For whatever reason you cannot keep your pet and need to get rid of it. Sadly many people go about this in the wrong way. Here are the best options.
For the purposes of this article, I am referring to pets that YOU own… not stray or lost animals, however I have included a small bit about these guys at the bottom of the article.
I will also note that if a person has made the decision that they are NOT the best owner for a pet, it is unfair to encourage them to keep the pet. However because there are more unwanted pets than there are homes, getting rid of a pet is always a risky thing. Put some thought into it before you simply get rid of any pet.
What Not To Do
DO NOT give an animal away as “Free to a Good Home”. Studies have shown that very few of these animals actually get “good homes”. Most never get any veterinarian care. Many never get fixed (spayed or neutered). Many who go missing are not looked for, their owners simply go get another free one. Some serial killers have admitted they started on “free to good home” pets. It is possible for somebody to accept a “free” pet, then sell it to a research lab or use it for snake food (as it is their animal now to do with as they will, dependent on area laws). A “good” owner would buy from a reputable breeder or adopt from a shelter.
DO NOT turn it loose, or dump it in the country. Farmers often shoot nuisance animals, or their own animals fight with the new comer. Many farm pets are not looked after to the extent city pets are used to… Many farm cats are not even fed regularly. You might think all farms need more pets, but in reality this is not the case. Abandoned dogs will run for hours after a owner who has driven away. Dumped pets suffer from the inability to find food or water. They are attacked by other animals, like coyotes. They are at risk for being hit by cars and left suffering for hours without care. In many areas this is a criminal offense known as “Animal Abandonment”.
DO NOT rehome an aggressive or sick pet. If you cannot find somebody willing to deal with its problems take it to the vet for euthanasia. In some areas you could be sued for knowingly passing on a problem pet to another person.
Photo by Author. This cat was left behind when his owners moved away. Although I agreed to keep him, and look after him, the owner did nothing to check to see if I was going to be a good owner for her cat.
What To Do
The first thing you need to do is admit why you are getting rid of the pet. Is it because of a condition on your part or something wrong with the pet? For example, many people get rid of cats because the cat is urinating in areas it should not. This is often a medical issue and should NOT be passed on to another owner. If you are not willing to treat the cat, then you should euthanize it rather than dumping it on another person (as mentioned above), or at least be honest about the problem. A new owner who knows of the issues will be more forgiving than anyone who gets a surprise.
If you got the pet from a Reputable Breeder you probably have a contract requiring you to return the pet to them. This contract is usually for the lifetime of the pet. As such the breeder is the first person you should call. The same applies to people who got pets from rescues or Animal Shelters. Read your contract or call them.
Call your local SPCA, Animal Shelter, or whomever deals with unwanted animals in your area. If you are not sure who that is, call a veterinarian. In some areas there are “no-kill” shelters but these are usually full, and this is not always the best option for an animal. They may sit in a cage for years, never getting a home. Other, more adoptable, animals will be euthanized because of your animal sitting in a cage taking up room. If your pet is a problem animal, do not take it to a no-kill shelter were it will only become more of a problem and get more stressed.
Shelters who do euthanize animals after a period of time give animals a fair chance, if the animal is not adopted after a good period of time, it probably will never get adopted and will be humanely euthanized. If your animal is one which is in high demand, they may even have a waiting list and can help find the pet a new home quickly. Be honest… DO NOT lie and tell them the animal is a stray, this will not help your pet. People are more likely to adopt an animal with a known history and some information, than one who comes in as a stray. Shelters are more likely to put an animal up for adoption of they know something about it. When you give them your pet, make sure you give them a few of its favorite toys and its food as well.
If your pet is older, less adoptable, but is spayed or neutered, you “MIGHT” be able to find it a good home. Ask a small fee, and be willing to do home checks. Do not allow a dog to go to a home without a fenced yard. Make sure any prospective owners either own their home or have landlord permission. Are their other pets in good health? Do not be in too much of a hurry to get rid of your pet that you place it in a questionable home. Do not give an animal to anyone who will not give you their name and phone number.
The truth is that unless your pet is under two years of age, or is of an unusual breed, it probably wont have much chance at finding a new owner. Small non-shedding dogs are in demand, but an untrained, older, active, big dog will not have much chance, especially if it is not spayed or neutered. Just because you love it (or maybe you don’t) does not mean any one else will love it. Accept the truth from a shelter if they tell you that your dog (or cat) is not adoptable. It will be less stressful to these animals for you to take them straight to the vet for euthanasia.
The reality is that more animals are born every year than there are homes for.
If you have a problem with animals in your yard and are trying to get rid of them the only thing you can do (in most areas according to law) is to take them to the pound, SPCA, animal shelter, etc, whomever deals with strays in your area. This is too allow an owner a chance to find them, or for them to be put for adoption to find a new owner, or to be euthanized humanely. Picking up strays and dumping them in other parts of your city or country is generally considered Theft and Animal Abandonment.
In most areas if your neighbours pet makes a nuisance of itself coming onto your property you can also take it to the pound or shelter.
Always think carefully before getting rid of a pet, once you have signed it over to somebody else you may not be able to get it back. To avoid being upset, it is best to plan carefully BEFORE getting any pet.