Marc Peralta, the Senior Director of National Mission Advancement at Best Friends Animal Society, provides advice on how to navigate this difficult situation
Surrendering a pet is a difficult decision made more trying by the stigma that often surrounds this choice.
PEOPLE spoke to Marc Peralta, the Senior Director of National Mission Advancement at Best Friends Animal Society, about the best way to navigate this difficult situation.
With years of experience in shelters across the country, Peralta understands that having to surrender a pet is a heart-wrenching reality that can happen to any pet owner.
“If you adopt a pet, sometimes things just aren’t matches,” Peralta told PEOPLE. “We see it in our relationships as human beings, not all of us are married to the first partner that we had because it wasn’t a good fit. It doesn’t make you a bad person or a good person, it just is what it is.”
The shelter environment can complicate matters. While most animal rescues and shelters are caring places full or kind people, they are also often “loud and stressful environment” for pets
“Pets don’t always act how they are going to act in a home environment,” Peralta said. This can lead to issues when a pet comes home with their new family.
If you find yourself in the situation where you are thinking of surrendering your pet because they aren’t the right fit, Peralta has this advice to offer.
Explore the Resources Available to You Before You Choose to Surrender
Peralta says that most city rescues and shelters in your community are judgement-free and full of resources for pet owners that may be having issues keeping their pet.
Check with rescues and shelters in your area for advice on how to handle and resolve problematic pet situations. Many of these facilities should be able to provide information and recommendations on behavior training, medical care options, fighting landlord issues and more.
Best Friends Animal Society, a nationwide animal rescue and advocacy organization, also has resources on their website that can help you with the same issues if you can’t find any assistance locally.
Mine Your Network of Animal Lovers for Potential Homes
If you try working through the issue that is preventing your pet from meshing with your family and have no luck resolving the issue, Peralta told PEOPLE it is best to try to re-home the pet yourself before bringing them to a shelter.
“Pets have a much better opportunity if their owner can find a way to find them a home. The owners have lived with them, and often know them much more intimately, and will be better at finding a good match,” he said.
Talk to the friends and family that might be looking to adopt a pet or know someone who is. If you can’t find a match among your personal contacts, try reaching out to your veterinarian, pet daycare, dog walker, local social media pages and rehoming websites for help finding the perfect forever home for your pet.
“When you can adopt them from a home to a home, you are ahead of the curve,” Peralta said. Rehoming your pet to a trusted contact prevents your pet from re-entering the stressful shelter system and often leaves the pet’s former owner feeling more at peace with their decision.
Have a Real Conversation with Potential Adopters
Re-homing your pet yourself has perks for both the pet and former pet parent, but only if it is done responsibly.
Peralta says it is important to fully understand why you are re-homing your pet before you start the search for a new owner; this way you are able to express the reasons the pet was not the right fit for you to the new owner, ensuring that this will not be an issue going forward.
“Do your due diligence,” Peralta advises. This means meeting potential adopters in real life to ensure they would be a good fit for your pet, asking them questions, introducing them to your pet and setting expectations.
Check in with the Shelter or Rescue that Adopted Out Your Pet
Along with being able to provide resources for rehoming your pet, the shelter or rescue you originally adopted your pet from may be willing to take your pet back. It is best to check if the shelter if at capacity before asking them to take your pet back. Many shelters say in their pet adoption contracts that they will take a pet back for any reason, but be aware that giving your pet back to their original shelter may put a strain on their facility.
Research the Shelters in Your Area Before Surrendering Your Pet to Them
There are plenty of shelters who are dedicated to helping owners with resources, and guiding pet parents through the surrender process, but not all have the same dedication for finding animals homes.
“You don’t want to consider every shelter as a bad place, because they are not. Any good shelter should be able to provide you with resources to help you keep your pet or re-home your pet,” Peralta said.
If a shelter you talk to about rehoming your pet doesn’t ask questions about why your are surrendering your pet and doesn’t provide resources to help you keep you pet, this should be a red flag that they don’t have your pet’s best interest at heart.
“That’s a good indicator of how much you shelter is doing in the community,” Perlata noted.
If you find yourself in this situation, it is best to contact another shelter about surrendering your pet.