What to do if you cannot look after your pet any more

Ill health, financial worries, change of family circumstances, emigration, a new baby - all of these factors might be making you wonder whether you must make the agonising decision to give up your pet.

Mon 12 Mar 2018

By Judy

What to do if you cannot look after your pet any more

What should you do if your pet is becoming too much for you?

Ill health, financial worries, change of family circumstances, emigration, a new baby - all of these factors might be making you wonder whether you must make the agonising decision to give up your pet.

Options if the problems with looking after your pet are only temporary?

If the worry of caring for you pet is down to illness or injury, going into hospital or any other reason for not being available for a while, you could consider putting your pet into kennels or foster care. The Cinnamon Trust is a charitable organisation that has 4,500 registered volunteers across the UK. They may be able to help you find short term fostering care for your pet if you are elderly and have to go into hospital. They can also offer dog walking services so that you do not have to give up your pet if you find yourself immobile for a while.

Has your pet developed behavioural issues that make you want to give it up?

Signs of aggression, destructiveness, self mutilation and soiling are unpleasant and worrying, but you can get help with these problems. The first thing to do is to get a vet to examine your pet to make sure that it is not sick or injured as this could be causing its problems (it might be aggressive owing to pain from a physical problem, or it might have become incontinent owing to a urine infection as examples)

The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB) accredits Certified Clinical Animal Behaviourists (CCAB), or The Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC) also represents animal behaviourists are two bodies who could advise you about this. CCAB and APBC behaviour experts will work to identify the cause of the behaviour problem and then develop structured treatment plans that are suitable for you, your pet and your circumstances.

Do you have financial worries concerning your pet?

As with so many things to do with pets, everything costs money and maybe vets bills are causing you to fear for a future with your pet. You could in this case consider taking out pet insurance so that manageable amounts each month will be put away to cover unexpected vets’ bills in the future, you are covered (within the limits and terms of your policy) from the moment you take the cover out.

You could also ask your vet if they will consider taking small payments on a regular basis if you have a large vet bill.

Other ways to get help for your pet

You could also contact the following organisations in case you are eligible for their assistance:
PDSA – see their website or call 0800 7312502 (only if you are on housing benefits)
The Blue Cross – see their website or call 01993 822651
The RSPCA – see their website or call 0300 1234555

If you still cannot see a way out of having to give up your pet

If you have considered all the alternative measures to giving up your pet and found that you still have to do it, you may consider the following options.

Are there friends or family who would take your pet?

A lot of pets are successfully re-homed in this way and it may be a way for you to see your pet again from time to time if you can bear it. Your local vet may know someone who would take your pet on, so it is always worth asking.

Welfare Centres

If the help of friends and family is not available to you then you should contact an animal rescue centre. With any luck they will be able to rehome your pet with a new owner in a domestic environment where it will be loved and get lots of attention. In any event welfare centres have the policy of never putting a healthy pet to sleep.

Do note that these centres give priority to those pets that are in desperate need (for example those who have been rescued from cruelty and neglect or who have been found abandoned) so your pet may not be able to go to the centre immediately, because it does, for the moment, have a home.

Do not be ashamed to hand your pet over. If you can afford to, make a donation when you hand over your pet to help the centre with the animal’s rehabilitation and that of others. If you really cannot give it the home it needs, it is far better to give it a second chance via a welfare centre rather than say abandoning it somewhere far from home and hoping it will be OK - or taking some other extreme course of action.

Giving up pedigree pets

If your dog, cat or any other animal is a pure breed you could talk to the relevant breeders’ associations. You will be able to get in touch with those who have knowledge of the breed, Also there are welfare centres who specialise in particular breeds (and their crosses) - see for example Labrador Rescue.

Once you have handed the pet over it is no longer your property, so be really sure before you make the final decision.

Some things to be done before you place your pet in its new home

Ensure that your pet is in good health before you hand it over, with all its vaccinations, worming etc up to date. Also, you will need to advise your microchip logging company, in writing, of the change of ownership. There will probably be a charge for this.

Contact your microchip information holding company.

Advise your insurance company that you are giving up your pet if it is insured.

Let your vet and anyone else who has dealings with your pet know the new owner’s contact details. Also advise the new owner of your vet’s details. Note that veterinary records do not automatically get moved between practices when a patient changes their surgery, as our NHS records do. Previous medical history (including conditions that are on-going) are essential for the new owner to obtain the correct veterinary treatment and to ensure that they buy the correct insurance for the pet.