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Pet Surrender and Adoption: Do it with knowledge, prudence and selflessness



Sadly, life can quickly pull the carpet from under you and you may find yourself in a position where you have to surrender your pet. There are many unexpected and difficult factors that can arise. Some reasons a pet is surrendered may be:

  • Prolonged loss of income

  • Relocation and not being able to take your pet because of distance, cost and/or housing does not allow pets (more often dogs). This happens frequently with seniors facing retirement/long-term care placement.

  • Loss of your physical health and capacity to provide appropriate care

Should you find yourself in such a situation, be informed and do research to find the best option for your pet. Call friends and family, perhaps someone is willing to take your pet or they may know of a friend of a friend who would be thrilled to do so. You can also reach out to your veterinarian; they too may be able to assist you in finding a place for your pet. Research and speak with rescue groups, there are many dedicated people who rescue and foster. Call your local shelter. Should the shelter be filled to capacity, do not settle for “sorry we are full,” ask questions. They should be able to provide you with further advice and direction. Most importantly, securing a safe and secure future for your pet should always be top priority. Life happens, pet ownership is a responsibility to take seriously.


Surrendering your pet due to sudden and unexpected life change is equally as grievous as losing your pet through death and you will grieve as deeply. Hopefully in having the knowledge that your pet was surrendered to a rescue or a new home and is being cared for will help in alleviating some of the pain and guilt. Should you find yourself struggling, I am available for online appointments conducted with your mental health and privacy in mind. Contact me any time: petlosscounsellingtoronto@gmail.com . As well, there many support resources like pet loss forums, books and information websites available to help gently guide you through your grief journey.


On the other hand, should you be deliberating about adopting, do your “homework”. If you are about to become a first-time pet-parent, it is important that you are aware of what comes with adopting a pet. Unfortunately, many do not take the time to educate themselves and ask enough questions about pet ownership and often find themselves back at the shelter returning a pet. It is no less heartbreaking than having to surrender as noted above. It is quite astonishing how quickly we bond with a pet. Be prepared, go with a list of questions, no question is a “stupid” question. Sometimes the shelter does not have all the answers as they do not know of the animal’s history, but they should have a sufficient understanding of the animal’s behaviours.


The most repeated comment I hear especially regarding dogs is “I didn’t realize how much work it is to have a dog.” Training is 24/7, 365 days for approximately the next 12-15 years. The financial responsibility for either a dog or cat can be taxing; food, treats, accessories and of course veterinarian care. A healthy adult dog can cost on average $200 - $400 per year, a cat $90 - $200. There is no guarantee that your pet will be healthy and if he/she is, for how long. As your furry friend ages, undoubtedly there will be more visits to the vet clinic, the bills add up quickly. For a dog there is finding time to walk, depending on the breed you may need to walk on average three times a day no matter the weather. Some people who have indoor cats chose to take their cat for a walk as well. Obviously, the time is much reduced. With regards to dogs, socializing your dog is another big component. Dogs are social animals and enjoy being with a pack and that pack includes you. Taking your dog to a dog park and giving them the opportunity to run and play with their buddies will not only give them lots of fun and tire them out, it will also leave you with a true feeling of satisfaction and joy as well. And of course, need I even mention, cuddling with your pet is priceless.


Whether someone finds they are having to surrender a pet or are thinking of adopting one, it should always be done with knowledge, prudence and selflessness.



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