Four things you need to know when responsibly rehoming your beloved companion.
Giving up your pet is usually a heart-breaking decision, but sometimes issues such as financial problems, health concerns, a move or family allergy mean you have to reluctantly find a new home for your furry or feathered friend. While it's usually a difficult process, here are some tips to help ease the transition.
1. Don't beat yourself up
Sometimes you can't help it when circumstances change. If your situation—no matter what it is—is no longer appropriate for animal ownership and giving up your pet increases its quality of life, you've made the right decision, says Roland Lines, communications manager at the Alberta Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
2. Consider new homes carefully
Re-homing is a stressful process for your pet, but there are some options that will lessen the impact of change more than others. For example, while a shelter is a common option for surrendering pets, there are risks involved, such as high stress for the pet, or, depending on shelter policies, risk of euthanasia. In certain shelters across Canada, all admitted animals become property of the shelter and will be placed in a new home or euthanized without prior notice to the admitter. Thousands of pets are left to shelters that don't have enough resources to provide for all of them, so a better alternative is to find a new home for your pet. You do can do so by asking your friends, family and neighbours, and putting up flyers around your neighbourhood, in your local pet store, park and veterinary clinics. According to Phil Nichols, Director of Operations at the Toronto Humane Society, all owners should try to prevent brining pets to any facility that houses a large number of animals, and find a home for them where they can receive more personal attention. "We do the best job we can to make shelters the most enriching environment for every animal that comes in here, but the reality is that we have hundreds of animals in our building, which will inherently create a stressful environment," he says.
3. Start matchmaking
It's all about finding someone who's not just willing to take in your pet, but is a good match for the animal and its activity level, says Nichols. "Ask questions about what the adopter's lifestyle is like. Try to match that up with the characteristics that you see in your pet. What's the activity in the house going to be like? Are there any children? Is your pet familiar with children? If they're not, you wouldn't want to introduce them into a home with a child," he says.
While Nichols says that each case is subjective when it comes to matching a pet with an adopter, one key trait to look for is patience. Routines make animals feel comfortable, and since moving to a new home disrupts the animal's daily routine, the adopter needs patience to help your pet adjust to its new surroundings. "Many early problems that occur with rehoming stem from trying to push the pet to be content in their new home too quickly," says Lines. You can't expect the rehomed pet to bond immediately with new owners or their other pets, until he or she feels comfortable with their new circumstances. It's hard to say how long it'll take, says Lines, but, with time, the animal will become comfortable with its new routine and it'll be happy again.
4. Use your resources
If you can't find a friend or family member to take in your pet, go to a local humane society or another animal adoption agency, Lines says. The Toronto Humane Society started the Facilitated Adoption Program to aid the rehoming process, by helping individuals go through the proper means of finding an adopter, so that the animal doesn't have to enter their facility. "Keep the animal's best interest in mind," says Nichols. "Don't try to fix everything yourselves first, because by the time you reach out for help within an organization, you'll have hit a point of emotional fatigue." Such organizations are prevalent across Canada and are experts at rehoming animals. They have the resources and procedures to make sure your pet ends up in the best home, and their screening process usually aims to reduce the chances of an animal being returned and having to go through another rehoming process.