surrendering a pet

Important Resources to Consider Before Rehoming or Surrendering Your Pet

We know sometimes, as much as we love our pet, circumstances may cause deep frustration and even desperation. We are here to help.

We strive to keep loving owners and their pets together, so we provide many resource that are meant to support pet owners in their time of need. Please review our resources below that best fit your situation.

Resources Available at Santa Barbara Humane

Is the issue with your pet’s behavior?
Certified trainers provide free behavior advice. Call 805-964-4777 or email [email protected]. We can also recommend affordable dog training or if finances are tough, funds may be available to support you.

My pet is ill and I can’t afford the treatment.
Santa Barbara Humane provides affordable veterinary care for many illnesses and ailments. There is also a fund for those who cannot afford the care necessary. To see a detailed list of our veterinary services visit the clinic page.

Other Community Resources

RedRover Relief
The RedRover Relief program provides financial and emotional support to good samaritans, animal rescuers, and pet owners to help them care for animals in life-threatening situations and resources to help victims of domestic violence escape abusive environments with their pets.

STARelief and Pet Assistance
The mission of STARelief and Pet Assistance is to provide life-saving pet food, veterinary care, emergency boarding, and foster care to pets whose caretakers are struggling with financial hardship.

Dogs on Deployment
Dogs on Deployment’s mission is to give military members peace of mind concerning their pets during their service commitments by providing them with the ability to find people and resources to help them.

Care 4 Paws
Care4Paws provides assistance for the following items: pet food, cat litter, flea medication, blankets, pet jackets, dog beds, leashes, collars, and more. They also assist with services such as free spays/neuters, critical veterinary care, vaccinations, and microchips in their mobile veterinary clinic.

Other Community Resources

BADRAP has a very informative page about how to find pet-friendly housing as well as a page that provides information about finding homeowner’s and renter’s insurance that does not discriminate by breed. 

Renting with Your Dog:

Insurance Resources:

People with Pets
People with Pets offers a search engine for locating pet-friendly apartments, housing, and hotels along with other pet-related resources (pet services, products, events, attractions, restaurants, parks, beaches, and more).

Help Your Pet Find Their New Home

Making a decision to rehome your pet is very difficult, but if rehoming is the only option you have, there are alternatives to surrendering to a shelter. A majority of animals find their homes through private individuals, not animal shelters, and by by keeping your animal out of the shelter you not only minimize their stress, you can actually help the shelter save more homeless animals in need. If you are dedicated and creative, you can find a home for your animal. Best of all you can make sure that the adopter meets your qualifications and your animal’s needs.

We strongly recommend that you set your animal up for success before you start the rehoming process. Please make sure that your dog or cat is spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and has had a recent veterinary exam. All potential adopters should feel comfortable that they are adopting a healthy animal or that they are made aware of any concerns ahead of time.

If you adopted your pet from a shelter or rescue, always check with them first to see if they will take the pet back. Many rescues require that you return a pet to them if you unable to keep it.

The following websites to the right are for local rescues that you can reach out to as a resource for rehoming

If you are considering working with a rescue organization, we reccomend making sure that they are a registered 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization. You can confirm any organization’s nonprofit status by visiting: 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to ask for references from local shelters or veterinarians. Any reputable organization will be glad that you care!

Southern California Labrador Retriever Rescue:

Westside German Shepherd Rescue:

Leave No Paws Behind Senior and Special Needs Rescue:


Old Yeller Ranch Rescue:

Paw Works:

Muttville Senior Dog Rescue:

All About Dogs and Cats (all breeds rescue list):

Santa Barbara County Animal Services
(can do same-day relinquishments):

Promote Your Pet

You can post your animals on the following websites. Please visit each site independently for rules and regulations. 


Home to Home:

Rescue Me:

Get Your Pet:

PBRC (pit bulls and pit bull mixes only):

Help Your Pet Go Viral—Online and Offline

  1. Social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are a great way to spread the word that your pet is in need of a new home. Post the message to everyone you know with video and pictures. Enlist your friends to spread the word!
  2. Reach out to everyone that’s already in your pet’s inner circle: veterinarians, groomers, neighbors, dog park buddies, and pet sitters are often anxious to help a friend in need. You would be surprised how often we get calls from neighbors wanting to adopt animals that were surrendered to us! Your dog or cat may already have admirers nearby who would be willing to open their home to your pet.
  3. Consider placing a classified ad in your local paper or posting an ad on Craig’s List or through your local Next Door account.
  4. Post flyers everywhere you can! Most veterinary offices, pet stores, and feed stores have bulletin boards with space designated for this purpose. Many employers, gyms, grocery stores, libraries, and Community Centers have bulletin boards as well. Leave tabs with your phone number so that people can contact you without having to remove the entire flyer.
  5. Purchase an “Adopt Me” vest or make your own and make sure your dog wears it every time he or she is out in public! Go to places where you are likely to connect with other dog lovers, i.e. dog parks, popular hiking trails, pet stores, feed stores, etc.

