Happy Trails Animal Rescue’s re-homing program is designed to help pet owners in our community safely and responsibly find new homes for their pets. As part of our mission to provide a supportive community for pet owners, we are committed to helping you navigate this challenging decision.
Re-homing should always be an absolute last resort. With so many homeless pets in shelters, keeping pets in their homes is always the best option whenever possible. Please consider the following resources available to help with the common reasons people are considering re-homing:
Struggling with behavior issues?
Our rescue offers a free and low cost training program geared towards helping pet owners in our community improve unwanted behaviors to avoid surrendering and re-homing due to behavior concerns. Please read more about our Training Programs for more information.
Need help with vet care?
There are resources available for payment plans, low-cost veterinary services as well as grant funding available to help with veterinary care. Visit our Emergency Veterinary Assistance page for more detailed information.
Many people struggle finding pet friendly housing. There are resources available to help you navigate pet-friendly housing options near you.
Dogs in the home not getting along?
See our behavior issues information above, training can sometimes help! In the meantime, here is information on how to safely manage the dogs at home:
Is someone in the home allergic?
Some allergies are treatable/manageable.
Expecting a new baby at home?
Prepare ahead with resources on how to properly introduce your dog to the new baby at home. Training resources and time management resources may also be of help.
Are you being deployed in the military?
There is an organization dedicated to finding resources for watching your pets while you are away.
Not enough time?
- Try to make the time you do have available with your dog more exciting both mentally and physically. Things such as going for walks, car rides, playing with toys or teaching them new tricks can help drain physical and mental energy. Even though you might not have the most time, making the most of the time you do have will make a big difference.
- You can also look into taking them to doggie daycare, utilizing boarding for travel, having a pet sitter visit during the day or even enlisting the help of a trusted neighbor, friend or family member who can drop in and give them activity and attention.
Interested in our re-homing program?
If you are unable to continue to care for your pet and have made the difficult choice to re-home, our program may be right for you. This program allows pet owners who are able to keep their pets in their own home until they find new home access to help network the animals, screen new adopters to ensure safe placement, and help facilitate meetings and transitions with their new homes.
You may qualify for this program if:
- You are able to keep your dog until a new placement is found.
- You are a resident of Orange, Seminole, or Osceola county.
- Dog must be current on vetting (DHPP, rabies, HW test) and spayed/neutered.
- Must be available to attend a behavior evaluation.
- Must be able and willing to keep every week to every other week communication with a volunteer including fresh photos and updates, if three check ins (over the course of a month) are not responded to you will be removed from the program.
- If your dog has behavioral challenges, you must be attending in-person or virtual training (this will be determined by the evaluator on which is appropriate for your dog) in order to increase adoptability.
We work to place your dog as quickly as possible. We require you commit to a minimum of 30 days for the team to network and screen appropriately, however it can take 6+ months to find the right placement for dogs with more challenging behaviors.
Due to the overwhelming amount of requests, we have temporarily closed the program.
What is the process?
Complete the request form. A volunteer will reach out to you regarding the next steps which include an intake form and behavior evaluation. If the dog is accepted into the program it will be posted on our website and a volunteer will keep regular communication on updates and obtaining fresh pictures.
Is there a fee associated with the re-homing program?
There is no fee associated with your participation in the program. There is an adoption fee for your dog that is the responsibility of the new adopters, which includes free training and support for the lifetime of the pet. 100% of the adoption fees, and all donations, go back into the rescue and are used to help other dogs in need. We are a completely volunteer run organization, meaning everything that comes into the rescue goes directly to program costs and saving lives.
What vet records need to be provided?
- Any current record is appreciated.
- Your dog MUST be current with a minimum of rabies, DHPP and a heartworm test within the last year.
- Your dog MUST be spayed/neutered.
- The vet records must have pet name, vet information and date of when the shots/tests were administered.
