The following table explains some of the steps you can take if you are thinking about rehoming your dog.
1. Evaluate your reasons If you can find an alternative solution to whatever problem is preventing you from keeping your pet, it will mean one less dog that needs rescuing or rehoming. While organisations do their best, there are always far too many dogs to rescue. Please seek advice or help if you can. There is some good information available online. See: Can We Help You Keep Your Pet?
2. Try contacting the dog’s breeder If all the available alternatives fail, and your dog is a pure bred dog from a reputable breeder, you should try to make contact with the breeder to see if they are able to take the dog back for rehoming.
3. Contact rescue groups If the breeder can not take the dog back, try to contact a breed-related rescue group. See: Australian Dog Rescue Links and the breed pages of this site.
4. Try to rehome the pet yourself If you are unable to find an alternative solution or someone who can take in your pet, then you need to try and find your pet a new home yourself. See: Finding a new home for your pet
5. Prepare your pet It is very important to desex your pet before you rehome them. Pet overpopulation is an overwhelming problem and we all need to do what we can to prevent more unwanted animals from being born. Update the dog’s vaccinations and prepare a history of your pet. Include as much information as possible about his/her likes and dislikes, current food preferences, relationship to other animals, whether he/she likes to play with certain types of toys etc. All this information will help make the transition easier on the animal. Groom and bathe your pet so that he/she looks their best.
6. Take a good photo A picture speaks a thousand words. When you take a photograph, use a background that is in contrast to the animal in order to highlight his/her best features. Keep it simple and clear with few background distractions.
Use a person, a hand or some other means to show the scale of the pet. Take the time to get a calm relaxed photo that does not present the pet as aggressive or scared.
7. Advertise Place an advertisement in the your local newspaper and on Internet advertising boards such as:
Note: Do not advertise your dog as free to good home. Ask a small fee to discourage uncommitted and unscrupulous people from responding to your advertisement. You can always donate the money to your favourite charity if you feel uncomfortable about accepting money. Run the ad several times. You are looking to reach a wide audience.
8. Prepare a good flyer Describe the appearance, size and age of the animal. Describe his/her nature and appealing qualities. Include the pet’s name. State that the pet is desexed. Define any limitations, e.g. not good with cats/small children/ other dogs/other cats. Use a good photograph. Be sure to put in your phone number and time you can be reached.
9. Network Take your flyers everywhere:
To your veterinarian; To your work; To pet supply stores; To community bulletin boards; Show your family and friends.
10. Interview potential new owners When someone responds to your flyer or advertisement, you have an opportunity to interview them over the phone before introducing them to the animal. Ask questions about the person’s home environment to help you decide whether they can provide a suitable and loving permanent secure home. Make sure you transfer registration and/or microchip details when you transfer ownership of your pet.
11. Take the dog to a pound or shelter If advertising on your own doesn’t work, contact local pounds and shelters and seek their advice on the adoption prospects of your dog. Be aware that the RSPCA usually has a waiting list so make sure you enquire with plenty of advance notice. Do not kid yourself. There is the real possibility, often quite high, that not keeping your pet will result in the pet's death, either directly at a shelter, or in not finding a good enough permanent home.
12. Last resort Realistically, if your dog doesn’t stand much chance of being adopted, take responsibility for your pet and take him or her to your own vet for euthanasia. Stay with him or her to the end, as painful as that might be for you. It will be the last great gift of love you can give.
13. Never abandon your pet Whatever you do, do not turn your pet loose "in the street" or "out in the country". This is one of the cruellest fates any domestic pet could meet. The danger, fear, and suffering they will encounter is heartbreaking even if they manage to survive at all.
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How could you?
When I was a puppy I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh. You called me your child and despite a number of chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend. Whenever I was "bad," you'd shake your finger at me and ask "How could you?" - but then you'd relent and roll me over for a bellyrub.
My housetraining took a little longer than expected, because you were terribly busy, but we worked on that together. I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed, listening to your confidences and secret dreams, and I believed that life could not be any more perfect. We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I only got the cone because "ice cream is bad for dogs," you said), and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day.
Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more time searching for a human mate. I waited for you patiently, comforted you through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about bad decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell in love.
She, now your wife, is not a "dog person" - still I welcomed her into our home, tried to show her affection, and obeyed her. I was happy because you were happy. Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I was fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them, too. Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most of my time banished to another room, or to a dog crate. Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became a "prisoner of love."
As they began to grow, I became their friend. They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about them and their touch - because your touch was now so infrequent - and I would have defended them with my life if need be.
I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams. Together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway. There had been a time, when others asked you if you had a dog, that you produced a photo of me from your wallet and told them stories about me. These past few years, you just answered "yes" and changed the subject. I had gone from being "your dog" to "just a dog," and you resented every expenditure on my behalf.
Now you have a new career opportunity in another city, and you and they will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. You've made the right decision for your "family," but there was a time when I was your only family.
I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter. It smelled of dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness. You filled out the paperwork and said "I know you will find a good home for her." They shrugged and gave you a pained look. They understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog or cat, even one with "papers." You had to pry your son's fingers loose from my collar as he screamed "No, Daddy! Please don't let them take my dog!" And I worried for him, and what lessons you had just taught him about friendship and loyalty, about love and responsibility, and about respect for all life. You gave me a goodbye pat on the head, avoided my eyes, and politely refused to take my collar and leash with you. You had a deadline to meet and now I have one, too.
After you left, the two nice ladies said you probably knew about your upcoming move months ago and made no attempt to find me another good home. They shook their heads and asked "How could you?"
They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules allow. They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago. At first, whenever anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you - that you had changed your mind - that this was all a bad dream...or I hoped it would at least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me. When I realized I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of happy puppies, oblivious to their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited.
I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day and I padded along the aisle after her to a separate room. A blissfully quiet room. She placed me on the table, rubbed my ears and told me not to worry. My heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of days. As is my nature, I was more concerned about her. The burden which she bears weighs heavily on her and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood.
She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago. She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing through my body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes and murmured "How could you?"
Perhaps because she understood my dogspeak, she said "I'm so sorry." She hugged me and hurriedly explained it was her job to make sure I went to a better place, where I wouldn't be ignored or abused or abandoned, or have to fend for myself - a place of love and light so very different from this earthly place. With my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her with a thump of my tail that my "How could you?" was not meant for her. It was you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of. I will think of you and wait for you forever.
May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.