How to Surrender Dog to Shelter (Preparation)

If you have a dog you can no longer care for, then you need to know how to surrender your dog to a shelter.

This blog post will provide all the information you need to ensure your pet is safe and increase their chances of finding a new home.

What to Do if You Can’t Care for Your Dog

Surrendering your dog can be beneficial for you and the animal.
If you can’t care for your dog, it’s best to surrender it to those who can.

If you find yourself unable to care for your dog, there are some steps you can take to ensure that they end up in a loving home.

Family and Friends

First, try asking friends or family members if they would be willing to take in your dog.

If you have a good relationship with your veterinarian, they may also be able to help by finding a new home for your pet or providing financial assistance for his care.

Online Rehoming Options

If asking friends or your veterinarian doesn’t work, there are several online resources, such as Petfinder and Adopt-a-Pet, that can help you find a new home for your dog.

These websites allow you to create a profile for your pet and connect with potential adopters looking for a furry friend.

Surrender to a Shelter

If all other options fail, rest assured that shelters are equipped to provide care and find new homes for surrendered animals.

Reach out to your local animal shelter and let them know you need to surrender your pet.

They will be able to help you through the process and provide any necessary paperwork.

Ensure your dog’s medical records and any information about their personality and behavior is handy.

This will help the shelter find the best possible placement for your pet.

Read our related article, Where Can I Surrender My Dog for Free? for more information.

How to Find a Good Home

Do some digging to find out about the different shelters and rescues in your area, and see if you can get a personal recommendation from someone you trust.

Once you have a few options narrowed down, make sure to visit the facilities in person.

This will allow you to see how the animals are treated and feel about the environment.

It’s also essential to ask questions about how dog adoption works and what kind of support they offer after the adoption is finalized.

Taking the time to find a good home for your dog will give you peace of mind knowing that they’re going to a loving family who will provide them with everything they need.

Benefits of Surrendering to a Shelter

The right shelter could be a blessing in disguise for your dog.
Though it may not seem like it, the right shelter may be a blessing in disguise for your dog if you’re unable to give it the care and attention it needs.

Surrendering a dog to a shelter can be difficult. However, there are also several benefits to doing so.

  • Shelters provide surrendered dogs with the essentials including food, water, and primary medical care. This can be a massive relief for owners struggling to afford these things. 
  • Shelters also offer a safe environment for dogs. They have trained staff who can help socialize timid dogs and provide them with the necessary exercise. 
  • Surrendering a dog to a shelter allows them to find a new home that is better suited to your dog’s needs.
  • Each dog at a shelter will receive plenty of individual attention and be matched with a family best suited for their needs. 

Ultimately, it’s up to each owner to decide what is best for their pet.

However, offering a dog to a shelter can give them the care and attention they need to thrive.

Read More: Are Shelter Dogs Safe? We address common concerns in this guide.

Preparing Your Dog

It can be hard to let go of a pet, but sometimes it’s the best decision.

If you have decided to surrender your dog to a shelter, there are some things you can do to help make the transition as smooth as possible:

  • Find a reputable shelter that you are comfortable with that will take good care of your dog.
  • Ensure your dog is healthy and up-to-date on all their vaccinations.
  • Provide the shelter with information about your dog’s personality, behavior, and any special needs they may have to help the staff match your dog with the right family.
  • Say goodbye to your dog, and be assured you’re making the best decision for them.

If you’re needing to rehome your furry friend, just know that you’re not alone in your grief.

Watch this video on coping with surrender grief and guilt:

Read More: Do Animal Shelters Offer Vaccinations? All shelter dogs are vaccinated. Here’s everything to know about dog vaccines.


If your attempts at rehoming have been unsuccessful, surrendering your dog to a shelter can be a safe alternative if you do your research.

Make sure to ask questions about the adoption process, visit the shelter, and learn all you can to ensure your dog gets into the right hands.

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Jesse Hopping, CCDT

Jesse is a natural-born dog-lover certified dog trainer (CCDT), dog foster, and former volunteer at Richmond SPCA and surrounding dog shelters for over 10 years. Her pack includes a Bernedoodle and 3 Boston Terriers. She’s sipping caramel coffee and watching her pack play in the sun when she’s not writing blogs. Jesse has her Certified Dog Trainer designation from CATCH Canine Trainers Academy since 2018 and and majored in English from the University of Virginia.

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