Rehoming Your Dog

If after you believe you’ve tried everything and you still cannot keep your dog, PLEASE consider other rehoming options instead of surrendering your dog to a shelter. NOTE: If you originally obtained your dog from a shelter or rescue, contact that organization first, if possible. Many adoption contracts require that you notify them if the adoption did not work out or you are no longer able to keep the dog.

Some frequently asked questions from people considering surrendering their pets:

Won’t a shelter rehome my pet?

You might think shelters would be better at placing pets because they have experience, screening guidelines, etc. But, the fact is that someone like you, who loves and knows your dog, will be much more successful finding a good home because you can provide the most information to prospective adopters and can best determine the appropriateness of a new home.

Also, it’s so much better for your dog if he or she can stay with you until a new home is found. Even the best, nicest shelters are very scary and stressful for a dog. The shelter setting itself can cause your dog to have stress-related problems like depression, anxiety, aggression, and even illness which may make adoption difficult or impossible.

So, the best thing for your dog, emotionally as well as physically, is to try to find him or her a new family yourself.

What about dog rescues? Can’t I surrender to them?

The majority of animal rescues do not take owner surrenders. However, it’s always a good idea to check to see if any in your local area do. The best way to find them is to contact them and/or look at their websites. One great resource for finding contact information and website addresses for rescues near you is Petfinder Shelter/Rescue Search – Use your zipcode to search.

Rehoming Resources

A great to find a new home for your dog is to let as many people know as you can that you’re thinking of rehoming him/her. This can be done using online sites dedicated to featuring pets needing new families, or via word of mouth.

Animal Rescues (Courtesy Posts)

Many nonprofit humane societies and animal rescues accept courtesy listings for their websites from those seeking to rehome a companion animal. This means that your dog stays with you, but the organization posts a picture and bio of your dog on their website to get the word out, and interested people will contact you directly.

Professional On-line Rehoming Services*

These sites are a great resource for getting the word out far and wide about your dog so you can find the best fit. Each site has step-by-step instructions to make the process of listing your dog easy.

*These resources are provided as an informational resource. We cannot guarantee that any of the organizations listed will be able to help in your specific situation. Listing does not imply endorsement by us.

Tips for posting online:

When posting your dog online, make sure you include detailed, accurate information and great photos. The profile/bio is how you “introduce” your dog to potential adopters and allow them to decide if they are interested in pursuing an adoption. For important tips and resources for writing a great bio, go here.

Rehoming your dog via word of mouth

Tell trusted family, friends, coworkers, your veterinarian, groomer, boarding staff, and others you know (and who know your dog) that you are wanting to rehome your pet.

Post information on your social media or neighborhood message board that you are needing to rehome your dog.

NOTE: Even if you know a potential adopter, it’s still a good idea to screen them just as you would strangers, and do a meet and greet or home visit to make sure that they are a good fit for your dog.


Avoid personal or classified ads (e.g., Craigslist) as a way to rehome your pet. Experts warn that many animals advertised like this have wound up victims of abuse and neglect, rehomed to backyard breeders, hoarders, dog-fighting rings, or other criminal elements. This is also why you should never give your dog away for free (although charging a modest rehoming fee is appropriate and recommended).

Find out as much as you can about potential adopters. It’s important that you interview any potential adopters so you can find the best fit for your dog. Things to find out: Do they have prior experience caring for pets? Do they have a home and/or yard big enough to accommodate your dog? Do they have the financial means to care for your pet – especially if your dog has special needs or a chronic medical condition? Most importantly, do they have the lifestyle and/or realistic expectations about living with your pet? For instance, placing an active dog with someone who is gone for 8-12 hours a day will not likely end well.

Take your time. In order to find the right fit for your dog, you will need to wait for someone to indicate interest, carefully review applications, and meet potential adopters in person (with your dog), either by doing a meet and greet or a home visit. This all takes time, but it will be time well worth it when you finally find a new wonderful, loving family for your deserving dog. If you rush any of it, then you run the risk of the dog being surrendered by the new adopter, which is even more traumatic for your dog!


Dumping a dog (or any pet for that matter) somewhere is a terrible, inhumane option! Never assume someone will find your dog and take care of them. The dog will be distressed and confused and may stay there waiting for you to return and suffer from hunger and thirst. Or the dog may try to run back home and could be hit by a car or attacked by another animal. Bottom line: the fate of abandoned pets is almost always tragic, so PLEASE, just don’t do it!

Last Resort: When You Are Unable to Rehome

If you have tried everything you can think of and your rehoming efforts are unsuccessful, here are some last-resort options:

(Note:  Some shelters call themselves no-kill but still euthanize pets they consider “unadoptable” such as those with behavior or medical issues or senior pets. So call first to check.)