Do you feel you need to surrender your pet?

This decision should not be taken lightly. While volunteers and staff at shelters do what they can to find animals housed in their new homes, not all are adopted or rescued. Since the shelter only accommodates so many animals, know that surrendering your pet could yield a very grave outcome for the animal. Before surrendering your dog or cat to the shelter, please consider the following.

Why do you want to surrender your animal?

Is it a behavioral problem? Is your animal being destructive? Many behavioral issues are not as major as they seem and can be eliminated with a little work and proper training.

If your animal is acting aggressively it could be because your pet is not spayed or neutered. There are many health and behavioral benefits to altering your pets and showing less aggression is one of them! If you feel that spaying/neutering is too expensive, think again! Kansas City has some wonderful low-cost spay/neuter options available, such as the vet clinic at KCMO Animal Shelter, Spay & Neuter KC, and the Greater Kansas City Humane Society.

Even if your animal HAS been “fixed,” your pet may still exhibit behavioral issues. Please realize that animals (especially dogs) look to their owners for direction. Just like children, they need the training to learn right from wrong. Before making a decision, PLEASE consider training for your pet! This can be done with the help of a professional trainer, or on your own. There are many helpful books that outline basic training methods, and there is A LOT of information on the web. If you decide to enlist the help of a professional, it may be done one-on-one or in a group setting with other dogs and their owners. By talking with other dog owners, you will learn that many of the “issues” you are having are quite common and can easily be corrected if you are consistent and committed to methods of positive reinforcement and conditioning.

You might also try taking your pet to the vet! Sometimes behavioral issues are due to your pet not feeling well. Just like humans who get grumpy when they don’t feel well, illness could be the reason your pet is acting out or having accidents.

It is never fun after a long day of work to see your living room in a completely different state than how you left it. If your dog is more “active” than you would like when you are away, keep in mind that a bored dog is often a destructive dog. Here are a few tips:

Make sure your pet is getting enough exercise! We suggest walking, jogging, or playing with your dog every morning, midday (if possible), and evening.

Ensure your pet is mentally stimulated. It’s good to practice commands with your pet each day. Just as a class in school takes mental energy from a child, so does the schooling you conduct for your pet. Practice SIT, STAY, COME, FETCH, LEAVE IT, DOWN, UP, etc. with your dog for 10 minutes or so. This, alone, will wear them out to a certain degree.

Use common sense when it comes to your animal’s toys. If you allow your dog to play with rope toys with fringe on the end, be prepared to have a ripped-up rug … since they look a lot alike to a dog. If you allow your animal rawhides, those are pretty similar to furniture made of leather. Stuffed animals and pillows are two in the same to a dog too! Rubber toys are good bets since they resemble fewer items in the household.

If you are away from home for more than five hours during the day, a reputable dog walker or doggy daycare may be the answer. There are many doggy daycare establishments in the Metro, some of which are set up for group play, and others who use one-on-one methods for pups who aren’t quite so fond of other canine friends. These are fairly inexpensive – typically around $15 to $20 per day. However, dog day care is NOT for every dog! Some dogs love the environment, but some may develop issues from daycare. Be sure to speak with the facility beforehand and be able to discuss any problems that your dog already displays.

If you feel you need to surrender your pet for a reason other than the animal’s behavior, such as financial hardships, moving, or a new baby, consider the following:

The sheltering system has seen an increase in owner-relinquished pets in this poor economy. If lack of money is your challenge, note that Northland Pet Pantry helps supply dog and cat food to those who are having financial problems. Great Plains SPCA, Spay & Neuter KC, Jade’s Mission, and Chain of Hope all have outreach programs for owners needing help with food and pet supplies. Great Plains SPCA, SNKC, The Greater Kansas City Humane Society, and the vet clinic at the KCMO Animal Shelter (KC Pet Project) also offer low-cost vaccinations and vetting services. Please take advantage of this help if you need it. We know several homeless pet owners and, for them, where there’s a will, there’s a way to feed their pets!

Need to move?

Your pet wants to come with you! There are many pet-friendly rental communities, for all types of animals. It may take a little research and having pets can limit your choices, but it is worth it to keep your animal in your home where they belong. If you have an American Pit Bull Terrier or another “bully breed” dog, research Breed Specific Legislation laws. Many cities and counties in the United States have BSL. This is “dangerous dog ordinance” concentrates solely on what your dog looks like, not its behavior. If you love your pitty, do not move to a city with BSL!!! For more information on BSL, see

Are you getting rid of your pet because you are expecting?

You can have a baby and keep your pet! You just need to educate yourself on how to handle the transition so it goes smoothly for all. There are great resources for expecting parents who are pet owners. Check out for info on preparing your home for babies and pets to exist happily together. Dogs & Storks also has representatives in Kansas and Missouri who can give you more personal, one-on-one, attention if needed.

If these scenarios do not apply to you, or you have tried everything in your power and still feel that you have no choice but to surrender your animal, please avoid taking the animal to a municipal shelter, which is often otherwise known as a “high-intake, high-kill” facility. Instead, try to find your pet a new home on your own! After all, who knows your pet better than you do? Contact local no-kill shelters and see if they will allow you the courtesy to post your animal on their Petfinder listings. If someone expresses interest in your pet, make sure to screen him/her properly, so you know the person would be a loving, compassionate, and responsible owner. Always charge a small re-homing fee for your pet also. Giving away animals for free is not a good idea, because many “free pets” are picked up by people who sell them to research labs, or use them in dogfighting rings.

Contact no-kill shelters. You may need to be put on a waiting list and your pet may have to pass a temperament evaluation to be admitted. Give the shelter as much info as possible about your animal including vet records, likes and dislikes, food choices, any training, housebroken or not, favorite dogs, dog/cat/kid-friendly, etc. The more information you can provide, the easier it is to find your animal an appropriate adopter.

If your animal is pure-bred, contact local breed-specific rescue groups, to see if they have room in their program(s). If you have a mixed breed, contact non-specific breed rescues for help.

We appreciate you doing everything you can to uphold the commitment you made to care for and love your pet as one of the family. We hope that you are able to keep your friend for both your sake and theirs, but if not, please explore only the healthiest options so that your dog or cat can enjoy the longest and happiest life possible!



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