- If your dogs vaccinations expire while in the program, you must bring the dogs up to date in order to remain in the program.
- We can provide you with low cost spay/neuter program information if your dog is not currently spayed/neutered. If you are using a low cost program you must pre-pay for the spay/neuter appointment in order to participate in the program. These programs tend to book out in advance, so if your dog is adopted prior to the spay/neuter appointment date the new adopters will take the dog to the spay/neuter appointment (as per their adoption contract).
How long will I have to hold my dog?
- We require a minimum commitment to the program of 30 days. This ensures our volunteers have enough time to network the dog and screen potential homes. This does NOT guarantee we will place your dog within 30 days. A realistic timeframe to find the right family is usually 3 to 6 months, especially for “harder” dogs (i.e. dogs that need to be the only dog in the home, take time to warm up to new people or have other behavior challenges).
- The 30 days begins when all paperwork is completed/submitted and behavior evaluation is performed.
Why are new pictures and updates so important?
- New pictures keep your dog’s profile “bumped” on search engines such as Petfinder and Adopt-a-Pet. It will maximize your dog’s reach to potential adopters. Good pictures can really help; as it is the first impression – just like a dating profile!
- We have a limit of dogs we can accept into the program so it is important to keep us up to date on the status of your dog.
- Failure to respond to requests for an update three times in a row will result in the assumption that you are no longer wishing to continue with the program.
Why does it take so long?
Please understand the amount of volunteer hours that go into each re-homing case. Volunteers are working tirelessly to successfully and safely place your dog, which includes:
- 35 to 40 min intake call
- 30 min evaluation
- 1 hour providing check ins and updating profiles
- 3 hrs in screening time to approve an applicant
- 45 minute final adoption interview
- 30 mins in phone calls scheduling appointments
- 1 hour meet and greet with the new family
- Networking time to post and share these dogs on our platforms
- 5 different volunteers total
- This is all PER APPLICANT and does not include additional meet and greets, training or send home appointments.
It also takes more time to find the right fit when a dog has very specific adoption needs like behavior experience, only dog home, etc.
What happens once my dog is accepted into the program?
Once your dog is accepted into the program, we will create a profile for your dog on our website and it will be networked via Facebook, Instagram, Petfinder, Adopt-a-Pet and more. Once we receive an application for your dog, we will fully screen the potential applicant, pending they meet all the necessary requirements for your dog that we have set to ensure the right forever family. Once a fully approved home is found, a HTAR representative will discuss the potential home with you and if you approve of the home we will set up a meet and greet with the new family. We will assist in developing a plan and timeline for transition into the new home if it is a match.
Can I work with a different rescue during your program?
We always encourage families to consistently look for and reach out to other rescues if you are on a timeline for placement. Please make sure to research any potential rescue you are considering placing your pet with as some specialize in certain behaviors or breeds and it is good to find the right fit. We would be happy to answer any questions we can about a specific rescue you are considering. Some good questions to ask a potential rescue before surrendering your dog include:
- What is their adoption screening process?
- What is their euthanasia policy?
- What support do they provide to adopters?
- What is their policy for returning a dog if adoption does not work out?
It is also smart to look at reviews and ask for references.
If you would like a list of rescues to contact that we personally recommend we would be happy to supply one.
If your dog is accepted into another rescue, please let us know right away so we can conserve volunteer resources and space for other dogs in need.
What happens at the meet and greet?
Once an approved adopter is found we set up an in-person meeting for the family and their current pets (if applicable). This meeting will take place at a public setting either at the HTAR facility or a public park. The location will be based on schedule availability and hours and what environment would be the best setting for your dog’s personality. A HTAR representative will attend and guide the meet and greet including assisting with creating a successful and positive introduction to the new family and existing pets in their household. It is extremely important that dogs meet people and other animals in a proper and positive fashion, it can truly make or break the relationship.
What if an adopter is found but I don’t think they are a good fit?
