Giving Up Fido? Here’s How To Responsibly Rehome A Pet

by Edie Jarolim

Opening your home to a pet—as fun as it can be—is a huge responsibility too. And sometimes it doesn’t work out, and that pet needs to be rehomed. Whether due to financial hardships, moving, or variety of other reasons, giving up a pet can be painful experience. But rehoming a pet responsibly, with thought and consideration, can ultimately help save and enhance your pet’s life.

Be Honest With Yourself.


Whether you have a pet already, or considering getting one, it’s important to consider your true feelings about ownership. Take the Pleasant family, recently featured on our popular new show Finding Fido. (Tune in to Finding Fido every Tuesday at 9PM to watch more shelter dogs find their forever homes. Find out where to watch the show.) The Pleasants decided after meeting three adorable shelter dogs that they just weren’t ready to adopt a pet. The family admitted to loving all the dogs they met, but in the end, simply didn’t feel they were in the best place in life to make the commitment.

Host Seth Casteel responds to the surprising news by telling the family, “You guys are the type of dog owners that I like. I mean, it’s a huge level of responsibility. A lot of people underestimate the responsibility and they end up in a situation that’s tough for them and the dog.” 

It’s important that interested pet owners, and even those who have already adopted an animal consider Seth’s point: Are you able to accept that level of responsibility? And if you have a pet, but you’re not sure about giving it up, here are some additional points to consider. 

Is It Absolutely Necessary To Give Up Your Pet?


Most experts encourage pet owners to make sure they’ve explored all possible alternatives before parting ways with a pet. As Sherry Woodard, animal behavior consultant of Best Friends Animal Society, told Z Living, “People may think they need to rehome a pet that has become anxious, reactive, or destructive, but it’s entirely possible that it’s a medical or dental issue they can work through with their veterinarian.

While this is important to consider, there are still circumstances where rehoming is necessary—like when health reasons force an owner to move into a place where pets can’t be accommodated, or when an animal poses a danger to a family member. In the latter case, Woodard cites an example of a pet that has been fine with a baby, but becomes hostile when the child starts moving around more. “It’s not always possible to keep a child and a pet completely separate. [Sometimes] it may be safest to find the pet a new home.”

Also on Z Living: 10 Things You'll Obsess Over During Our New Show 'Finding Fido'

Look First To Friends, Family & Neighbors For Help Rehoming Your Pet.


Madeline Bernstein, President of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles, suggests that the first path to finding your pet a new home is to look to people you know for help. “The best case scenario is to try to get your pet placed with neighbors, friends, or relatives,” she told Z Living. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter or email blasts are effective ways to explore potential adopters. Ask friends and relatives to contact their circle of friends on behalf of your pet, too, increasing the number of options exponentially. 

Another option Woodward suggests: Create flyers and leave them with local veterinary offices. “Some people might be receptive to getting a new pet, or the veterinarians might know someone who would be especially well suited to a particular animal,” she says.

Also on Z Living: How To Help 'Finding Fido' Save More Dogs

Did You Sign An Adoption Clause?


Additionally, returning a pet to the breeder, rescue group, or humane society you adopted it from is often the best course of action. “When you adopt a pet, most of the time you sign a contract requiring you to return it if there’s a problem,” Bernstein says. “Many people forget what they’ve signed.”

Such clauses in adoption and purchase contracts protect pets and owners alike, preventing actions like placing, “free to a good home” ads on Craigslist. “Even if you’re well-intended and don’t want your pet to end up in a bad situation, you don’t always know who you’re dealing with,” Bernstein says. “Shelter staff are trained to screen potential adopters.”

Also on Z Living: Dog Pound, 2.0: How Shelters Are Changing For The Better

When Returning Or Rehoming, Be Honest About Why.


Whether you return a pet to a shelter or rehome it to a relative or friend, honesty is always the best policy. Often, people are embarrassed about having to give up a pet, and don’t disclose the real reason, thinking they’ll be judged, or that it’ll be harder to find the animal a new home. But knowledge is power. Does your pet get along well with other pets? Is some essential part of your pet’s training missing? Is there a behavioral issue that’s causing problems? Some potential adopters may be willing to put in the time and training to resolve these issues. 

“We need to know exactly what’s going on, so we’re not setting the pet and the new family up for failure. The more information we have, the more we’re setting the pet and the new family up to succeed,” Woodard declares.

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