It’s every dog lovers worst nightmare. The idea of giving up your dog may be
heart wrenching, but if you’re in a position to have to give up your dog it’s
good to understand your options, and how they will affect your dog before making
such a difficult choice.
What is Surrendering a Dog?
Surrendering a dog means giving away a dog that was otherwise intended to be
cared for its entire life. Surrendering a dog is not the same as a breeder
selling a puppy or a training facility selling a trained dog, as these dogs
are being sold intentionally, and usually with a guarantee that the dog
can be taken back, free of charge, if ever needed.
Surrendering a dog most often happens because of a sudden life change,
like an injury or illness, because the dogs original owner passed away,
behvaior problems or due to unexpected financial hardship. If you’re
considering surrendering your dog, but haven’t done it yet, you should
know that there are options that may allow you to keep your dog in
Long-Term Foster Care
If you have to give up your dog temporarily, but foresee yourself
taking your dog back in the future, try to find local options or
raise money for long-term foster care. Often run by rescues,
charities, and volunteers, long-term foster care may be able to
help you arrange care for your dog for a few days, weeks, or
months, for no or a reduced cost.
Long-term foster care is not the same as boarding your dog.
In most cases, long-term foster care is for crisis situations, such as:
- Losing your home
- Sudden Injury or Illness
Compassionate rescues and charities organize these emergency
networks themselves in an effort to help keep pets in their
homes. You can usually find long-term foster care by reaching
out to dog rescues in your community or joining dog-related
Facebook groups. Although you should be prepared to wait — long-term
foster care is in high demand all over the world, and many rescues,
despite their best efforts to find foster care, have waiting lists
that can exceed several weeks, it may still be a good option if you
only need to give up your dog temporarily.
If you’re recovering from an injury or another medical condition
and you find it hard to care for your dog, but foresee yourself
taking your dog back within a month or two, consider boarding.
Although boarding your dog at a kennel can be very expensive after
a week or two, it’s often possible to work out payment plans or use
credit to take care of expenses while your dog is being taken care
of by someone else.
Boarding options are different everywhere, and this includes prices
and services. If you just need someone to watch your dog temporarily, you should check:
- Your local veterinarian — Most vet’s offer boarding at competitive prices, and many accept CareCredit to help reduce your upfront costs.
- Dog trainers — You can inquire with dog trainers about reduced boarding costs if you don’t necessarily need professional training. Many dog trainers are happy to accommodate boarding and “daycare” dogs.
- Boarding & Daycare facilities — Often with the most premium options, some boarding facilities also offer basic boarding options at competitive prices
Although boarding will meet your dogs basic needs, boarding
facilities can be high-stress places for dogs who are used
to being at home louging on the sofa. Ideally when boarding
your dog, you should make time to visit and take your dog out
to the park or on a drive to relax and keep them comfortable as
their stay lengthens.
Daycare & Dog-Walking
If you’re finding it difficult to pay attention to your dog
because of a recent life change, like a new baby, new job, or
injury, you should try hiring a dog walker or taking your dog
to daycare once or twice a week, before you consider surrending
your dog. It’s not uncommon for your dog to develop behavior
problems after a sudden change in your life, but many of
these problems can be solved or significantly reduced by
getting your dog outside and active.
Daycare — which usually lasts for 6-8 hours — is provided
by some local groomers, veterinarians, dog trainers,
boarding facilities, and dog walkers, is a great way to get
your dog out of the house and active relatively inexpensively.
Daycare can be as cheap as $15-$20 per day, and may include
fun activities like playing with other dogs, or going
on walks in new places.
Re-Homing Your Dog
If it is not possible to keep your dog, you should try
re-homing them yourself by reaching out to friends and
family to see if there are familiar people that would
be willing to bring a new dog into their home. This
process can take a few weeks, but gives you the best
opportunity to vet the new owners and make sure your
dog will be comfortable and happy.
Even if you are not trying to make money when re-homing
your dog, you should charge a re-homing fee. Re-homing
fees are a good way to make sure that your dog goes to
a home that is financially stable enough to afford a dog,
and reduces the risk your dog will be taken by someone
with bad intentions.
Finding a Dog Rescue
If you can’t find someone to take your dog on your own,
reaching out to dog rescues gives your dog the best
opportunity to find a permanent new home. Dog rescues
have presence on social media, take photos of their dogs,
and do public adoption events where they can advertise
available dogs to potential adopters.
Dog rescues also go the extra mile to determine
whether or not potential adopters are a good fit by
conducting home-checks and behavior tests, which can
be crucial in making sure adoptions are a success.
Crucially, rescues take dogs back if adoptions do not
work out, which is a vital step in making sure dogs
do not wind up in public animal shelters.
It’s a good idea to reach out to multiple rescues
if you have to surrender your dog, as a single
rescue can be inundated with dogs and may not be
able to help you immediately. Rescues are most
often run by groups of unpaid volunteers, so
responding to every single request can be
difficult. Keep trying until you find a rescue,
animal sanctuary, or no-kill shelter that
can help you.
You shouldn’t leave your dog at a public
animal shelter unless you have exhausted every
other option. Public animal shelters are often
crowded and busy and do not give your dog the
best opportunity to be found — nor the personal
attention they often need while going through
the adoption process. Re-homing is stressful
for dogs, and the noise and stress of public
animal shelters can be enough to make your
dog nervous, fearful, or even aggressive.
If you must surrender your dog, do everything
you can to place them with a qualified rescue,
or find them a home with a friend. If all else
fails, a public animal shelter is still a better
alternative to abandoning your dog, and will
guarantee your dog has food and water.