Re-Home Your Pet


Do you feel you can no longer keep your pet and want to find a new home for him or her? Perhaps you are frustrated with a behavior problem. Or your child has pet allergies. Or you are having trouble finding rental housing that accepts your pet.

Step One: Step back and reevaluate the situation!

Many pet-related problems can be frustrating, and you may feel that relinquishing your pet is the only solution. But before you take that drastic step; be aware of the wealth of resources available to help pet owners such as yourself deal with problems that can seem overwhelming.

Deciding to surrender your pet can be very emotional and difficult for both you and your pet. We strongly encourage you explore the options of re-homing your pet with your personal friends, co-workers, and family members. If your pet was adopted through a shelter, contact that shelter about returning the pet. Network with your friends and family, contact rescues and shelters to see if they can help. On this page you will find a wealth of resources, so please take the time to read it thoroughly.

Please continue to care for your animal until a new home has been found.

Before You Take the Next Step

consider there might be a solution to your problem…

Is your Pet having behavioral Issues?

If you are dealing with a pet behavior problem, consider first consulting with your veterinarian. Many problems may be due to a treatable medical condition. For example, a house trained pet may begin urinating in the house due to a urinary tract infection rather than a behavior problem. If the reason for your possible surrender is a behavior issue we recommend you consider the following information:

  • Spaying or neutering can have a dramatic impact on a pet’s behavior. Please check with your veterinarian to see if this is an option you may want to try before surrendering your animal. Spay/Neuter programs
  • There are many helpful hints online. The internet can be a convenient source of information in a wide range of subject matter. Look at several sites before deciding which method of training will fit your life and concerns. Not every method works the first time so give it a chance. Try different methods. There is a lot of information out there.
  • Consult with an animal behaviorist, dog trainer or obedience school. Many of these classes and consultations are very inexpensive and yet have produced amazing results.
  • Discuss the problem with your vet. Your vet may be able to suggest a training method or even a medication to eliminate the problem.

Is Relocation or Housing the Concern?

In a recent study, “moving” and “landlord won’t allow” were among the top reasons for the relinquishment of pets to shelters. If you are moving and are having trouble finding animal-friendly housing, or are experiencing other pet-related housing difficulties, the HSUS has a few tips to consider here.

Are You Having Financial Problems?

We understand that many are going through some tough economic times and that the needs of your pets may be a strain on the budget. You may want to check into county government offices or church programs for information on area food pantries who offer assistance with pet foods and cat litter and by speaking with your vet’s office about temporarily doing only the necessary health maintenance care until finances improve.

Are You Experiencing Pet Allergies?

What really causes pet allergies?
Many people think dog and cat allergies are caused by fur, but in fact the major culprits are the saliva that sticks to your pet’s fur when they groom themselves, and the dander from the pet’s skin. The saliva can spread a protein that causes sneezing, a runny nose and itchy throat. Dogs with soft, constantly growing hair, such as Poodles or Bichon Frises, may be less irritating to some people—although that could be because they are groomed and bathed more frequently. In addition, one cat or dog of a particular breed may be more irritating to an allergy sufferer than another pet of the same breed.

Pet allergies can be manageable…
A pet allergy doesn’t always mean you can’t enjoy the company of a cat or dog. Following the tips below should help considerably with your allergies:

Your Pet…

  • Bathe your pet regularly
  • If your cat isn’t interested in being bathed, try wiping the cat frequently with a cat grooming wipe to remove saliva and dander.
  • Frequent brushing can also help reduce airborne allergens.

You…

  • Many people are allergic to more than one thing, so ask your doctor to test you for allergies to pet dander as well as dust and pollen.
  • If you are sensitive to more than one allergen, manage your exposure to all of them, since allergies have a cumulative effect.
  • An over-the-counter medication will help relieve itchy, watery eyes and itching of the nose and throat.

Your Home…

  • Create and “allergy free” zone in y our home where the pet is not allowed. The bedroom is best.
  • Put plastic covers on your pillows and mattress to prevent allergen particles from building up.
  • Invest in a vacuum and air purifiers with HEPA filters, which capture small particles including animal dander.
  • Clean your home frequently, and be sure to wash pet beds, couch covers and pillowcases
  • Avoid furnishing that trap dander, such as carpeting an cloth curtains

Babies and Pets: A GOOD COMBINATION!
Often when families welcome new babies into their homes they wonder if they should give up their dogs or cats just in case the baby develops and allergy to the pets. Recent studies have shown an interesting link between early exposure to pets and a decrease in the risk of developing allergies. Having pets in the first year of life may reduce the risk of developing allergic reactions not only to pets but also pollen, grasses, mold, and dust mites.