You ultimately have the final say as to whether or not you approve the adopter. By Florida law, dogs are considered property and your dog remains under your ownership until the final contract is signed between you and the new adopter. HTAR is simply acting as an agent for you and your dog in order to provide a fully screened and approved adopter. You know your dog best, so if you feel that something is “off” and that the home is not the right fit you have every right to decline the adopter. We do have many years of experience screening homes and matching dogs to families and are here to provide that experience to help you make this decision.
What if I found someone that wants to take my dog?
If you find a potential home for your dog while the dog is in our re-homing program, we ask that you instruct them to apply via the application on our website and go through our screening process. Utilizing our screening system gives you a ton of benefits including:
- Our years of experience matching dogs with the RIGHT permanent homes to ensure safety and success.
- Access to background checks, reference checks and public records to help ensure safety and success.
- The peace of mind that your dog is going to the best possible home.
- Contracts that protect you and your dog.
- Support during the meet and greet and transition process, including free professional training.
Please note that our volunteers spend countless hours working on each and every dog and we care about their safety and success. Please respect our time and dedication by not just giving your dog away to an unapproved home.
If my dog is adopted through the program, what does the new adopter receive in order to help ensure their success?
Every dog that is adopted through our program is given tons of transitional support from our team. From help with decompression and introductions into the home, to access to communication from our team members to get guidance and support, the new adopters are supported every step of the adoption. All dogs adopted through our program also have access to free professional training for the entire lifetime in their new homes. This includes basic obedience classes or professional behavior modification when the dogs are struggling with any issues during transition or down the road. We have an amazing team at HTAR and are able to assist with any situation that might arise for our adopted babies.
Can I keep in contact with the new adopter?
Upon adoption, the contract signed will have the contact for the rescue, new adopter, and prior owner on the document. It is up to the new family if they wish to stay in contact, however, the rescue always stays in contact with the new adoptive family and you are able to always reach out to us for an update if the family wishes not to communicate.
What happens if the new home my dog is placed in doesn’t work out?
While we work extremely hard to ensure our placements are forever, there are occasionally situations where the adoption does not work out. Ideally, the best case scenario for the dog would be for you to be committed to taking them back while we work to help you find another placement for the dog. If you are definitely not going to be able to take the dog back we ask that you notify us prior to adoption so that we can work with the adoptive family to try to develop a backup plan – which may include that family fostering the dog while it goes back up for adoption through our program. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee our ability to take your dog into the rescue solely because it has participated in our re-homing program. We will do everything we can to help you find a safe placement for your dog in the event that the adoption does not work out but ultimately we are not able to be responsible for taking on every single dog that has been rehomed through our program.
What happens if I run out of time and can no longer keep my dog?
If you’re on a timeframe, we stress having a backup plan such as a friend or family member that can hold on to your dog once time is up. Please thoroughly explain their requirements and what will be expected if they are taking over your position in the program. Also, as mentioned above, looking into other rescues who might be able to help could be vital. There is a facility called Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando that takes owner surrenders. They are usually on a wait list so we encourage people to reach out sooner vs later. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that we will have space to take every dog that is in our rehoming program that has not been adopted – we are a foster based rescue network and availability is limited and subject to the experience level and environment of the available fosters. Having a backup plan such as getting on a wait list with another shelter or finding a friend or family member to foster is important if you know your timeline is short.
In need of more urgent placement?
If you are unable to safely keep your dog in order to participate in this program and need to place your dog urgently, you can try the following locations. PLEASE NOTE: Animal Control shelters are public access shelters and should be used as an ABSOLUTE LAST RESORT. These shelters cannot turn animals away when they are full, which increases the likelihood of euthanasia. Animal Control’s primary responsibilities are enforcing animal laws and housing and reuniting stray animals with their owners – they are not designed to take and rehome unwanted animals and their resources to do so are limited. Please make every possible effort to find an alternative placement for your dog.