The idea of not being able to keep you pet anymore usually doesn’t even occur to us most of the time. However, unfortunately, there can be lots of reasons why a dog or cat owner might find themselves in the situation where they can no longer keep their beloved pet, either short-term or, maybe, even forever. If/when this happens, what can you do?
I do know of people who are so convinced their pet would never be happy with anyone else that they tell themselves that they would have him/her PTS rather than giving them to strangers. However, although this is an understandable reaction, unless you have an elderly or sick pet, it is not really an option.
If you only need short-term help because, for example, you have to go into hospital, you may be able to:
- ask a family member, friend or neighbour to help
- put your dog/cat in kennels
- ask your vet or local dog warden service if they know of any volunteers who could help
- contact an animal support network or charity to see if they can help
However, if you are in a situation where you can’t look after your dog or cat anymore at all, maybe due to illness, because you are moving/changing jobs, perhaps because he/she requires too much time/effort, or even because you can no longer afford it – possibly because you have lost your job, for example, then what?
If you really can’t keep your pet, and you have no family or friends who can help, your best bet will be to talk with a local animal charity, such as Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Dog’s Trust, Cat’s Protection etc. See also our list of local charities:Berkshire Animal Charities
Most of these rescue centres have a policy of never turning away a dog or cat in need of help, and will also never have a healthy animal PTS just because no one wants it. Sometimes, especially if it is not an emergency, they may not be able to take your cat or dog immediately, and will put you on a waiting list until they have some space available. Alternatively, they may be able to temporarily place your pet in a foster home. Please always make sure you contact a centre first to arrange a visit to discuss your options.
When you ‘gift’ your pet to a rescue centre, you also give up ownership of him/her. Unless the reason for parting with your pet is purely financial, you should also be prepared to give a donation to help cover the costs but, again, rescue homes will not turn away pets whose owners genuinely cannot afford a donation.
Some people can feel so embarrassed or guilty about giving away their dog or cat that they may even pretend the he/she is a stray they have found rather than their own pet. Please do not be tempted to do this because the more information you can give the rescue centre about your pet, the better the chances they can quickly be rehomed somewhere they will settle and be happy. Strays about which there is little history will normally have to spend much longer in kennels/cattery, which they often find stressful, so that they can be assessed to find out what sort of home and owner is best for them. A longer stay in the centre is not only more stressful but also obviously more costly, which limits the number of other pets that can be helped.
By the way, there are also a number of charities that specialise in helping when cats or dogs have become homeless due to the hospitalisation or even death of an elderly owner, such as Trindledown Farm Animal Rescue Centre, and older dogs can also find help through the Oldies Club fostering network, which specialises in placing older pets in foster care until homes can be found for them.
Of course, taking on a cat or dog is, and should be, a serious, life-long commitment and should never be undertaken lightly. However, should your circumstances change unexpectedly so that you genuinely find yourself in the difficult situation of no longer being able to keep your pet, help is available and, for your pet’s sake, you should never be too embarrassed or ashamed to look for it.