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Finding a New Home for Your Pet Before You Surrender

Alternatives to surrendering your pet.
November 07, 2022

Sometimes, families find themselves in situations where caring for an pet is no longer a possibility. Choosing to re-home a pet can be an incredibly difficult decision. 

Animal Welfare Department (AWD) is here to provide caring advice and resources for people who are searching for a new home for their companion pet. 

Increase its adoptability and spread the word

The following are some tips to try to re-home your pet before bringing the pet to a shelter:

  • Give yourself time to re-home your pet. It can often take weeks to months to find it the best home.
  • Increase your pet's adoptability by having your pet spayed or neutered and groomed. Make sure your pet is up-to-date on vaccinations.
  • Your personal network is the best pool of adopters for your pet. Spread the word to increase your chances of finding the right home for your pet. Ask your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers and local veterinarians to help advertise. Ask your veterinarian if you can place a poster advertising your pet’s need for a new home. Place flyers promoting your pet at work, school, church and other public places you frequent. Include a good-quality photo and appealing description of your pet.
  • Be transparent with potential adopters. Be prepared to share details about your pet's personality and how they get along with other pets and people. Share your pet’s favorite things and not-so-favorite things. And share any medical or behavior issues your pet is experiencing so that potential new owners will have the information they need to determine if your pet would be a good fit for their family.
  • Leverage your social network. Post your pet’s photo and story and ask your friends to share it on their social streams. Social media can be a great place to share this information, in addition to neighborhood apps.
  • You can also use the Adopt-A-Pet re-homing tool, which gives pet owners the ability to be more involved, and it's simple to use! Set up a pet profile, and interested people apply. Adopt-A-Pet has staff who review posts to prevent abuse such as breeder sales — making it a safer alternative to other online marketplaces, such as Craigslist. 
  • Use caution when considering unknown individuals or families as your pet’s new owners. Hold the initial meeting in a public place and ask questions to screen potential adopters. (Are there other pets in the house? Have you established a relationship with a veterinarian? Do you have a fenced in yard? Share your expectations for your pet’s new home).

Contact breed-specific or foster-based rescue groups

Rescue groups that focus on caring for and helping family’s re-home a specific breed is available for almost any type of dog. Organized by people who have extensive knowledge of a specific breed, these groups provide a variety of opportunities for your pet, including the possibility of your pet staying in foster care until a new home is found. Some rescue organizations may post your pet’s picture and profile on their website as a courtesy listing, while your pet stays in your home. Your local agencies may have other programs to help you rehome your pet.  Visit to find rescues.

Before you surrender your pet to Animal Welfare Department (AWD)

There are instances when a pet must be surrendered to a shelter, but surrendering a pet should be your last option; not your first.

Never abandon your animal. AWD is an open-admission organization.

Currently our shelters are full leaving no space for incoming pets. Because of this, the Animal Welfare Department has made changes to its daily admissions operations. If you're unable to personally find a new home for your pet, you may bring your dog, cat, or critter to AWD. Review our surrender process