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Surrendering your pet: 5 factors to consider first

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Surrendering your pet can be an extremely difficult decision, but there are a few potential solutions worth exploring before you go down that route.

Since the return to work and increased cost of living, more pets are being surrendered to rescue organisations for rehoming. The rescue centres are full and overwhelmed particularly with pets adopted during the COVID period.

However, every situation is unique and everyone has their own set of reasons for giving up their furry friend.

If you end up finding yourself in a similar situation, it could be a good idea to first consider the alternatives before deciding to give up your pet for good.

1. Financial

If your issues are financial and the cost of feeding them is becoming difficult, reach out and ask for help. If your pet needs veterinary care or even just flea and worming treatments, reach out to Pets in the Park, which is run by a great team of veterinarians.

Every month, it holds a pop-up vet hospital (usually in a park) in major cities, where vets can give animals a health check and get them up to date with some of their preventative care at no cost. It occasionally runs surgery days for pets needing to be desexed and more.

2. Behavioural

Sometimes your pets' issues could be behavioural and you might not know how to fix them. For example, you might have a dog suffering from generalised anxiety or separation anxiety. In this instance, it's important to see your vet and/or a dog trainer that you click with and can be honest and open about where you're at.

They should also know a thing or 2 about behavioural issues and how to care for your pet.

There are a number of medications that can be prescribed to help you and your dog with issues such as anxiety that work really well.

Need pet insurance to get your furry friend the right care? Finder's pet insurance reviews could give you a head start.

A dog looking out a car window with the wind blowing its ears back

3. Housing

Research your rights if your issues are around housing. I've been there – it's hard finding rental properties that allow pets.

For example, in NSW owners are not allowed to unreasonably deny an application based on applicants having pets, but we all know that the reality is they just give the property to someone else and don't tell you. It's something I passionately get annoyed at.

4. Domestic violence

If you are in a domestic violence situation (emotional, financial or physical) and you know you have to leave, what to do with your pets?

People often find themselves in this situation. You're stressed and all you're trying to do is get through each day. But don't surrender your pet. Reach out to Lucy's Project, an incredible organisation in Australia that helps victims of domestic violence escape and hold onto their pets.

5. Biting

If your pet has a serious bite history and you aren't able to cope, there is the option of behavioural euthanasia.

It is a controversial topic but I know multiple clients that have a full-time job of managing their dogs with a serious bite history and it's hard work – and realistically not possible in the longer term.

These situations can break up marriages, families and leave people with serious mental health problems.

I think there is a common misconception that all aggressive pets are a result of the owner. It's simply not true. Many owners of these pets are lovely, some of them have never been abused and often are lovely 99%. It's the 1% chance of danger that makes the situation emotionally and psychologically difficult for the owner.

It can feel a lot easier to surrender the pet. However, a lot of the time they become someone else's problem and don't get the care they deserve. Often, the pets will cycle through homes, often having 4–5 homes by the time I see them.

Sometimes the best way to love them is to set them free. There are some excellent Facebook groups that can help you. For example, I love Losing Lulu on Facebook. It's a supportive environment where people discuss their own experiences of behavioural euthanasia.


Dr Kate Adams is the owner and head vet at Bondi Vet Hospital and has worked all over Australia, after graduating from Murdoch University in Perth. Dr Kate is passionate about pet nutrition, behaviour and preventative integrative health. She is also a speaker and TV host, featuring most recently on hit series Bondi Vet as well as Sunrise and the Today show. Follow her on Instagram @drkateadams.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article (which may be subject to change without notice) are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Finder and its employees. The information contained in this article is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice, investment advice, trading advice or any other advice or recommendation of any sort. Neither the author nor Finder has taken into account your personal circumstances. You should seek professional advice before making any further decisions based on this information.

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