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Giving up a beloved pet is never an easy decision to make, even when it's unavoidable. Many people who have to surrender their pet to a shelter or new home never before imagined that they would be forced to make such a horrible choice. Feeling guilty is normal, but with some care the transition can be as smooth as possible for both you and your pet. This article will help you manage the rehoming process so that your pet has a better chance of finding the right new family quickly, and with minimal stress.
Time is the most important factor of all as it governs the number of options available to you - depending on your circumstances you may have a few months, or even just days to find your pet a new owner. Once you have determined that you have no choice but to say goodbye to your pet, leave as much time as possible to find a new home - never wait until the last minute. The more time you have, the better your options. Carefully exploring your options will prevent problems down the line, and allow you to manage the rehoming process more efficiently. Most pet owners find three avenues the most promising: shelters, friends and acquaintainces, or temporary fostering.
Using a permanent rehoming centre will ensure your pet has the best chance of adoption with the right family. Rescue staff are often volunteers that love animals. Though they may ask you why you need to give up your pet, rest assured that they are likely to be sympathetic and want to help you. Shelters have the resources to get to know their intake, and will be able to use your input to find a suitable new owner. Because they know so much about animal care, they are more likely to be able to accommodate any special needs your pet may have, as well as provide support to your pet's new owners if they need it. Most importantly they will vet any prospective new owners to make sure they have adequate space and time to properly care for your pet. Home-checks are an integral part of the adoption process at most rescues, therefore you can be confident that your pet will be sent to a safe, loving home. Getting your pet admitted to a shelter can be difficult and may require some research and effort on your part. There is often a waitlist in place at the most in-demand facilities, and some may ask for a donation. If one shelter turns you down or is unsuitable, ask for advice on any other local options. Alternatively, see if they can help you rehome your pet whilst you continue to care for him or her via direct rehoming. If your cat or dog has special needs or a pedigree, there may be charities that can offer assistance. It never hurts to ask (or Google) to hunt down national groups that may have local fosterers or advisers. Many shelters will not put healthy animals to sleep, while others may have varying euthanasia policies. Whatever your opinion on euthanasia be sure to ask about it before you surrender your pet.
Given the long waits associated with shelters, it can be tempting or even necessary to find a new owner by yourself. The upshot is that you'll have total control over the process and be able to handpick your pet's new home, but you may experience many issues along the way. If at all possible, try to rehome your pet with someone you already know and trust - family, friends, colleagues, and neighbours all make good candidates. They may be able to help you by recommending someone they know who wants a new pet. If no one in your social network can help, the next step may be to place an ad online, at your vet's office or in your local paper. This can sometimes be dicey, as it will be up to you to determine the suitability of any potential new owners. The process may not be as easy as it seems, and in the worst case you could end up in a dispute with the new owner or otherwise regret your decision. Remember that once you have handed over your pet, it may not be possible to get him or her back if you change your mind about the new owner. If you do place your pet up for adoption yourself, do not advertise him or her to the public as "free to a good home". Though this may seem like a good way to attract more potential adopters, you are actually opening the door to people who may abuse your pet. Advertise your pet with a nominal fee, which you can then decide to waive if you find a trustworthy adopter.
There are certain circumstances in which you may need to surrender your pet temporarily or on an indefinite basis. If you are forced to leave your home on short notice, need to go into hospital, or are escaping a violent domestic situation there are fostering programmes in place to help you and your pet in your time of need. Call Dogs Trust, Cats Protection or a relevant protection league to find out if they can help. Your local veterinary surgery may also be able to point you in the right direction.
You wouldn't be making this decision if it weren't absolutely necessary, and it's important to take solace in the fact that you have done everything in your power to find your companion a new home. It's ok to ask for occasional updates on your pet if you know where its new home is, but try not to linger too much on what could have been. After all if you've found your pet a good home, you've set him or her up for many more happy years of kibbles and cuddles.
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