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Rehoming - Giving up a Pet - What are your options?

By: Renae Hamrick, RVT

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Pets are for life. They deserve our very best efforts to keep them in the family. In return for their endless love, they count on us to always be there to care for them. Pets do not understand life's bumps in the road that sometimes lead to their rehoming. We cannot explain to them why they may need to relocate. For this reason, pet rehoming should never be an easy solution to any dilemma. If all other options have been considered and rehoming is absolutely the only answer, be reasonable and responsible.

Reasonable Reasons for Rehoming

If you've come into a situation that is causing you to consider finding a new home for your dog, cat, or other pet, please consider all other humane options first. Keeping your pet in the home to which he is accustomed with the family he loves is what is most fair to him. Listed below are some common reasonable reasons for rehoming a pet and some other possible solutions.

  • Allergies – Visit your doctor to be sure the pet is the cause for the allergies. Consider allergy shots or other medications. Clean the house and bathe and groom the pet more regularly to reduce pet hair and dander. Use allergen reducing cleaning products and shampoos. Purchase an air filtration system.

  • Behavior problems – Consult with a pet behaviorist and your veterinarian. Take your pet to obedience school. Exercise your pet often to burn excess energy. Be consistent with his training, behavior modification, and exercise regimen. Purchase D.A.P./Feliway pheromone collars and/or plug-ins to help calm your pet.

  • Relocation – Do a detailed search for a home that will allow your pet; chances are good you will find a place. Find a friend or family member to foster your pet until you find the appropriate home.

  • Pet expenses – Evaluate the money you are spending on your pets. Go cheaper by purchasing garage sale toys, buying food in bulk, eliminating extravagant extras. Read PetPlace's article on reducing pet costs.

    Plan Early

    If it is necessary for you to rehome your dog – plan early. Many shelters can work to find your dog a new home if you let them know as soon as possible. Many times people looking for a dog may prefer a dog that has been in a home over one that was a stray. Also, they can include you in adoption events where you can bring your dog to help find a new owner.

    Responsible Rehoming Options

    If the only option for you and your pet is to find a new home for your furry friend, do it responsibly. Do NOT assume that a Good Samaritan will come along and rescue your pet. It is never acceptable to let the pet go somewhere outside (such as beside the highway or on someone's doorstep), leave him in an abandoned house, give him to the first responder to a "free dog" sign, or anything else that involves the strong possibility of a bad home or injury to the pet. Listed below are responsible ways to find a new, loving home for your animals.

  • Family or friend – Ask a family member or friend to foster to adopt your pet. Giving him to someone you know will give you the opportunity to keep in touch and visit your pet in the future.

  • Rescue group – Search the Internet and/or ask your veterinarian for a rescue group who will take your pet. There are groups who specifically rescue certain breeds, and there are those who take in all pets. Rescues can often find a foster home for the pet, rather than keep him in a kennel, until an adoptive home is found.

  • Shelter – Do your research. Many shelters will euthanize a pet if a home is not found within a set period of time. Look for a shelter that is not overrun with pets and can afford the time to find your pet a home.

  • Advertise through your veterinarian – Ask you veterinarian if he or she knows of any good clients looking for a pet like yours. Your vet may also allow you to post a sign at the clinic. (Posting a sign at a vet clinic is preferable to posting it at a non-pet related location, as the clinic gives you an audience of responsible pet owners.)

  • Donate your pet – Consider charitable ways to find a new home for your pet. Perhaps your young dog could be used in assistance or your well-socialized cat could be the resident pet at a nursing home. There are also prison programs, which teach inmates to train dogs, who may be willing to adopt your dog. You may be able to donate your pocket pets to a local school or children's hospital.

    Be Part of the Solution

    Foreclosure sales on homes, owner deaths, new births, relation problems with other pets, and countless other life changes bring pet/owner relationships to an end, leaving pets homeless. If you are looking for a permanent four-legged family member, please consider adoption. Visit your local shelter or rescue group and bring a smile to the face of a homesick pet

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