Is there any way to resolve the issue or situation without surrendering your pet? Does the pet have a behavioral or medical issue that may be treated or improved? Check out our pet training classes here, or find a veterinarian here.
Try re-homing your pet among friends or family members that you know well. Ask them to help spread the word among their social circles to find a new owner that you trust to care for your pet.
Carefully utilize social media. For example, Facebook groups can share images of pets in need of a new home.
Advertise with the intent to screen interested parties: Have they ever owned a pet before? Can they provide veterinary records for their previous/current pets? Does their resident pet get along with your pet? What kind of living situation do they have? How will your pet fit into their lifestyle?
There are specific services for people trying to re-home their pets. AllPaws.com and the Paws Like Me app for smartphones might be something else for you to look into.
Should all other options fall through, consider bringing your pet to the R-H SPCA as a last resort. See the FAQ below for more information.
Pet Surrender: Frequently Asked Questions
How long do you keep animals? We do not have a set period of time, as some shelters do. We keep animals as long as they are reasonably friendly, reasonably healthy, adjusting reasonably well to the shelter environment, and as long as we have space to keep them. Sometimes this means that your animal will be moved into the adoption program, transferred to a limited admission rescue group, or sometimes it means that your animal will be euthanized (humane death by injection) either immediately or at a later time during its stay at the shelter. Space considerations may vary at different times of the year – we generally have many more animals come in during the spring and summer than during the fall and winter. Unfortunately, like all shelters, we generally have far more animals losing their homes than we have people coming in to adopt them.
What is a pre-adoption behavioral assessment? We evaluate pets on a number of things – acceptance of strangers, activity level, sociability, tolerance in handling, food or toy possession, interactions with other animals or children, stress level, and past history as given to us by the owner and sometimes by a previous animal hospital. This begins the moment the animal comes through the door and interacts with the receptionist and animal care techs, and continues throughout the animal’s stay at the shelter.
What is “reasonably healthy”? Animals with minor health problems, such as colds, ear infections, and flea allergies can generally be treated in-house. We follow very extensive cleaning protocols every single day to reduce the spread of illness from one animal to another. We also house animals separately from one another to further reduce the risk. However, it is an environment with a large number of animals of unknown health history, which is a problem in shelters throughout the world. Occasionally, an animal’s immune system may become overwhelmed by the exposure to diseases from animals that come in unhealthy. We generally see this more in very young kittens or puppies, or in animals with weak immune systems due to little veterinary care prior to coming to the shelter. If an animal’s condition continues to get worse or if the virus is a deadly one, such as parvovirus in dogs, we may have to euthanize the animal.
Unfortunately, for more serious health problems, or those that would require extended care in a quiet environment, we are not always able to keep the animal. Sometimes the animal’s health needs are cost-prohibitive. We cannot invest a large sum of money in one animal, to the exclusion of others. Sometimes we simply cannot provide a quiet environment for the number of weeks or months it would take to make an animal healthy again, such as with heartworm treatment or hip replacement. As you may guess, an animal shelter is not a quiet place! Sometimes a disease is fatal or contagious to other animals, such as feline AIDS (FIV) or leukemia. Health problems falling somewhere in-between are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. What is “adjusting reasonably well”? Many animals accept this change in living environment very well, and remain friendly and happy. Some animals are fine for a while, but begin to deteriorate behaviorally over time. Some animals though, while fine with your family in your home, simply may not be able to adjust at all to the stress of a caged environment with many other animals nearby. Cats, especially those that are declawed, generally have a more difficult adjustment, so we try to give them a little longer to settle in if we can. The number of available cages, as well as the stress level of the particular animal, plays a part in how long an animal may be kept. We simply do not feel that it is humane to force an animal to live in a cage for an extended period of time if it is not eating, drinking, or sleeping well due to a very high stress level.
Do you euthanize animals if you cannot find a home for them? There are far more animals that lose their homes than we are able to place into new ones. Instead of warehousing pets in unsafe conditions due to overcrowding, we believe it's more humane to euthanize them if there is no hope of adoption. Also, some animals are not considered adoptable, and we try to help owners see this realistically. For example, someone coming in for a cat is not going to look past the 20 cats who use the litter box to choose the one who will probably urinate all over their house. Untouchable cats are likewise going to be overlooked in favor of friendly, cuddly ones. Someone coming in for a dog is not going to look past the 20 friendly ones to choose the one they will always worry may bite someone. They are not going to choose the one we know will need the $1000+ hip surgery before long. We have to weigh all these things against the number of cages we have available to house all the animals brought to us.
Are all surrendered animals put up for adoption? In choosing to leave your animal with us, you are choosing to allow us to make that determination for your animal. What someone might choose to work with, or around, in an animal they have had for a while and are attached to is quite different from what most adopters are willing to take on in a brand new animal, when there are so many others to choose from. Our experience has been that by and large, most people are looking for an animal that is as close to perfect as they can get in terms of health and behavior. Many people have busy lives, and while possibly willing to work on housebreaking or obedience training, they don’t want to or are not realistically able to do a whole lot more. Most of the animals put into the adoption program fit those criteria, so that we have the greatest chance for quick placement and successful adoptions, helping as many animals as possible.
Can I come back and get my animal if you are going to euthanize it? In leaving your animal with us, you have made the determination that you are unable or unwilling to care for the animal any longer, and you are entrusting us to make the decisions regarding your animal from now on. We do the best we can for each animal released to us, taking into consideration the sheer volume of animals we receive. Severing this bond with your pet was probably a difficult decision for you, one that you thought long and hard about beforehand. You have likely looked into all the available options before bringing your animal to us. In most cases, the situation leading you to bring the animal to us will not have significantly changed, and since that situation was enough to make you choose to give up your pet, it was probably the right decision. Please contact the shelter at (540) 434-5270 for more information.
Can I call and find out if my animal was placed? Yes. We will give information on the current status of the animal to the person surrendering the animal. To preserve the privacy of all parties, we will not discuss animals surrendered to the shelter with anyone other than the person who surrendered him/her.
If you would like to find out if your animal is placed, you can call us with your information and we will tell you if the animal was placed, returned to its owner (for stray animals), or euthanized. In surrendering your animal to us you signed a statement releasing all rights to that animal, and we do not discuss further details on the home the animal was adopted or returned to, and we are not obligated to discuss the reasons for euthanasia. The decision to euthanize an animal is extremely stressful on the staff that must make those decisions, and it weighs heavily on us each and every time. We have policies in place to ensure that we serve each animal as best we can, even if that sometimes means making the decision to euthanize an animal. We think that you deserve to know what happened to your animal if you wish, but we will not ask our staff to discuss or justify the reasons behind our decisions. Some people prefer to just think that their animal has been placed; others want to know for sure. Hopefully, we would be able to give you the good news you want, but we may not be able to, so please keep that in mind when making the decision to call.
Filling out a personality profile for your pet will help us best place your pet. Please take some time and let us know what they're used to in terms of food, grooming, and what veterinary care they have had.