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Relinquishing a Companion Animal

Sadly, thousands of companion animals are relinquished by their owners yearly to animal shelters nationwide. Not only do these animals lose their homes and families, many will never know another home again. The following FAQ offers information regarding reasons companion animals are surrendered, how you can avoid surrendering your companion animal, and what to do when relinquishing a companion animal is your only option.

Why do people relinquish their companion animals?

Often, people relinquish their companions for reasons that have nothing to do with the animal. A move, a new baby, a new relationship, or a death in the family often cause people to give up their companions. Before obtaining an animal, it is important to consider how future events may impact your ability to care for your companion.

How can I know if I am ready for a companion animal?

Acquiring a companion animal should be viewed as a long-term commitment lasting as long as the life of the animal. It is usually best not to acquire an animal at a time when the immediate future is very uncertain, when income is not sufficient, and/or when planning a major life event.

What should I do if I absolutely cannot keep my companion animal?

Beware of placing “free to good home” ads as a means of re-homing your animal. Some unscrupulous people pose as loving, capable pet owners in order to obtain animals for little to no cost. If you must place an ad, take steps to ensure your companion animal goes to a truly good home. Most responsible pet owners understand reasonable precautions, such as the following:

  • Include an adoption fee of at least $30 in your advertisement.
  • Ask respondents about their home environment and request veterinarian references.
  • Meet with the entire family in their home. If you are uncomfortable going alone, take a friend.
  • Bring your companion animal with you and observe the interaction among the people and animals.
  • Spay/neuter your animal prior to placement.
  • Require in writing that if the adoption does not work, the companion animal must be returned to you.

If you decide to surrender your companion animal to an animal shelter, do not leave the animal at the shelter after hours. Follow the shelter’s guidelines and policies regarding surrenders, and consider making a donation to the shelter or rescue to offset the costs of caring for the animal.

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