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Where Can I Surrender My Dog For Free? What Are Other Options?

Nobody gets a dog with the intent to give it away, but circumstances sometimes require that this be done. We look at how to surrender a dog or rehome it in other ways.

Sometimes, as heartbreaking as it is, you’ll need to surrender your dog. Doing that doesn’t make you a bad owner. Often, it’s the best option for the pooch as well, given the circumstances. However, it’s not always obvious what the best way to surrender a dog is. You may be asking yourself, “Where can I surrender my dog for free?” 

Let’s look at the different options you have when you can no longer take care of your pet. We’ll discuss the decision to surrender your dog, explain the process and any costs involved, and provide various options for how to give up your dog. 

Is It Time to Surrender Your Dog? 

There are many reasons why you may need to surrender your pup. Sometimes, you just don’t have the resources to care for it properly. Caring for a dog requires a great deal of time and money. Canines need companionship; you can’t just leave them alone. If you just got a new job or position and need to work more, surrendering your dog might be better for them. 

It’s also expensive to own a puppy. Dog food, vet visits, dog toys, and more can all eat into your budget. If you find it difficult to come up with the necessary funds, it’s better to surrender the pup to someone who can provide what they need. 

At other times, your pet may exhibit unnatural behavior, such as barking too loudly, destroying the house, or being aggressive to others. If you don’t have the time or know-how to properly train them, you can surrender them. 

Finally, life changes often force people to give up their pets. Whether you just introduced a new baby to the family or are moving to a new apartment and your new landlord doesn’t allow pets, keeping your dog can be problematic. 

While it is important to make the decision to surrender your dog for the right reasons, it is also important that you properly deal with any guilt you might feel for doing so.

How to Surrender Your Dog

Usually, the best way to surrender your dog is to find an animal shelter near you that will take them in. Animal rescue organizations are usually non-profit, but that doesn’t mean it will be entirely free. 

Many animal organizations charge a small fee to cover the cost of taking in and caring for your dog until they find a new owner. There are also some that charge a fee, but they won’t turn away your dog if you can’t pay it. 

In this section, we’ll explore various options available to you when surrendering your dog. We’ll go over the process involved and help you understand what you need to do, where you need to go, and what it will cost. 

dog waiting to be rehomed

How to Find a Shelter Near You

Google is your friend when searching for a shelter. You’ll want to search among the lines of “animal shelter in [CITY NAME]” or “surrender a dog [CITY NAME].” Another good option is searching for a “humane society” near you. Facebook and Instagram are also good search engines; many rescue organizations manage public pages. 

You may also check your local government pages, as they may have information that will be useful to you. For example, if you live in San Antonio, the government has a helpful page explaining your options. 

These directories may be of assistance as well: 

Select your state to find one in your area. 

Can I Just Drop My Dog Off at a Shelter? 

Usually, the answer to that is no. Most shelters require you to call or email them to make an appointment. Depending on the shelter, you may also be able to contact them on social media, text them, or send them a message on WhatsApp. 

The reason for that is simple. The shelter needs to be prepared for your dog and make sure it can take them in. If you just show up, they’ll be entirely unprepared and won’t be able to give them the care they need. 

Nevertheless, if you need to surrender your pooch ASAP, shelters can often speed up the wait time and get you an appointment a lot quicker. 

The Average Cost To Surrender A Dog 

Generally, the fee to surrender a dog is between $50-150. While that may sound expensive, keep in mind that it can cost well over $1,000 for a rescue organization to care for your dog. The fee is a small amount that helps the shelter run smoothly. 

What If I Can’t Pay? 

Some shelters will not refuse your dog just because you can’t pay the fee. They don’t want your dog to be on the streets, either. However, if you can afford it, you should certainly pay for it; it will help keep your puppy safe and cared for. Nonetheless, if you just don’t have the money, and you can’t find any shelter that takes dogs in for free, call some shelters and explain your situation. 

Furthermore, you are not limited to surrendering your dog to a shelter. Scroll down to read more options available to you, such as Adopt-A-Pet and other rehoming options. Those choices are entirely free (Adopt-A-Pet charges adopters a fee, not you). 

What Is the Process for Surrendering a Dog? 

Usually, the process is pretty simple. Most likely, you’ll have to download and fill out a surrender form. Then, you’ll need to set up an appointment — often, it can take a few days or weeks to get an appointment (with exceptions for emergencies). 

Then, you need to show up with your pet and surrender them. You may need to bring your ID and pay any applicable fees. If you have multiple dogs, you might have to make separate appointments for each one, depending on the shelter. 

