Pet surrender is a real problem in Miami-Dade County. The County’s Pet Adoption and Protection Center recently reported that it took in more than 3,000 pets last year specifically due to owners “surrendering” them to the shelter.
Surrendering a pet, whether due to behavioral, financial or other unforeseen circumstances, should be viewed as a last resort because it can cause an emotional strain on the animal as well as the owner. Miami-Dade County Commissioner Sally A. Heyman joins the County’s Animal Services Department in urging pet owners who are thinking about surrendering their pet to consider the following alternatives:
- Try to “re-home” your pet on your own by using social media, making flyers, asking your family, friends, neighbors and colleagues if they can give your pet a new home. There also are many apps like Petfinder, PetHarbor, and Pose A Pet that can help you re-home a pet.
- Contact local rescue groups that may be willing to take in the pet or help find a new home.
- 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.
- If faced with 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.
- 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.
- 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.
“It’s heartbreaking how many pets are surrendered or abandoned every year,” Commissioner Heyman said. “It comes down to responsibility. Before buying or adopting a pet, people need to ask themselves if they are really prepared to keep a pet for life, because pet ownership should be a lifelong commitment.”
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.