Is Your Pet Marking His or Her Territory?

The importance of scent
Scent is the primary way that cats communicate. Although they can’t be in two places at once to monitor their territory, they have many ways to leave their calling card.

For example, when one cat comes home from the vet, the other cats may treat him like a stranger at first. He looks the same, but that doesn’t matter to the cats at home. He smells different. He’ll have to get a good sniffing-over before he’s one of the gang again.

Marking by rubbing
Felines have scent glands on their cheeks and flanks, and when yours rubs against something—a door, a chair, you—he puts his own personal scent on that object. This leaves the message for the next cat that he’s been there and laid claim. Rubbing against you is a way of marking you as his and telling other cats to back off.

In a multi-cat household, all this rubbing helps to establish territories (at least temporarily) and to create bonds between the cats. Frequently, when two cats in the house meet up, they’ll sniff each other, and one will start rubbing and maybe even grooming the other. They may trade this activity back and forth for a while. This helps to reduce tension in the cat clan.

Marking by scratching
When your cat scratches something, he’s doing more than sharpening his claws; he’s leaving his scent as well.

Cats have scent glands on the pads of their feet, and scratching is another way of marking territory. In the wild, that’s not a problem, but in your house, it can be. Don’t punish your cat for doing what comes naturally—just train him to use a scratching post and leave the furniture alone.

Marking with urine
While miners used wooden pegs, string, and property deeds to stake their claims, wild animals usually use … urine. A lion will urinate on a tree to tell the next lion that comes along that the tree is taken, until the second lion pees on it. This instinct still lurks below the surface in your modern day house kitty, but if all goes well, you’ll never see it.

Urine-marking takes two forms:

  • Spraying urine on vertical surfaces
  • Urinating on horizontal surfaces

Spraying is when a cat backs up to a vertical surface with his tail erect and squirts urine. His tail often quivers while he’s spraying. Regular urinating is when he squats to pee on the furniture, the floor, things lying on the floor, or any other horizontal surface. Both males and females can (and do) spray and squat.

Marking with urine is not a litter box issue. Your cat has no problems with the litter box and uses it happily. Then why your cat is urine marking? There are several possible reasons your cat is urine marking:

He or she is unneutered or unspayed. The urge to spray is extremely strong in an intact cat, and the simplest solution is to get yours neutered or spayed by five months of age before there’s even a problem.

If you’ve adopted an unneutered adult cat, get him or her fixed as soon as possible. Neutering solves 90 percent of all marking issues, even in cats that have been doing it for a while. However, the longer you wait, the greater the risk you run of the surgery not doing the trick because the behavior is so ingrained.

Stress is a major cause of spraying. Cats are creatures of habit and many react really badly to the slightest change in their environment. This can include a new pet or new baby in the house, a new roommate, someone’s absence, new furniture, moving, a strange cat in the yard, and so many other things we may never know. Marking territory with urine is your cat’s way of dealing with stress. He feels anxious and is trying to relieve his anxiety by staking out his boundaries. Leaving his urine scent is the most emphatic way to say, “I’m stressed.”

Medical issues can be another cause of urine-marking. Particularly with male cats, a urinary tract infection—or much worse, a blockage—may be at fault if you cat suddenly stops using the litter box, or spends a lot of time trying to urinate and licking his genitals. Some cats will even urinate and cry right in front of you or try to urinate in the bathtub or sink to let you know something’s wrong.

If you see signs of medical problems, get your cat to the vet immediately. Urinary tract problems are not only painful, they can be fatal. A cat whose urinary tract is blocked can die in hours or suffer irreversible organ damage from the buildup of toxins in his system. Don’t wait around thinking it will clear up by itself or be fooled into thinking that your cat is constipated. It’s most likely a urinary tract problem. If your kitty gets a clean bill of health from the vet, his problem is all in his head.

If you have multiple cats: Whodunnit?

If you have only one cat, it’s obvious who’s misbehaving. But what if you have more than one? You need to do some detective work. It’s a process of elimination, which means you will isolate one cat at a time to see if the inappropriate behavior stops while he’s in isolation. This method isn’t foolproof, however, because if the culprit’s behavior is stress-induced, it may not occur if isolating him has removed him from the source of stress. Another method is adding fluorescent dye to the cats’ food (one cat at a time). The dye will glow in the cat’s urine when a black light is held over it. You have your culprit. Now that we know who it is, what do we do about it?