It is also a good idea to document your dog’s basic needs and any special circumstances such as dog food brand and feeding schedule (including amount they eat), any medications they are on or may need, and any behavioral issues, especially if they pose a risk to others.

The more they know about your dog, the better equipped they will be to place your dog in an appropriate home as well as minimize the stress on the dog by avoiding changes in their care and routine as much as possible.

dog being surrendered

What Is a No-Kill Shelter? 

A no-kill shelter does not euthanize dogs unless there is a pressing need to do so (the dog is terminally ill and untreatable, is a danger to others and cannot be trained, etc.). Even if the shelter is full and cannot find an owner right away, they will make sure to treat and care for the dog. 

The truth is that no-kill doesn’t mean 100% no-kill. To meet the no-kill standard, shelters need to maintain a non-euthanasia rate of 90% or up. That means they can euthanize 10% of dogs and still be a no-kill shelter. However, they must only do so when necessary, as explained above. 

Many private rescue organizations are no-kill. On the other hand, public, government-run shelters are not always no-kill. They may put down your dog if they can’t find a new place for them soon enough. 

Surrendering a Dog for Euthanasia

If you wish, some shelters will give you the option of surrendering your dog for euthanasia instead of adoption. However, that may come with an extra fee. 

Of course, this should only be done in the case of a dog that is terminally ill or poses a serious risk to humans or other animals.

There are costs associated with dog euthanasia as well as disposal of the dog’s body.

Can I Surrender My Dog at PetSmart? 

No, PetSmart does not take in dogs. You may be able to adopt a dog from PetSmart, but those dogs are coming from partnered shelters and rescue organizations, not directly from the public. 

dog being surrendered

Beyond Animal Shelters — Other Options for Surrendering Your Dog

Surrendering your dog to an animal shelter isn’t the only possibility. Other options are free and may provide your dog with a better life. 

Surrendering Vs. Rehoming Your Dog

Instead of surrendering your dog to a shelter, consider rehoming them. You can either rehome them yourself or use an adoption organization that connects pet owners with adopters who’d like to take in a new dog. 

Let’s go through several options available. 

Give Them to Friends or Family

One of the best options is handing your dog over to a friend or family member. Here’s why it’s the superior choice: 

  • You can select someone you trust, someone you know will give your pup the proper care they need. 
  • You won’t have to worry about them putting down your dog. 
  • It is free (as long as you can find a friend or relative who can afford to care for a dog). 
  • The dog may already be acquainted with your friend or relative. The transition will be a lot easier for them, and they won’t have to deal with as much anxiety. Switching homes and being separated from their owner is hard for dogs. 
  • You may still be able to see, visit, and play with your dog. 

Of course, you can’t just dump your dog on any friend. You need to have an honest discussion with them to ensure they are truly willing and capable of taking your dog under their roof. 

dog gazes out rear window of car

Use Rehome from Adopt-A-Pet

Rehome is a website run by Adopt-A-Pet that connects pet owners who can’t take care of their pets anymore with potential adopters. While you might not know the adopter like you would a friend or family member, Adopt-A-Pet allows you to review applications and meet with potential candidates. 

First, you set up a pet profile for your dog. That way, people who want to adopt a pet can find your dog and see whether they would wish to take them in. Then, they contact you. You get a chance to review applications and set up a meeting in one of the Adopt-A-Pet safe zones. 

Everyone wins here. You won’t have to pay anything — only adopters pay a small fee. They get a wonderful pet, and you get to stay secure in the knowledge that your dog found a new home with a loving, caring family. 

You’re the one who gets to set the fee. Yes, you decide how much the adopter pays you. Instead of losing money, you earn. 

Why is that even necessary? Isn’t the adopter doing you a service? Why are you “selling” your pet? 

You’re not “selling” your pet for hundreds of dollars; you’re charging a small fee, such as $50 or $100, to help ensure you only meet with qualified candidates. 

You want to know you are giving your dog to someone truly interested in caring for them and who has the money to do so. Some people will take in dogs just because it’s free, even if they don’t have the money, time, and resources to properly care for them. You want to avoid those people and only talk with serious candidates from the get-go. 

Unless it’s a friend or family member you know well, you should never give away your dog to a stranger for free. People don’t generally value what they get for free. 

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, we cleared up common misconceptions about surrendering your dog and opened your eyes up to additional options available. Whether you decide to surrender them to a shelter, give them to a family member, or use Adopt-A-Pet, you can be confident knowing that you made the right choice for your situation. 

Superb Dog Editor

Superb Dog Editor