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If You Surrender a Dog, Can You Adopt Again? All You Need To Know

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

dog staring its male owner

Surrendering your best friend is hard enough without worrying that shelters may never trust you again. Luckily, most adoption centers no longer consider that a ground for denying future adoptions. So, yes, if you surrender a dog, you can adopt again.

Nevertheless, the idea that someone could surrender a pet still makes some people’s blood boil. And it can be easy to blame yourself. Some people will indeed surrender their pets when they don’t have to and for the most selfish reasons. However, many who give up their pets often have no choice and do it for genuine reasons.

We highlight some of these reasons below. We also include tips on surrendering your pup responsibly and suggest viable shelter alternatives.

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Why You May Need to Surrender Your Dog

Surrendering your pup can rip you apart inside. You can try holding on until the last moment, but sometimes parting ways is best for your dog.

There are lame reasons for giving up your pet, like “the dog chewed on my curtains.” But there are unavoidable situations that leave you with no choice. They include the following:

1. Undesirable Behavior

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) 1, behavioral issues are one of the top reasons people relinquish their pets. Aggression and destructive behavior are the most common culprits.

Aggressive dogs can be a physical threat to you and your family. If it bites a stranger, you could find yourself facing a lawsuit.

Parting ways is always heartbreaking, no matter the reason. But it is better to say goodbye than for someone to get hurt.

aggressive german sheperd dog
Image Credit: Vitalii Mikhailiuk, Shutterstock

2. Allergies

What do you do if the latest addition to your family is allergic to dogs? Sad as it may be, you’ll have to choose the baby over your pup.

You could try working around the problem. But finally, you’ll have to admit it is no longer possible to live in the same house with your furry friend.

Dander is the most common allergen dogs produce. It can trigger allergies and aggravate asthma.

However, other things in your home could also trigger similar symptoms. So, we advise performing tests to ascertain whether the dog is the cause.

3. Living Situation

Circumstances can change drastically. Unavoidable situations could render you homeless and unable to support your dog. They include fire razing down your home, the loss of a job, or foreclosure.

You can try moving in with a friend or family member. But bringing your dog may not be possible since not all houses allow pets. Circumstances don’t have to be as life-shattering. Even financial constraints can make it challenging for your budget to support you and your pup.

Parting ways with your best friend is sad. But if you can no longer provide shelter, you must put its well-being above your needs.

a dog sitting on the floor nearby legs of its owners
Image Credit: Yuliia Lisiana, Shutterstock

4. Dog’s Health

Most dog owners can afford to pay for their pet’s veterinary fees. But some health conditions can drive these costs up the roof.

For instance, some medical procedures for dogs can cost thousands of dollars. You might be willing to pay. But it can be challenging when you have to choose between paying for veterinary services and putting food on the table.

Some mental diseases are also hard to treat. These include separation anxiety and canine-compulsive behavior. Although they can respond to treatment, it is not always a guarantee.

5. Owner’s Health

You could also get sick or hurt, making caring for your pup impossible. It could be an accident or a chronic disease that limits your physical capabilities.

Your canine needs constant care, attention, food, exercise, and grooming. And you can’t provide these if you need ongoing medical attention.

Without them, your dog could develop physical and mental issues such as anxiety, obesity, behavioral problems, and arthritis. It might be hard to let go. But surrendering in such cases is the best option for you and your dog.

Woman wearing a protective mask is walking alone with a dog outdoors because of the corona virus pandemic
Image Credit: MT-R, Shutterstock

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Can You Get Your Dog Back After Surrendering It?

The hardest part about surrendering a dog is knowing you may never see it again. You can try adopting it once more. But there is no guarantee that you will get it back.

You relinquish all rights to the shelter once you surrender a pet. When you return, they might have already found a new home for your pup. It will be too late at that time. The shelter can’t share updates or information about the adoption to protect the new owner’s privacy.

Worse still, your pup could be dead. Congestion makes it impossible for some shelters to find space for new pets. And euthanizing is often the only way to deal with overcrowding.

If you are lucky to find your dog, it is still up to the shelter or rescue to decide whether to hand it over to you. They could opt not to do it out of concern that the situation could reoccur.

But if they do, they might charge adoption or impoundment fees. Remember, taking care of the pets in their custody takes money.

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How to Avoid Surrendering Your Dog

Shelters are not the best environment for pets. They are often overcrowded, and the resources are hardly enough to provide and care for all pets adequately.

Therefore, it is not advisable to surrender your dog unless you have to. You can try the alternative options below if you are experiencing challenges like those we outlined above.

owner hand shakes his australian shepherd dog
Image Credit: Rebecca Scholz, Pixabay

Get Support

Some shelters and rescues provide struggling owners with resources instead of sheltering the animals. That’s because offering assistance is cheaper than taking them in.

Some shelters can provide you with limited food and supplies for your pup. They can also offer preventative care at a low cost, including vaccination and neutering/spaying.

Additionally, shelters can conduct low-cost obedience training sessions in cases of behavioral challenges. However, you should consult your veterinarian to ensure the behavior does not result from an underlying medical issue.

Disaster response agencies such as the Red Cross can aid you in cases of natural disasters such as fires. They can provide temporary boarding services and provide food and supplies.


You can find a home for your pup directly instead of going through an adoption center. This option will allow you to pick the right home for your dog.

However, that means interviewing many potential owners, which can take much of your time. You might also be forced to host strangers in your home.

Your veterinarian could help if you’re having trouble finding a good home. They could recommend potential owners since some clients contact them when looking for pets to adopt.

Dog getting a massage from owners
Image Credit: Ekaterina Bolovtsova, Pexels

Rescue Center

Rescue centers serve the same purpose as shelters. They provide protection and care for pets that don’t have a home. The primary difference is their source of funding. Shelters are government funded, while rescues are non-profit entities that rely on donors.

Rescues don’t have a limit on the number of pets they can care for since they are not affected by limited funding. Therefore, they don’t approve cases willy-nilly. Their adoption policy is more stringent. And they take time screening potential adopters to ensure pets get the right home.

Family and Friends

The challenge with re-homing is finding owners you can trust with your dog’s life. Opting for friends and family can save you the time and energy you would spend screening potential owners.

There is also a high possibility that the friend or relative you have in mind is already acquainted with your pup. So, there is no need for introductions.

However, it would be best if you were sure your friend or relative has the resources necessary and is committed to the task. Otherwise, they could end up surrendering the dog in your stead.

dog in adoption happy pets
Photo credit: pixexid, Pixabay

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Tips for Surrendering Your Dog

You must ensure your pup finds the best home where it can be cared for, supported, and loved.

Try to consider the following tips for surrendering your dog:
  • Be forthright about your dog’s behavioral or medical issues
  • Visit the new home to ensure the environment is favorable
  • Vet the shelter to ensure it is legitimate
  • Read up on the shelters adoption policy
  • Ensure the center does not euthanize pets
  • Avoid unscrupulous people on social media
  • Hand over your dog’s belongings

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Surrendering a dog will not give shelters grounds for rejecting your future adoption request. So, nothing should stop you from trying again when circumstances change. However, you are unlikely to get your old dog back. Surrendering means relinquishing all your pup’s rights to the shelter.

And they might have already found a new home for the dog by the time you return.

You can approach the shelter for support if you can’t bear to lose your furry friend. They are always willing to help with food and supplies since it is cheaper than sheltering the pets.

Have you already made up your mind? You can try alternative options such as re-homing, rescue centers, and family and friends.

Featured Image Credit: StockSnap, Pixabay

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