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Relinquishing Your Pet (Part II)


     As Thanksgiving leftovers fill the fridge and our inboxes flood with requests to save dogs before the Holiday Season, the SDPP Staff is reminded just how much our Pit Bulls need us this time of year. Hopefully you’ve already read Part I “Relinquishing Your Pit Bull” and already know that we do not have the resources to take in your dog... but the next best option is to give you some tools and helpful hints that may help ease the pain of giving up your dog...

     Although we do not condone giving up your pets because dogs are LIFETIME COMMITMENTS, there are circumstances that cannot be avoided - when relinquishing your pet may be their best chance at a decent life. When this happens, please consider this:

“Learn to help yourself first. Do not expect someone else to pick
up the pieces and save your dog. The Fairy-tale rarely happens.”

     1. Rescue Organizations can be an abundance of information - take the time and get to know local rescue groups who take in your specific breed of dog (or seek out a non-breed specific group). Keep in mind MOST (if not all) rescue groups rely 100% on foster families to keep dogs during their transition phase to a forever home and therefore do not have the space to take in your dog, so do not get upset or angry when a rescue turns you down. When a rescue groups says they don’t have room for your dog, believe it. IT’S THE HONEST TRUTH. Rescue groups are here to help those in need, but rarely do they have room for “Owner Relinquishments”. Imagine that a rescue group receives on average 50 or more relinquishment requests a month, that’s 600 dogs in one year that need new homes. Not every rescue group may get this high volume of requests, some get less, and some get significantly more. But either way, do your homework and learn which organizations are in your area and ask them as a first line of defense.

     2. Local Humane Societies and the ASPCA. Maybe you’re lucky enough to live close to a Humane Society or ASPCA facility. If so they have plenty of resources for you to look through. If you live in San Diego then you may already know that the San Diego Humane Society has 3 campuses: San Diego, Escondido, and Oceanside. SDHS believes in many cases there are Alternatives & Resources available to help, feel free to call SDHS at (619) 299-7012 to discuss your situation. But when all else fails and you have no other options, SDHS is available to help walk you through the process:

  • Download the “Re-Homing” Tool Kit, full of resources to help you find a new home for your pet.

  • Don’t rush! Take time to find your furry friend the best new home.

  • Increase your pet’s adoptability by having them spayed or neutered, groomed, and UTD on vaccinations.

  • Tell your friends, family, and coworkers. The more people that know you need help, the better chances you’ll have.

  • Advertise in the local newspaper or online, but BE CAUTIOUS when considering unknown individuals or families. Share your expectations for your pet’s new home and be sure to ask questions to identify a home that will be a good fit for your pet. No one knows your pet better than you do!

  • Never abandon your pet!!! The SDHS will work with you to find options.

     3. Department of Animal Services (DAS) is here to help. We know, we know, how could we dare think of going to the dreaded “pound” right? Unfortunately DAS gets an undeserved bad rap, and no your dog will NOT be put to sleep the moment you drop him off. DAS works together with the SDHS toward San Diego’s “Getting To Zero” Initiative, a program aiming toward ZERO animals being PTS due to lack of space. Rest assured the thankless employees of DAS are doing everything they can to help your pet find a forever home, and in the meantime taking care of their basic needs and wants.

     But this does not mean we expect you to rush to the shelter and drop off your pet now! Consider contacting your closest shelter and asking about their policies before giving up your pet. Keep in mind,you are giving up the legal rights to this animal and transferring legal ownership and responsibility to the shelter system. If you can’t bear the thought of your beloved pet in an outdoor dog run surrounded by cement walls and metal bars, consider keeping your dog until a more suitable & permanent environment can be found. Not all dogs can thrive in a kennel environment, and that’s definitely something to consider as well. As much as we’d love for all shelters to have enough funds for lavish silk sheets and cushy beds for every homeless dog, the County does not have financial resources to spoil homeless dogs. It’s not a pretty picture, but something to think about.

     4. Friends and Family. If you’re generally an independent person who relies only on yourself, now is not the time for grooming your ego. Instead put on a brave face and let your family and friends know that you need help. Maybe a friend can take your dog temporarily while you get back on your feet. Maybe a neighbor has enough space to foster your dog while you look for their new forever home. We consider our dogs family, and as such, hope your human family members would be willing to help in your time of need too. Reach out to people you know and ask if they would be a FOSTER FAMILY while you look for a rescue group to take in your dog - remember, these organizations rely on foster families to take in new dogs, therefore if you have a Foster Home already lined up, that’s half the battle!

     5. Training, financial hardship, rental homes and more. If the main reason you need to give up your dog falls under one of these categories then don’t fret!

“Don’t let a temporary problem define a permanent solution.
Your pet is a lifetime commitment, please honor that.”


     There are resources available to help - basic obedience training, behavioral classes, private trainers, and behaviorists are all equipped to help you with your training needs, but it’s up to you to spend the time, money, and effort to get your dog trained. If you’re considering a new home for your dog because they aren’t house trained, or chewed up your new couch, ask yourself what YOU COULD DO DIFFERENTLY. You may be surprised that training is often the easiest solution to a behavioral problem and it’s your responsibility to tackle that training head-on and keep up with it always (repetition is key!)

     Maybe you’ve lost your job, or a large unexpected expense is keeping you from keeping your dog - consider the LONGTERM effects of rehoming your dog due to this TEMPORARY PROBLEM. It may not be ideal, but start asking friends and family if they’d be willing to help you out in a tight spot. Maybe you need to get back on your feet, or find a more reasonable place to rent, or find a new job (or second, or third) there’s always a way to make it work as long as you persevere.

     If your excuse is “I can’t find a rental home that will allow my dog” then you really need to read our other article “Renting with Your Pit Bull” now!

     6. ABOVE ALL ELSE, BE HONEST. Whether you’ve found a rescue group willing to take on your dog, you’re planning to relinquish your dog to the local shelter, or you’ve found a new forever home, honesty is always the best policy. If your dog isn’t quite house-trained, then say so. Separation anxiety, destructive behavior, lack of leash manners, etc. can all seem like a deterrent to finding a new home - but then you need to ask yourself why haven’t you fixed these issues by now? If you aren’t willing to put in the time and effort to help your dog become the best example of a loving pet, then how can you expect someone else to do the work for you? It’s always better to be up front and honest. Not friendly with cats? Don’t push your dog onto your grandmother with felines of her own. Not kid-friendly or plays too rough? Don’t consider a family with young kids. Dog-reactive or exhibits aggressive behavior? That’s where training and socialization come in handy. If you haven’t already set up your dog for success by helping him become a well-rounded member of society, then don’t imagine a Fairytale ending for your pet if you aren’t able to provide it yourself.

     Lastly, don’t wait until the last minute. If you know the inevitable is coming and you need a new home for your dog then start looking NOW. So many times we hear the same sad story: “I only have 2 days to find Spot a new home or else he goes to the pound”. But why? When did you first know about this lifestyle change? We shouldn’t have to spell it out, but just in case you missed it: More time = more options. Don’t wait until the last minute to dump your furry family member with someone else. If you can’t take the time to set up your dog for success, it’s safe to say you don’t deserve a dog.

When your dog’s life is at stake, don’t rule out any options. We may not rescue dogs, but we’re here to rescue humans. Email us at for more answers.

SDPP Staff

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