By Doug Jimerson

It’s never an easy decision to rehome your pet. After all, our pets give us undivided love and attention and in return all they ask is a stable and healthy home for their entire lives. But sometimes, due to family situations, job changes, or illness, parting with your beloved pet may be your only option.

If this is the case, there are several things you should keep in mind before you take action.

First: If at all possible, try to find a friend, family member, or neighbor who will happily take in your pet and treat it as a new family member—not a burden they are forced to deal with. And make sure they are committed to making a long-term commitment to your pet to avoid your animal from being uprooted more than once.

Second: If you have a purebred pet, do some research to see if you can find a local rescue organization that specializes in your breed. You’ll be surprised to discover how many specialty rescues exist for breeds as varied as Jack Russell terriers and Greyhounds. Then, contact them to see if they have space in their rescue or if they know another group that can take your pet if theirs is too full.

Three: Check with your local veterinarians and shelters to see if they know of anyone who might be interested in adopting a pet. Sometimes they may know of a person who just lost a dog or cat to old age and might be encouraged to take on a new member of the family.

Four: Advertising your pet online is a double-edged sword. You just might find the perfect owner, yet again you might be sentencing your animal to a rough life with owners who just don’t care. If you decide to advertise your pet be sure to do research on potential owners by checking references with their veterinarian and by visiting their home in person.

Five: Of course, your other option is to take your pet to the local animal shelter. Try to find a shelter that euthanizes animals only as a last resort and one where the animals look clean and healthy. Remember, the huge majority of animals who enter shelters in the United States do not ever come out so talk to the shelter staff about the reality of whether your pet will find a home or not.

Six: Never dump your pet! Not only is this illegal, it’s also immoral. Your dog and cat will not survive left to fend for themselves on the side of the road. Not only that, it’s more than likely they’ll die from being hit by a car (or cause a car accident) than wander into someone else’s yard and live a happy life. Don’t fool yourself; dumping your pet is a hideous act that will condemn your animal to death.

Some Tips on How to Avoid Rehoming

If, like me, you have ever worked at an animal shelter, probably the three most common reasons you heard about why pets are relinquished are: 1) “The landlord won’t allow pets,” 2) “I’m moving and can’t take it with me,” and 3) “We’re having a baby.”

Before adopting a pet, think ahead. Does your lease say pets are prohibited? Is there a chance your job will force you to move out of state? In the case of a baby coming, if introduced properly, your dog or cat will love having a new member of the family and will treat them like one of their own.

Of course, as a pet lover I believe most excuses for needing to rehome a pet are weak – there are plenty of landlords who will allow pets and moving across the country with your animal is not difficult. And, having a pet is a great thing for kids because it helps teach them compassion and responsibility.