Is relinquishment the only option? And what happens next?

If things aren’t working out with your pet, it’s a tough decision to take, but rehoming can often be for the best.

So, how do you go about finding a new home for your pet when you’re no longer able to care for them?

Let’s look at the options for rehoming, find out what to expect if you decide to follow this pathway and explore alternative courses of action…

Supporting owners so they can keep their pets

Sometimes, an owner may be finding it difficult to care for their pet at home because of their own health problems. There are charities that support owners who are struggling to care for their pet through ill health. Recognising how important the bond is between pet and owner, they can help with dog-walking, pet care and feeding; they can foster pets while owners are in hospital and they can also provide forever homes for pets when their owners are no longer with us.

If a pet’s behaviour is challenging…

When life with a pet isn’t turning out quite as expected because of behavioural or temperamental issues, many owners decide to rehome, but sometimes there may be an alternative: Consulting a qualified pet behaviour counsellor or trainer may be all that’s needed to help you to understand what’s going on and help to get you and your wayward companion back on the straight and narrow.

Employing a dog walker to help with exercising your dog can lower frustration, boredom and anxiety levels, so that you can start to enjoy that wonderful pet-owner bond again.

Returning a pet to the breeder

Often, your pet’s breeder will offer an ongoing service where they can advise and support you during life with your pet. They may be able to take them back if, for any reason, you can no longer keep them – this may have been part of the contract when you bought your pet. If not, it’s still worth contacting them to explain the situation. If they can’t take the pet back, they may be able to help you to find a new home for them.

Rehoming through word of mouth

You may be lucky enough to know someone who can give your pet a loving home and provide everything they need. It’s still vital that you ensure they are genuinely interested in the best outcome for the pet, so think about the sorts of questions you can ask about the potential new owner’s plans to care for the pet for the rest of his or her life.

It’s really important that the person offering a new home for the pet understands exactly what they’re taking on. Be honest about your reasons for needing to rehome your pet, or they may get handed on again.

Animal welfare organisations and charities

Some animal welfare organisations help to rehome different types of pet, from cats, to ponies, to rabbits. Others focus their expertise and resources on a particular type of pet.

Many pedigree breeds have independent organisations and charities who help to find pets new homes. Some offer a foster scheme while a permanent home is found.

When it comes to small furries, Support Adoption for Pets operate 450 small pet adoption centres inside Pets at Home stores nationwide. You don’t need to have bought your small pet from Pets at Home in order for them to be able to help out with finding the right ‘furever’ home.

What happens if I decide to approach a rehoming organisation?

When you’ve found an organisation you think could help, contact them and explain your situation as fully as possible. If they understand your pet and the reason they’re looking for a new home, they’re more likely to be able to find the right match.

While the pet is being taken care of, their health and behaviour will be assessed and, if necessary, attended to. Then, it’s time to think about the sort of forever home that might suit them.

How do rehoming centres find new homes for pets?

Some centres allow visitors to come along to find out about available pets. Others look at applications from prospective new families, select pets who they feel may be a good match and arrange a meeting, to see how they get on.

Organisations who take care of pets through fosterers will look at applications from prospective new homes and arrange meetings with the pet and their fosterer, who will often know the pet well in a home environment.

Most of the major charities offer ongoing support to new owners, to give the pet a great second chance.

A word about how not to rehome your pet

Just as it’s unwise to look for a new pet through internet pet-selling sites and small ads, it’s risky to try to sell or rehome your own pet this way.

You have no way of knowing who’s really buying your pet – it may not be the person who claims to be the buyer. You can’t check that they have the means to take proper care of them and you won’t know whether they’re going to pass on the pet to yet another home, no matter how genuine they seem.

It’s far safer to stick to the options where you know everyone involved has the pet’s welfare as top priority.

Want to learn more?

When things don’t work out

Even with the best of preparations, life can sometimes throw unexpected events at us, which can turn pet ownership into more of a challenge than it might have been.

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Where not to look for your next pet

If things aren’t working out with your pet, it’s a tough decision to take, but rehoming can often be for the best.

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