Before Rehoming Your Pet

Set your pet up for success from the start.
By taking a trip to the veterinarian before finding a new home for your animal, you can reassure potential adopters that he/she does not need medical attention and is healthy. Spay or neuter your pet and make sure he/she is current on vaccinations. Make sure you have an updated copy of veterinary records; this will be an added bonus for the new owner.

Take quality color photos.
Remember that with all postings, pictures are key! Full body shots of your pet are great, but make sure that the potential adopters can connect with your pet’s eyes. We recommend leaving people out of the photo. If possible, provide multiple photos and/or videos of your pet. Make sure to showcase your pet’s best attribute, if he or she is super cuddly, post a photo with a stuffed animal or a picture of them snuggled under covers. If your pet is athletic and loves to play, post a photo of them with their ball, swimming, hiking,etc.

Write a detailed description of your pet.
Point out your favorite qualities and the reasons why you adopted. Explain why the animal needs a new home and what kind of environment he/she would need to make the transition flawless. Make sure to outline their likes and dislikes, desirable traits and tricks, and any extras that animal lovers would look for (dog park dog, lives peacefully with cats, great with babies, may be best as only pet in the home, etc.). Try to go into detail about your pet’s personality and why anyone would be lucky to have them as a part of their family.

You could try writing from the pet’s point of view for a great way to catch a new owner’s attention: “Hi there I’m Duke and I’m looking for my forever home! I’m a pretty active outdoorsy guy, and I really love playing fetch with my Frisbee. I’m not really into sharing my owner so I would prefer to be the only pet in the home.” Remember to keep your description detailed and share positive information about your pet too!

Find the Right Match

Have the potential adopters fill out a questionnaire.
Once you have an adopter interested, we recommend that you screen that person carefully to ensure your pet finds a loving, permanent home. Ask the adopters the following questions:

  • What attracted you to my pet?
  • What are you looking for in a companion?
  • What are the deal breakers that would make you consider not adopting? (Make sure to be honest and up front if your pet may do something that’s a deal breaker for someone else!)
  • What is your plan of action to introduce the pet to the home?
  • Where will he/she be during the day?
  • Where will he/she sleep at night?
  • Do you have a veterinarian or an idea of one you may want to go to?
  • What is your experience with animals?
  • Do you currently have any pets in the home? If so, what is your plan for introduction in the home?
  • If for some reason in the future you had to give the pet up, what would your plan be to find them a new home? (If you’d rather have adopters contact you before rehoming, make sure to let them know.)

Unless a relative or close friend is adopting the animal, charge an adoption fee.
If you think the person is a great fit and would be the best match for your pet, you can also ask they make a donation to your local animal shelter instead of paying the adoption fee.

Set up a meet in your home only if you feel comfortable.
Otherwise choose a calm neutral environment for them to meet with the animal. Ensure that the environment will not cause additional stress to your animal, and secure enough they will not escape. You can always reach out to your local humane society to see if they can assist with the meeting.

For dogs: try to meet somewhere your dog loves like your backyard, the dog park, or go on a walk around the neighborhood. Watch to see how your dog acts with the new person. Make sure everyone that will be living with the dog is at the meeting so you can ensure it will be a good fit for everyone. If the potential adopters have another dog(s), it would be a good idea to do a pet meet as well.

Check references.
Ask to contact the potential adopter’s veterinarian, landlord, and neighbors. This is a great way to ensure your pet will be safe. Asking for references is a great way to help choose your pet’s new owner—maybe the adopter has pet sat or walked the neighbor’s dogs in
the past.

Once You’ve Found a Match for Your Pet

Send the pet to his or her new home with familiar items. Blankets and toys with familiar scents can help ease the transition. Look for an appeasing pheromone (ADAPTIL or FELIWAY) that helps
relieve anxiety.

Check in with the adopter. Ask the adopter if you can call to check in after a few weeks. That way, you can rest assured the pet is adjusting well. Plus, if there are any issues you can possibly help assist or give tips on how to solve them.

I have exhausted these options for my pet. What else can I do?

Email us at [email protected] and tell us your situation. Someone will contact you to see if we have additional options for you.

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