Things to Consider Before You Give-Up a Pet

Perhaps you made a pet purchase/adoption decision in haste, or maybe there has been a sudden change in your life circumstance, and you find yourself in a spot of trouble when it comes to meeting the demands of pet ownership. Now what?



After the excitement of bringing home a new pet--be it a puppy or kitten, dog or cat--the reality of pet ownership settles-in really fast. From early morning walks and messes to clean-up to expenses for routine care and treatment of illness, owning a pet is a daily chore and a lifetime commitment. Many people take on pet responsibilities with the seriousness (and joy) it deserves, but there are just as many who realize they took on too much. They then must make the difficult decision to give up a pet. It’s imperative to give thoughtful consideration to the decision to re-home a pet by researching options and doing what is best for the animal’s wellbeing.


DON’T Do These Things When You Can’t Keep a Pet


These four scenarios are inhumane approaches to dealing with a pet you cannot keep. Any of these can result in the animal becoming seriously ill, injured, abused, or being killed:

  1. Don’t leave the pet at a shelter. They will likely end-up euthanized.

  2. Don’t post the pet on Craig’s List or any similar site.

  3. Don’t dump the dog or cat on a highway, in a park, or wooded area.

  4. Don’t give the pet to a stranger/ person you know very little about.

DO Take These Steps When You Can’t Keep a Pet

If you purchased a pet form a verified breeder or rescue, you are obligated to contact them to return the dog or cat to their care. Please refer to your adoption contract for details.


If you purchased from a store or puppy mill (which we hope you did not), then you likely will not be able to return the animal from whence it came. You will need to do some research and make an informed choice as to what is feasible for you and in the best interest of the dog or cat.

  1. Research local rescues. Every state, including Delaware has a variety of types of animal rescues. Additionally, websites for specific breeds, the SPCA and the Humane Society all keep a list of rescues. (You veterinarian’s office might as well). Contact these rescues to see who has space to take your pet. You will, in some cases, have to explain your situation.

  2. Options for Pet Illness Care Costs. If your pet is ill and you can’t afford the medical care, there are charitable organizations that help pet owners with these costs so that the pet does not need to be re-homed or sent to a shelter. One such organization in Delaware is Thorin’s Promise, which acts as that “someone in your corner to help you get the urgent medical care your pet needs at a time when they need it most.”

  3. Talk to People in the Know About Pets: If you are having training issues, behavior issues, or petcare issues, talk to pet store managers, veterinarians, rescue staff, animal trainers and behaviorists about your situation. If daily care of the pet is an issue, talk to local pet sitting service providers about affordable options to help you out. If you are sincere, demonstrate that you care about the dog or cat, they will provide a listening ear and--in all likelihood--solutions you may not have thought of or thought possible.

  4. Reach out to friends, family, neighborhood social groups, etc. Perhaps someone you know can adopt the pet from you.

Once you’ve done your research, taken notes, contemplated the options, and chosen the option that best fits your situation with the dog or cat, you need to prepare to say goodbye.


Get Your Pet Ready for Good-bye

Once you know where the pet will be going, prepare all of the items you own for the pet:

  • Health records, tags, vaccination records, etc.

  • Food, bowls, treats

  • Toys, bedding

  • Collars and leashes

All of these items should be boxed and ready to go with the animal.


Stay positive, be supportive of any family members who are struggling with this choice and remind them why it is what is best for the animal.


Have you successfully re-homed a Pet?

Do you have tips for readers who are facing this difficult decision? Share your story, tips, advice in the comments.







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