How to solve the problem

Resolving your cat’s stress is critical and requires time and plenty of patience and understanding from you. Here are a few tips:

  • Clean soiled areas immediately. Don’t use strong-smelling cleaners, because they may cause your pet to “over-mark” the spot.
  • Make previously soiled areas inaccessible or unattractive. If this isn’t possible, try to change the significance of those areas to your pet. Feed, treat, and play with your pet in the areas he’s inclined to mark.
  • Keep objects likely to cause marking out of reach. You should place items such as guests’ belongings and new purchases in a closet or cabinet.
  • Restrict your pet’s access to doors and windows through which he can observe animals outside. If this isn’t possible, discourage the presence of other animals near your house.
  • Use a product like Feliway® to inhibit your cat’s spraying.
  • If your pet’s feeling anxious, you might consider talking to your veterinarian about putting him on a short course of anti-anxiety medication while you are using behavior modification techniques.

Step Two: You’ve considered all your options and convinced you cannot keep your pet. If that’s the case, ensure your pet has a safe and caring new home.

Getting help from shelters and rescue groups

If you ultimately decide that you cannot keep your pet, you have several options. A great resource is your local animal shelters. Most shelters screen potential adopters to make sure that they will be able to provide a safe, responsible, and loving home for your pet.

The easiest place to start your search for your local animal shelter is online at theshelterpetproject.org. Here you can enter your zip code and find a list of animal shelters, animal control agencies, and animal care organizations in your community.  We also recommend that you contact  AAWL Owner Surrender Program | Arizona Animal Welfare League & SPCA.

If you have a dog of a specific breed, there may be a breed rescue organization in your area that will accept him and work to find him a new home. Purebred rescue groups are usually run by people with in-depth knowledge of a specific breed. Rescue groups usually keep adoptable animals until they can be placed in loving, permanent homes.

In some cases, breed rescues only work with animal shelters and may not accept pets directly from owners. Be sure to find out as much as you can about the rescue group, and always carefully screen a breed rescue organization before relinquishing your pet. You should make sure the current animal residents appear well cared for, that the group screens potential adopters, and that the group offers post-adoption support services. Do not be afraid to ask questions.

You can also contact rescue groups and request a courtesy post. Many times, this entails keeping the pet in your home while the rescue group advertises your pet on its website and petfinder.com. The group may allow you to bring your pet to an adoption event. Some organizations will provide you with information about the adoption process and application, and even allow you to approve the potential adopter. Check with your local rescue group for their specific policies and procedures regarding courtesy posts.

Finding a responsible home on your own

Be sure the animal’s best interests remain your top priority. Finding a new home for a pet can be difficult. A “good” home means a home where the animal will live for the rest of his or her life, where he or she will receive attention, veterinary care, and proper nutrition, and be treated as part of the family.
Follow these guidelines:

  • Advertise through friends, neighbors, and local veterinarians first; then try the newspaper, if all else fails. Your chances of finding a good home are increased when you check references with someone you know.
  • Visit the prospective new home in order to get a feel for the environment in which your pet will be living. Explain that the pet is part of your family and that you want to make sure she will be cared for properly and that you want to see how the animal responds to the new home. Screen potential homes carefully.
  • Don’t be fooled. If anyone refuses to allow you to visit their home, do not place your pet with them. Individuals known as “bunchers” routinely answer “free to good home” ads, posing as people who want family pets when, in actuality, they sell pets to animal dealers who in turn sell animals to institutions for invasive experiments. These people are “professionals” who may even bring children or their mothers with them when picking up pets.
  • Always be mindful of your own safety when you go to interview potential adopters or if you allow a prospective adopter to enter your home.
  • Carefully consider all the elements of the new home: Will your pet get along with small children? Is the family planning to keep the dog chained outside as a watch dog? Will the cat be kept only as a mouser? Does the family have a veterinary reference? Do not be shy about asking questions. Your pet’s life and happiness may depend on it.
  • Ask for a valid form of identification (preferably a driver’s license). Record the number for your records and require the new owner to sign a contract stating the requirements of adoption upon which both parties agree. As part of the contract, require the new owner to contact you if he or she decides at some point that they must give up the pet.
  • Have your pet neutered or spayed before he or she goes to the new home. This will make the animal more adoptable and help stop irresponsible breeding.
  • Contact these No-Kill Rescue Organizations to see if they can offer additional support/assistance: Download PDF Here

Finding a quality home for your pet can be a difficult and time-consuming process. But please remember you owe them this effort. They are counting on you!