As a rescue, one of the most frequent things we deal with is owners wanting to surrender their dog to our organization. This can be frustrating for both the rescue and the owner. Many owners have a misconception that it is easy to find a rescue for their dog – I mean, that is what rescues are there for, right?

The reality is, many rescue do not even accept owner surrenders – WHY?! – because dogs are dying every single day in shelters across America, and usually every available resource is consumed trying to save those dogs.  Here are some realistic tips for trying to place your dogs with a rescue organization:

  1. START EARLY! If you know you are going to need to find a new place for your dog start looking AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. The rescues who do accept owner surrenders often have a wait list – so calling on a Tuesday evening to ask where you can surrender your dog Wednesday morning before you move isn’t realistic.
  2. If it isn’t an emergency that will leave your dog homeless (EX: Your dog isn’t housebroken, you don’t have time for training, it is not getting along with your other dog, you aren’t home enough, etc) then most rescues will expect you to house your own dog while they help you find it a new home. This can take weeks or even months. But, the reality is – why should another dog in a local shelter die so that you can relocate your dog faster? Be prepared to work with the rescue to find a new placement for your dog, not expect the rescue to take the dog immediately instead of helping a dog that dies in the morning.
  3. MAKE SURE YOUR DOG IS FULLY VETTED! All rescue dogs in a reputable rescue will be spayed/neutered, current on vaccines, and current on HW test and prevention. Do not expect the rescue to spend precious funds meant for saving lives on getting a dog that is your responsibility vetted. Most rescues can refer you to local low cost clinics/programs where you can do this at a reasonable price.
  4. But what if I found a stray? Rescue organizations are not really the right place to contact for found dogs. You should hold onto the dog and make every possible effort to locate the dog’s owners – this can include having the dog scanned for a micro chip, contacting your local animal services to report the dog found and see if anyone is looking for it, putting up posters on your street, and even letting the dog “lead” your walk to see if they lead you to their home. If all efforts are exhausted to find the owners and you cannot hold onto the dog, by law many areas will require you to surrender it to animal services for a stray hold so that the owners have an opportunity to reclaim the dog. Rescues are usually contacted by animal services if the dog is in need of rescue placement after evaluating the animal’s medical and temperament concerns.
  5. DO YOUR RESEARCH – Make sure the rescues you contact are legitimate. Ask for veterinary references, check out online reviews, contact local animal control to see if they have heard of the organization, etc.

And OF COURSE – If you are able, make a donation to the organization to cover things like food, prevention, and other care for your dog AND help save the lives of additional dogs in the community.

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