RE-Homing: Avoiding shelter surrender


One of the more proactive programs you can develop to help reduce shelter surrender is to start a re-homing program within your organization.  The idea of re-homing programs is to support the current owner in finding an appropriate new owner for their pet.

An effective Re-homing program starts with identifying the reasons the current owner needs to re-home their animal and providing them alternative resources that they may not have been aware of.  Owners seek new homes for their pets for a variety of reasons including their own life situation (divorce, death, housing changes), behavioral problems with the animal (scratching, chewing, hyperactivity), and a variety of other reasons like financial hardship or change in family dynamics.

Your organization can be the catalyst to helping an owner get the necessary resources simply by creating a section on your website dedicated to rehoming, and providing your staff and volunteers with the resources to provide to pet owners looking to surrender their animals.


Resources to make available:

  • Pet Food assistance – Not being able to afford food for your pet can be embarrassing.  Proactively providing information on local pet food banks and options can help prevent the need to re-home.

  • Behavioral assistance – Whether the animal was adopted from your organization or not, behavioral problems can often be remedied through training programs either provided by your organization or another one.  What options exist in your community to help with specific problems?  What organizations can you recommend to help them get the problems resolved?

  • Pet friendly housing options – Often owners need to surrender pets due to changes in policies at their apartment, retirement home or other housing facility.  Pet friendly housing is a trend these days.  From apartment buildings to hotels that cater to pets, what options are there in your community that the owner could consider?

  • Low cost spay/neuter options – Behavior problems are often caused by the pet not being properly spayed or neutered.  Often this is due to cost being an obstacle.  Providing links to resources to assist with low cost or free spay/neuter might help prevent an owner surrender or at least prepare the animal for re-homing.


rehomeEstablishing a RE-homing program at your organization

Starting a Re-homing program is simpler than it might seem.  You already have the resources, processes and technology in place and with some small tweaks adding Re-homing as an alternative can enhance your organization’s image and relationship with your community.


Steps to take:

  1. Create a prominent grabber on your website – On your organization home page, put a button, section, banner or image to standout and call attention to it.  “Need to re-home your pet? We can help!” that directs them to a specific page of your resources.

  2. Consider them like a foster – What’s the difference between someone looking to re-home their pet and a foster anyway?  When you reframe the situation and look at it from another perspective, the process seems simpler.

  3. Provide them foster-like resources – You feature your foster pets on your organization’s website, so why not feature pets needing re-homing the same way?  You already have the technology, photography equipment and staff/volunteers that maintain these resources so what’s so hard with adding a few more pictures and profiles to the process?

  4. Build a relationship to last – How you treat someone looking to re-home says a lot about your organization.  If you develop a relationship they could become a long-term supporter of your organization.


Additional resources for reference:

  • Best Friends – A leader in animal rescue and welfare, the Best Friends Animal Society has some good resources and step-by-step for what needs to happen for re-homing.  Check it out on their site: Re-homing

  • Rehoming websites – There are a couple of re-homing websites out there like and that provide a platform and resources for the general public.

  • PetFinder – Surprisingly, one of the most comprehensive resources with questions to ask and steps to take is PetFinder.  They have a site with some step-by-step questions for re-homers.  Here’s a link to their page: Petfinder