It’s barely been a week since you adopted T-Rex and he’s already chewed through two sofas, four remotes and a chunk of wall molding by the front door.
You decide he’ll eat you out of house and home and has to go. What do you do if you don’t want your dog anymore?
Assessing the Issue
Let’s look at some typical scenarios. The above example was similar to the story I heard about Mike, a Boxer/pit mix, when I found out he was returned to the shelter by his adoptive parents. His owners really wanted a puppy but ended up working 10-hour days, and a very bored 3-month old Mike was home all day long with nothing to do. Sometimes dogs are not a good fit with your lifestyle, so please be realistic when adopting an animal.
You might also have arrived home with your ball of fluff only to be told, “No way!” by your partner. One time I couldn’t keep a stray puppy simply because I was already at my limit of dogs and cats, and one more just wouldn’t be possible. Some issues can be resolved with behavior training, spaying or neutering, or enrolling your dog in a pet day care center where they provide all-day activities. Others problems (such as allergies) can be difficult to control around animals.
Whatever the reason for not keeping your dog, please read through our suggestions below before deciding on a course of action.
If you have paperwork from your purchase or adoption, set that aside. Write a list of qualities about the dog so someone else can assess him for potential adopters. Does your dog go crazy if he sees a cat? Does he hate storms or howl at loud noises? Has he ever bitten anyone or is food aggressive? This can help the next person know how to handle your dog and find a good match for his new home.
Add in any medical ailments or medications, the last known date of vaccinations and flea and heartworm treatment or preventives. Bathe and groom your dog so he looks his best. The less work the veterinary techs or rescue personnel have to do on your dog, the faster he can get on the list for adoption.
Ask friends or family if they would be interested in taking the dog. A friend of mine received a Labrador Retriever as a gift, but he was simply too much dog for the family. She asked around and ended up finding a family member able to give the dog the attention he needed, and she felt comfortable knowing the dog would be well looked after.
Is your dog a specific breed? Breed-specific rescues often pull dogs from shelters and animal control offices, so going straight to a rescue might give your dog a better chance of getting a permanent home faster.
Search the internet for the name of the breed + “rescue” and your state. If there isn’t one listed, search for another state and contact them. Sometimes transport can be arranged between shelters and rescues.
Animal sanctuaries may exist in your area. Search your location with “animal sanctuary” to find one near you. Some of these places may offer adoption services or allow the animals to live out their lives at the sanctuary forever. Make sure to contact them to find out if they are legitimate and if they take in dogs.
Taking the dog to an animal shelter is another option. Keep in mind that if they are at full capacity, you might be referred to an animal control office. Ask if the shelter is a no-kill facility.
Some dogs simply will not cope well in confined areas for long periods of time. If you know of any anxiety or confinement issues with your dog, you may want to look at another option.
Very often military members are given orders to go to a location or base and can’t take their pet with them because of pet policies or breed bans. If you’re getting stationed and don’t know what to do with your dog, check out Dogs on Deployment. This nonprofit organization finds temporary boarders for military pets until their owners come home. We appreciate your service to our country, and we want you to be able to keep your pet!
Animal control offices are usually run by the local government and will typically euthanize animals. I always try to go to my no-kill shelter first — but if they’re at capacity, this is where they might send you.
If you have tried all other options, this may be the last place you can bring your dog. Animals do get pulled from animal control; I’ve even seen bully breeds pulled and sent to my shelter if they were scheduled for euthanization.
Dumping Isn’t Cool
Dumping a dog somewhere is a terrible option that comes with plenty of hazards.
Never assume someone will find your dog and take care of him. The dog could also stay there waiting for you to return or try to run back home. Another animal could attack your dog, he could be hit by a car (luckily this dog wasn’t), contract a disease and possibly spread it or contribute to the pet overpopulation problem if he’s not fixed (or become pregnant if female).
If you’ve considered this action, please don’t do it.
Many people use newspapers and online listings to offer their dog to a good home. I don’t like this because of the risks. Mary and Joe Smith may sound like ideal pet parents, but they could also be animal abusers or pose as a front to an animal testing service or clinic. Bully breeds can be targeted for fighting rings, and tiny dogs could be sought after for baiting these dogs.
Whatever your reasons, if you’ve decided you don’t want your dog anymore, please take these suggestions into consideration. You cared enough about your dog to give him a home; let’s hope you’ll give him a good chance of finding his next one.
Photos: Huba/Flickr (top), Dogs on Deployment