5 Things to Do Before Surrendering Your Pet to A Shelter

Did you foster or adopt a new pet during the stay-at-home mandates of COVID-19? Taking care of a pet requires an ongoing commitment of time and resources, especially as a new pet owner learns what it takes to look after your furry four-legged friend. However, if you’ve adopted a pet and begin to face some challenges, giving a pet back to the shelter or rescue organization should always be a last resort.


Here are 5 things to do before surrendering your pet back to a shelter:


  1. If finances are an issue, check out local food banks to get pet food.


Spending money on anything is tough during these unprecedented and uncertain times.  If you find yourself struggling with financing your pet’s needs, try out this alternative: find a food bank in your community to see if they also give away pet food. Miami-Dade Animal Services has been operating food distribution events providing free pet food for Miami-Dade residents, allowing Miami pet owners to reduce their financial stress. Additionally, you can contact www.thepetprojectfl.org, a nonprofit that provides pet food, vaccinations, and other services, and sometimes even veterinary care, to qualified individuals in need of temporary assistance.

Hungry Cat - FoMA Pets

  1. To reduce the cost of vet bills – negotiate a payment plan with your vet


Try speaking to your pet’s vet before urgent care is needed and explore ways to provide care if the time comes. Another way to spread out the expenses is to apply for pet insurance.  For a set monthly or yearly fee, you can get some veterinary services your pet may need or help cover extraordinary medical needs that may come up. Other options include CareCredit, which breaks your vet bills into lower monthly payments, and see if you qualify for loan assistance to help your pet get the urgent care needed.



  1. If your pet is having behavioral issues, hire a trainer for a couple of sessions to learn how to teach your pet, or leverage free online resources.


If your pet has been challenging you with some naughty behaviors, don’t give up. Sometimes all they need is a little practice and gentle discipline. Hiring a personal trainer for just a couple of sessions can really turn around your pet’s behavior and helps you learn what you need to help your pet be their best — patience is key! You may also look for online resources through leading national pet organizations to help you with basic behavior challenges. Practice makes better and you and your pet will be much happier and have a clear understanding of its place in your family with a little basic training and practice.

Young Dog in Harness - FoMA Pets


  1. Time – let your pets out!


If your schedule prevents you from letting your pet out during the day and you are feeling guilty, you can explore using a service like Wag or Rover so that someone can take them on a long walk while you are at work. These services make not just your life a little easier, but also your pet’s.  You can also work with your pet on crate training and potty training, so that while you are at work, your pet waits patiently for you to return. Whatever the circumstances, don’t give up on your pet and your pet won’t give up on you. Remember: even if you work long hours, the time at home you do have with your pet is better than no time—which is what your pet had when it was still at the shelter.

Puppy and his Toy - FoMA Pets

  1. As a last resort, you can try to re-home your pet with a friend or family member if you absolutely cannot take care of them


If you are moving overseas, have allergies, or another medical condition that makes it impossible to care for your pet, re-homing your pet with someone you know is a great option.   This also allows you to maintain a connection with your pet, as well as giving you peace of mind because someone you know and trust is taking care of your furry friend.  A great plus is that you may be able to visit them and give them some extra love. If this is not possible, search for a list of all no-kill rescues in your area. Sometimes smaller, closed-admission rescues or shelters can place pets with a foster family to give your pet the best chance for a good outcome. If surrendering your pet is your only option, consider a rescue rather than the shelter. Oftentimes shelters are overcrowded, and animals tend to do better when placed in the hands of a foster family from a rescue rather than at the shelter. If you must surrender your pet, please be sure to provide information on your pet’s personality, likes and dislikes and funny things your pet does or things your pet doesn’t like, as well as all veterinary records. This will help when finding the perfect match for your furry family member.

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