on sites like Craigslist or Facebook pages. There are people who scour these sites looking for pets to sell to a lab, use for dog fighting, or other bad things.

  • Never give your dog away as "free to a good home" (Always charge a rehoming fee.)

  • Never give your dog to a family without checking references and further screening them.

3. Finding a rescue group

A rescue is different from a shelter, such as the city pound, in that it is privately run and gives dogs as long as it takes to find their forever home. For that reason, it can be difficult to find a rescue that has the space to take your pet, but it is something worth trying.

Surrendering or rehoming a dog should be a last resort, but sometimes even loving pet owners have no choice. If that’s the case in your situation, consider taking the steps to find your pet the perfect home, so you’ll know you did your best for them.

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Kelly Villa

Kelly Villa

Kelly Villa is a freelance writer and contributor to various pet publications.

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