Thinking about surrendering your family pet is a tough choice. The decision is not made easily, and it is very difficult to lose a loving pet. Sometimes families have no other choice but to surrender (whether due to allergies, finances, or hitting a dead end with resources such as training), and it is a decision made with love and the best interest of their pet in mind. However, there are situations where there may be other resources for you to consider before deciding to surrender.

It takes courage and humility to ask for help. Surrendering your pet to a shelter, when you have no other options, is not a sign of giving up or not caring; in a way, it’s a sign of love and caring. These people could very easily just open the door and let the inside-only cat out to fend for itself or tie a dog to a tree and assume someone else will find them and take care of them (these things happen all the time), or drop them off in the woods somewhere, but they don’t. They pack up their things and take them to a place where they will be fed and at least have a chance of being adopted and finding a new, loving home.

~ from “An Open Letter to People Who Surrender Their Pets to the Shelteron Catster [Although the article talks about cats, we feel that the same principles apply for dogs.]

Are you thinking of surrendering? Do not feel guilty or ashamed, as sometimes circumstances change that you cannot predict. We want to be sure we give you some options before you lose your beloved furry family member, so please visit our “Learn” page for information. Some answers you may find there include:

  • Behavioural issues: We have many resources for amazing trainers to consider in the Ottawa area (with high success rates), as well as links to common behaviour issue solutions and body language details. What is your dog telling you? How can you help Fido learn what they need to, so that they can remain in your home? Remember that all trainers and classes are different; if one isn’t working for your family then ask for a refund if possible and try another facility or program — find the right fit for you and your dog! Don’t give up! Our Learn page can help get you started.
  • Moving: Moving to a new place? Try finding a location that is pet-friendly if this is an option.
  • A new pet: Thinking about, or have you already brought home a new furry family member and are now having/worried about issues integrating the pets in the home? Our Learn page has links about introducing new dogs and cats to help you with a smooth transition, as well as to help you understand what is happening in the mind of your pets.
  • A new human: Maybe you have started a new relationship with someone allergic or new to living with an animal. Check out our Learn page together to find out what you will need to create harmony. Or, maybe you’re welcoming a tiny human — check out our links on dogs and kids, and meet with a trainer prior to the arrival if possible to help with preparation training if necessary. There are also links about building a bond that may assist integrating a new human family member to your dog.
  • Allergies: Sadly if someone in your home is allergic to a pet, you may need to consider surrendering for the health of your family member. If you want to adopt, but have a family member with allergies, think about the breed before you bring it home, and meet many different breeds to find the right breed for the allergies, since all breeds affect allergies differently. Maybe all you need is hypoallergenic shampoo or regular grooming appointments? Or a diet change (oils or additional fluids to help reduce dander or shedding), or grooming maintenance (such as wiping down your dog after a walk through the allergens outside). Start your research and talk to your doctor and a veterinarian to get you started.
  • Finances: If you’re unable to afford vetting fees or health care for your beloved pet, please consider surrendering sooner rather than later to ensure the illness is caught before it progresses to a lethal state. Losing a furry loved one is a difficult decision, and in the case of finances for food or spay/neuter there may also be local financial assistance to help you keep your pet. Consider contacting your local shelter or township/city for assistance programs.
  • Life change: Divorce? Family death? Busier routine, new job or schedule? Ask friends and family for assistance where possible, but also consider looking into Doggy Day Care centres or a dog walker.

If you’ve tried all the above without success, please complete the form at the bottom of the page so that we can assist you in anyway we can.


The following form asks for some basic information. The more detail you provide, the better we will be able to help you.

Note: Rocky Road Rescue operates in the Ottawa region, but we do have partner organizations in other areas of Ontario. We do not transfer dogs outside of the province.

We understand that surrendering your dog is a difficult decision. You know your dog best, and so we ask for as much detail as possible for these questions so that we can find the right foster home to provide care until we secure a forever home. Thank you for being as complete as you can!

Rocky Road Rescue