Thursday, October 28th, 2021

P Shopper Columns


One of the most difficult parts of working at an animal shelter is walking a surrendered dog away from its owner. When an animal is left behind, they don't understand why they're away from their families. They don't understand that their families aren't coming back. Not every owner sees their pets as family, but every pet sees their owner that way.  Adoption should be a lifetime commitment and deeply-deliberated decision. That being said, situations may arise which cause an owner to question keeping their companion. Before relinquishing an animal, owners should explore the resources available to help them keep their pet.

Social media is a phenomenal resource for locating both financial and behavioral assistance. Many communities have groups on Facebook regarding animal rehoming, resources, and advice. Members of these groups would much rather help an owner keep their pet than rehome it. Social media can also be used to rehome directly to an adopter, rather than subjecting the pet to the stress of a shelter environment. Measures should be taken to ensure the applicants are qualified, such as a meet-and-greet prior to adoption, charging a rehoming fee, and asking for veterinary references.

Not every owner sees their pets as family,
but every pet sees their owner that way.
Adoption should be a lifetime commitment
 and deeply-deliberated decision.

If a pet is not spayed or neutered, up-to-date on vaccines and heartworm prevention, and heartworm negative, a shelter or rescue is the best option to ensure a pet receives proper veterinary care before entering its new home. Many shelters offer lists of local resources, including other rescues which may be able to help. Rescues are often less stressful than a shelter, may place their animals in foster homes rather than kennels, and will likely get the pet adopted more quickly. This reduces the chances of an animal developing fearful, aggressive, and depressed behaviors due to the stress of being confined in a kennel with limited human interaction. Animals relinquished by their owners do not have to go through a hold period, so always make sure admissions staff knows that a pet is not a stray animal. Owners who must surrender to a shelter should schedule the surrender appointment in advance, as some shelters accept owner surrenders by appointment only. They should also consider thoroughly vetting their pet prior to the surrender appointment (or reaching out for assistance to do so.) This makes it possible for the pet to be adopted more quickly, as most shelters must sterilize an animal before placing it up for adoption. Reach out to your local shelter with questions about alternatives to rehoming or surrendering a pet. One of the most special parts of owning a pet is the bond we share with them. Our companions show us love and devotion; we owe the same to them.

Breonna Loxley is an animal care technician at an animal shelter. She is an avid artist, writer, and animal-lover. She lives with her parents, a younger brother, two cats, and one dog.