Monday, March 25, 2013

Surrendering a Pet

Sometimes things happen. Regardless of our best intentions, plans, or dreams, sometimes things happen. And sometimes, we are unable to care for our pets and must decide what to do next. In this post, we'll look at what to do if you find yourself in this difficult position.

For the purposes of this post, we'll assume that you have done everything possible to resolve the issue you are facing with your pet, and have decided that it is no longer possible for you to keep them in your home. In the future, we'll take a look at common behavioral issues that prompt people to give up their animals, and what to do about those problems. But of course, it could also be that you are no longer able to keep a pet because of financial reasons, health reasons, job demands, and so on. We know. Sometimes things happen.

The most important element to consider in this situation is time. If you want to make sure that your pet is rehomed or placed in a no-kill facility, this most likely will not happen right away. All rescues and no-kills are full, all the time. For any of these organizations, including HSEC, to accept your animal, you must get on a waiting list and wait for a spot to become available. It's best to plan on about 4-6 weeks of waiting time.

As soon as you make the decision that you cannot care for your pet, please get in touch to secure your spot on that list. You can always take yourself off the list later on if circumstances change. And while you wait, take the opportunity to look into other options in your area. Don't put all your eggs in one basket - diversify!

But be sure as well to do your homework. Not all rescues and no-kill facilities are the same, and some will have policies or conditions to which you would not want to subject your pet. Ask questions about an organization, check out their website, even arrange a tour of their facilities if possible. According to the Humane Society of the United States, all shelters should have the following programs:
  • A comprehensive volunteer program
  • An effective foster program
  • A network of rescue partners
  • Innovative, aggressive adoption programs
  • Behavior programs that maximize adoptions
  • Medical protocols to reduce disease and keep shelter pets healthy
  • A positive approach to engaging the community in solving pet homelessness
If a shelter, rescue, or no-kill organization does not provide these programs, that is cause for concern. You can familiarize yourself with normal shelter/animal welfare facility operations here.

Take some time to research other options that might assist you in your specific situation. For example, there are several organizations that find foster homes for active military during deployment, like Dogs on Deployment. There are also many regional organizations that assist with foster care for pets whose owners are facing illness or disability. See what is available in your area.

Once a spot opens at HSEC, your pet will be brought in for an evaluation of behavior and overall health. There are no guarantees that any animal will be accepted into the facility. There is a surrender fee of $50, which defers but by no means covers the costs that we incur while caring for your pet until it finds a new home. You must be able to demonstrate that your animal is up to date on all vaccinations, including rabies.

Finally, it's best if you can find a new home for your pet on your own. This way your pet will go right from your arms to a new family, without having to enter a rescue (we do our best, but our facility is no substitute for a loving home). In addition to word-of-mouth, spread the information about your pet far and wide, using Facebook, Craigslist, and good old fashioned fliers or newspaper ads. Some rescue groups allow courtesy listings of available animals as well.

Finding a new family for your pet may seem daunting, but use your common sense and don't be afraid to ask questions. HSEC can provide a copy of our adoption application (with our name removed) if you would like to screen potential adopters. If you and the adopter are comfortable with it, you can also schedule a home visit to see your pet's possible new home. Read more about finding a new home for your pet here.

As a pet owner, you have decided to take on responsibility for that pet, which can sometimes mean finding it a new living situation. If this is the last thing that you can do for this animal, do it well.

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