Let’s be clear. I am not supportive of re-homing pets for whimsical reasons. But this issue of “surrender” and how people feel about it has already been vocalized enough. Sometimes surrendering is the only option. Life can be unpredictable, and land you in situations where you are not mentally, emotionally or even physically capable anymore. Since it is a real issue, we might as well grow up and deal with it. I would like to share some good methods of re-homing your pets.
I see this line in so many places “Free to a good home”. Here is why I have mixed feelings towards it:
How do you define “good”?
How are you going to ensure this is a good home?
How can you ensure that because you say “Free”, you are not attracting the wrong kind of “adopters” for instance people who fight dogs or undocumented backyard breeders (in my mind, this is the lowest life-form that there is. Harsh? No, you deserved it.)
There are ways to get around these concerns and really ensure your pet is going to a good home. Instead of resorting to “Free to a good home”, here is what you could do:
First, is to acknowledge that you might not have all the resources to ensure this.
Second, is to find a Rescue that does and ask them to help you.
Third is to understand, and really understand that if you give your pet to the “shelter” there is a very very high chance that it will be dead, and soon. So, don’t be fooled by the term “shelter”. This is really Animal Control. It is not a beautiful green meadow where your animal gets to spend their days waltzing about soaking in sun and gourmet kibble while they wait for their next beautiful home. Understand, that in most county “shelters”, surrendered animals make a beeline for the top “euthanasia” list, because they are not entitled to a stray hold period. (A stray hold period is roughly 4-5 days where the animal is held by Animal Control incase the family comes looking for it. )
Let us go back to the second point where you enlist the help of a local rescue. The reality is, most rescues are almost always full. But, if you offer to keep your animal while they courtesy post for you on their Facebook, or search for a home for your pet, they will be more than willing to help you. Sometimes, they even have a free foster home to take your pet into. Always be courteous enough to offer a donation. The pros of going this route are many, but two key pros are below –
1. Rescues have an extensive audience. They have many more avenues to showcase your pet than you do, such as events, Facebook pages , contacts with other rescues and their powerful rescue grapevine.
2. A tried and tested adoption process – Rescues typically will have an application form, make reference phonecalls and do Home Visits for potential applicants before the place your pet in their home. The adoption fee can be treated as a donation to the rescue for their help.
Below are some general thoughts and tips on finding a good new home for your pet:
Surrender Stigma – Unlike the common belief that Rescues will judge you for your decision to surrender your pet, most groups often are happy to help because you didn’t just dump your pet at the “shelter”. You are taking the time and effort to find them a secure home. There is no doubt that you will come across one odd judgmental person but that is life. And such people are present in all walks of it. Please do not choose to leave your pet at the “shelter” because of this imaginary stigma that surrounds rescue groups.
Spay and Neuter your pet
(and all your stupid acquaintances) – Getting your pet fixed, immediately prunes the applicant tree of dead branches such as undocumented backyard breeders who want to buy your pet to breed it and sell its offsprings until it dies of childbirth.
Craigslist – Unless you are really really careful, and are using this in combination with a robust application process, do not put your pet on Craigslist as “Free to a good home”. It is very easy to go get a free puppy. There is a good chance that someone who did this on a whim, will dump them at the “shelter” once they’re done with the cuteness and the reality of responsibility hits them. Please please put your flako-meter on and turn it up to the max setting when meeting applicants for your pet.
Duration – Sudden mishaps always happen, but if you know beforehand that you are going to be in a situation where you cannot continue to care for your pet, please be proactive in using all the pointers provided in this post. For unforeseen circumstances, try and find a family member or a friend who can do all of this for you. Again, be courteous enough to sweeten the deal for them. This will hopefully ensure, that they will do a sincere job in finding the best home for your pet.
There are several local rescues in the Leon County/Walkulla County area that might be willing to help –
I mentioned these because I volunteer with Cauzican and have friends volunteering with the other two. This by no means is a guarantee that they will take your pet in with the first phonecall or email.
But I can tell you, they will help in the ways outlined above.
Some more resources are local doggie daycare and boarding facilities (please do not leave your pet here) but they might know of clients who are looking to adopt or of rescue options or have employees that can help in some way.
In the end, surrenders are not ideal, but they can be done gracefully and successfully with time and patience.