It’s not an easy decision to make when you are thinking of turning in — or “surrendering” in animal shelter jargon — your pet to the local shelter, but one many people struggle with every day.
Pet owners sometimes can be faced with life changing situations that impact the lives of their beloved pets. Surrendering a pet, whether it is due to financial, behavioral, or other unforeseen circumstances, can cause an emotional strain on both the owner and the pet.
In 2018, the Miami-Dade County Pet Adoption and Protection Center took in more than 3,000 pets specifically due to “owner surrender.” We look at surrendering as a last resort and first try to help people find alternate solutions to keep pets in homes and decrease the number of pets turned in to shelters.
If you, or somebody you know, are thinking about turning in a pet to a shelter, please take a look at the following alternatives:
1. Try to “re-home” the pet on your own by making flyers, asking your family, friends, neighbors and colleagues if they can give your pet a new home. Social media also is a great way at getting the word out. Give yourself time as it can often take a few weeks or months to find the right home. There also are many apps like Petfinder, PetHarbor, Pose A Pet, etc., that can help you re-home a pet.
2. Contact local rescue groups that may be willing to take in the pet or help find a new home. They may be able to help you directly or point you in the direction of a group that can provide assistance. These local rescue groups often work in conjunction with your local animal shelter
3. Look into what resources are available at your local animal shelter. Most local animal shelters offer programs, for little or no cost, to help reduce the number of pets being surrendered and help keep people and pets together. For example, a volunteer “foster” can watch the pet on a temporary basis.
4. If faced in a situation where you may have to move, ask potential landlords or homeowner associations about pet restrictions before signing a lease or moving to a new community. There may be a “no pet” rule, a limitation on the number of pets or weight restrictions.
5. Get pets spayed or neutered so they don’t have unwanted litters. Offspring of unexpected or unwanted litters often end up in shelters because owners cannot find enough homes. Having pets sterilized reduces the number of homeless pets in the community. Conduct yearly veterinarian checkups in order to keep your pet healthy. By staying on top of your pet’s health, it may prevent disease and illnesses that can result in high veterinary costs that could end up being a financial burden.
Bonus Tip: Provide enrichment activities like extended walks and toys to entertain your pets. Owners often surrender their pet due to behavioral concerns they develop simply from being bored. It’s important to socialize your pet with people and other animals because it will decrease the chances of your dog becoming aggressive or a concern for public safety.
Ultimately, it is important to consider all of the alternatives and resources available to help when making a decision to surrender your pet. Also being proactive goes a long way. It’s important to recognize that adopting a pet is a lifetime commitment.
Before making the decision to adopt or buy a pet, ask yourself if you can really commit to keeping the pet for the entirety of the pet’s life. Consult your local shelter for additional information regarding alternatives and programs available in your area before surrendering.
Visit the Animal Services website or call 3-1-1 for more information.