I had just moved in with my husband, and my beloved dog just wasn’t adjusting. He was scared of living in a new place and extremely jealous of my new hubby. He began to act out aggressively. My husband’s not exactly a dog person, so it put added strain on us as we navigated living together for the first time.
I began to think about the idea of giving up my beloved pet.
Gus had been with me for 5 years (much longer, I might add, than my husband!). I felt incredibly guilty for even thinking about giving him up. He was so attached to me, I knew he wouldn’t thrive in shelter life.
I was searching online for information and resources, when I stumbled across an article about the guilt of rehoming a pet on NextGen. This article expressed everything that I had been feeling.
Sometimes, with a military lifestyle, you just can’t keep your pet, no matter how much you love them. You shouldn’t feel guilty about having to give them up, but taking your pet to the shelter should be one of the final options you consider.
If you’re at a loss for how to rehome your pet, consider these alternatives to dropping off your pet at the animal shelter.
4 Alternatives to Dropping Off Your Pet at the Animal Shelter When You Know You Can’t Keep Them
Prepare Your Pet for Adoption
Increase your pet’s chances of rehoming by making sure they’re ready for adoption. This means making sure they are spayed or neutered and all their shots are up to date.
My dog had behavioral issues, so when I was considering rehoming him, I hired a trainer to help work on his aggressive behavior, so that if we found a new home, he would be well-behaved.
Also make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to find your pet a new home. In military life, you don’t always get a lot of notice for big life changes, but if you know you’re PCSing to a new duty station in 6 months, don’t wait until the month of your move to start thinking about rehoming your pet.
Look for a New Home in Your Network
First look for a new home in your network. As a military spouse, you have a huge network of friends and family who may be willing to take in your pet and give them a loving home. You may be apprehensive about posting a “free to good home” notice on Facebook, because let’s face it: people can be super judgy.
If this is a concern, don’t let it stop you from trying to find your pet a good home. Your true friends will understand that rehoming your pet is not a decision you have made lightly.
And to the haters, you can choose not to respond or if you feel the need, politely ask that they refrain from commenting on your situation without knowing the facts.
Advertising that your pet is available for adoption doesn’t mean posting flyers all over town. The next time you take your pet to the pet store for his weekly bath, speak to the owners. They may know the perfect family looking for a new family pet.
Let your dog be friendly on walks with as many people as possible. The more people your pet interacts with, the more likely it is that he or she will charm a possible new owner who would be willing to adopt your pet.
Advertising that you’re interested in rehoming your pet by word of mouth will decrease the amount of public scrutiny and harsh words you might encounter from people who don’t understand your tough situation.
Foster Your Pet Until Adoption
While taking your pet to the shelter is hopefully your last option, you can contact your local shelter as a resource. If you have the ability to keep your pet in your home for a few months longer, the local shelter can put your pet on the website, advertising it for adoption, while your pet stays comfortably at home with you. When someone becomes interested in your pet, they’ll make an appointment to visit and interact with your pet.
Feel Good About Finding Your Pet a Better Option
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you may not be able to rehome your pet in the time frame you’ve allowed. If you absolutely must take your pet to the shelter, the most important thing to consider is whether the shelter you choose is a no-kill shelter. No-kill shelters make a promise to keep your pet at the shelter or find a foster home for them until they are adopted.
Whatever option you choose when deciding to rehome your pet, know that finding your pet a good home is a better option than keeping them in a less than ideal situation just so they can be with you.
As for my solution, I ultimately decided to keep my dog. We worked on his aggressive behavior, and when my husband came back from deployment, he was much better behaved. However, I know with our lifestyle, I may have to consider rehoming him in the future.
Ultimately, I know I want to do what’s best for my pet, so instead of feeling guilty about rehoming him if it comes to that in the future, I’m choosing to feel good about offering him a better life than I could provide.