Please note that surrendering your dog is a last resort and is only an appropriate response after all other options have failed. And as always, the more you understand your dog, the better equipped you’ll be to make the decision of whether you should re-home him or her.
Deciding to surrender your dog is heart wrenching. It’s usually the last choice in a string of unpleasant decisions, such as “should we try another trainer?”, “is this the best medication plan?”, “will he grow to love the baby?” “can we afford another surgery?” If you’re agonizing over this decision, you’ve likely tried everything. You’ve exhausted all your options, and this is the only one left. Having gone through this myself, I can tell you it is a highly emotional, and often irrational process, but we’re here to help you navigate these troubling waters while keeping your pup’s best interest at heart. It can seem cruel, and you might feel like you’ve given up, but sometimes finding a new home—a private furever home—is truly the best thing for all parties.
1. You are concerned for the safety of your family
When dogs exhibit violent or aggressive behavior towards a human, especially a child, it can be downright terrifying. Whether it’s in the form of a small bite or a full-blown attack, it can make an owner question their ability to rehabilitate the dog. While there are a range of triggers, most dog aggression stems from frustration, fear, and dominance issues, all of which can usually be overcome with more exercise and more assertive leadership from the owner. If these strategies aren’t working, and even professionals have failed to make some progress, it might be time to surrender your dog to a more experienced owner, and preferably one without children in the home.
2. The environment does not meet your dogs needs
There are some scenarios in which an incompatible environment can cause great angst or even depression in your dog. While most of these can be modified, i.e. you can spend more quality time with a dog who has lost a companion, or get a cooped up city dog out to the country to run wild, sometimes there are certain circumstances beyond our control. For example, perhaps you have recently taken in an ill family member and can no longer give the dog the attention he or she needs, or maybe you are moving into a nursing home that doesn’t allow pets. Sometimes dog-friendly housing altogether isn’t available to you, and you cannot find an intervention program to help cover alternative living arrangement or a pro bono legal counsel to contend with landlord issues. In these cases, rehoming your dog might be your best option.
3. You can no longer afford to provide the dog with proper care
Whether your financial situation has suddenly changed, or you’ve drained all your pet care funds due to unforeseen circumstances, there are owners who find themselves in the incredibly stressful situation of not being able to afford appropriate care for their dog. (This is often because the dog’s medical condition has suddenly worsened and is no longer financially sustainable.) Often you can get financial assistance to cover your pet care needs, or you can find intervention programs to pay for certain medical costs ranging from emergency surgery to diagnostic blood work. If these options are not available to you however, it may be in your dog’s best interest to find owners who can make all monetary sacrifices necessary to optimize his or her health.
4. Your health is being compromised
Most people with dog allergies find relief by taking a few simple steps, such as taking medicine (antihistamines, a course of allergy shots), cleaning their homes regularly, using HEPA air purifiers to reduce airborne allergens, bathing the dog with hypoallergenic shampoos, and establishing “dog-free” zones in the home, particularly the bedrooms. For those with severe allergies or suppressed autoimmune systems, however, sometimes these measures simply aren’t enough. If your health is deteriorating, or if you’re in a constant state of discomfort, it might be time to find a home more compatible with your pup.