The Irreverent Vet Speaks Out: Where Should I Get Rid of My Pet?

You wouldn't believe some of the things that us vets hear while working. Some outrageous questions get sent our way and it's mostly out of a lack of information. And most of the time we're glad that clients ask us these questions-we get a chance to set them straight. But every so often we hear things that are just so out there, we don't even know to handle them. One question that drives me crazy is: "What's a good place to get rid of my pet?"

I'm the Irreverent Vet. I'm here to tackle the questions that other vets won't….and to speak the truth about the pet care industry. My opinions don't always line up with what other veterinarians or pet lovers have, but I want to give you the straight facts on pet care and health so your pet can have a better life.

On to "getting rid of pets"…I know that sometimes people have to give up their pets for various reasons. It's sad but sometimes it's the best thing for everyone involved. I've heard all kinds of reasons for giving up an animal. Some of them are justifiable: allergies, child or animal aggression, an unexpected job loss or death in the family, an accidental litter, and so on. But others really make you scratch your head: things like a new boyfriend or girlfriend not liking the animal, the pet not being cute anymore, or not matching the furniture (yes, really). But whatever the reason, sometimes pets need to be rehomed.

(Speaking of that…it drives a lot of vets crazy to hear someone is "getting rid of" their pet. Pets aren't objects-you get rid of an old couch, not a cat or a dog.)

There's a right way and a wrong way to rehome an animal. We've heard some stories from clients. You could say that some pet owners got very creative when it came time to rehome their dog or cat. In some cases people will put up signs offering up their pet for adoption, and sometimes they'll resort to the old trick of putting up a "Free Kittens" sign on a cardboard box. Some of these "interesting" places to rehome an animal were:

This doesn't even include the number of people who will simply drop off pets in parks or other unfamiliar areas. I will be honest with you-this drives me absolutely CRAZY. It's understandable if circumstances change and you can no longer keep your pet. But as I said before, pets are living things and we owe it to them to ensure that their new home is safe and healthy for them.

There are a lot of better ways to find a new caretaker for your pet. Many areas have shelters and rescues for just this purpose, many of them no-kill. If your pet is unusual or a purebred, please take the time to seek out an organization that will ensure the new owners have what it takes to give your pet a good home. (An unprepared or uneducated new owner might unwittingly harm your pet's health if they aren't familiar with the animal's needs.) There's no harm in asking other "pet people" about places in your area who might help you, but don't just show up at a park or pet store with a "free" sign on your pet. (And definitely don't try to sell the animal while you are there…because yes, we've heard of this too.)

Remember that giving your pet to a stranger can be dangerous. If you don't know anything about them you have no way of knowing if they're telling you the truth or will take good care of the animal. You might be in a hurry to rehome your pet but don't give them away to the first person who expresses interest just because you're running out of time. The animal shouldn't have to pay for an owner's negligence.

The Irreverent Vet is a columnist that regularly contributes to The goal is to add a balanced and alternative view of some controversial pet issues. As happens with all of us, veterinarians can't say what they really think without offending some clients. This commentary allows vets to say what they think and give you, the pet owner, the opportunity to consider another view. All opinions are those of the Politically Incorrect Vet and not the views of and are not endorsed by