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San Diego Humane Society

Give Up a Pet


San Diego Humane Society realizes that deciding to give up a pet can be a very difficult and emotional time. To help your family through this process, we want to provide some additional resources to assist you with this transition. We strive to be a resource for community members and their pets throughout their entire lives and want to be here to help you through this challenging time.

First, you will want to determine if giving up your pet is the solution you want to take. We have included some of the common reasons for relinquishing animals, along with some solutions you may not have considered. These can help you decide if there are other options for your pet or if you truly need to relinquish him/her.

If you determine that you do need to relinquish your pet, you’ll first want to try to find a new home on your own so that he/she does not have to come to a shelter. This guide has some tools to use and issues to consider when finding a new home for your pet.

If you have exhausted all of the resources available to you, you can make an appointment online to surrender your pet to San Diego Humane Society. You may also call to schedule an appointment: for San Diego Campus, call 619-299-7012; for El Cajon Campus, call 619-299-7012; for Escondido Campus, call 619-299-7012, ext. 2737; for Oceanside Campus, call 619-299-7012, ext. 2858 (dogs), or ext. 2000 (cats and small pets).

Your pet has a much better chance of being placed successfully with a new family if staff can spend time with you and your pet during a surrender counseling meeting to obtain as much information as possible. Please be prepared to spend at least 45 minutes when your surrender your pet.

San Diego Humane Society is here to help you through this time to help you make the best decision for your pet. San Diego Humane Society

Resources to Help Keep Your Pet

Community Support Services

Resources to support community members who are having challenges caring for their pets. For more training tips, wellness information or financial resources, please visit our Resource Center


Many pet-related problems are solvable! Talk to our staff about your situation. Whether it’s a pet behavior problem, a housing issue, or another kind of crisis, the more information we have, the better we’ll be able to advise you and come up with solutions that might help you and your animal stay together. Call us at (619) 299-7012 to discuss your situation. The following resources may be able to provide support to whatever challenges you are facing so that you do not need to give up your pet.

Pet Behavior Help

From inappropriate urination to aggression, sometimes animals adopt new behaviors that can be very difficult to cope with, and, without assistance, can leave you feeling helpless.

  • Contact Your Regular Veterinarian — Some issues that appear to be behavioral can be the result of a medical condition, so it is important to rule out all possible medical causes.
  • Print Resources –San Diego Humane Society has a resource library of articles addressing a wide range of behavior issues. Educational Resources
  • Contact a Trainer – To get help from a trainer with dog behavior issues and concerns, call (619) 299-7012, ext. 2398 or, visit Behavior Helpline: Contact our Behavior Team and submit your question. Our goal is to respond within 7 days, but responses may take up to 2 weeks. Thank you for your patience!

Financial Hardship

While it would be ideal if funding for pet care was as limitless as your love for your pet, we all know that is not always the case. Falling on hard times can mean having to face difficult decisions. Thankfully, there are some resources that may be useful in helping you keep your pet through the hard times.

  • Pet Food Assistance – San Diego Humane Society, assists individuals experiencing a financial hardship with pet supplies, such as food, cat litter, and more. Visit our website to learn more about enrolling in this program. Visit Community Pet Pantry
  • Medical Care including Spay/Neuter Information – There are some organizations that can assist with medical bills. To access a list of these groups, visit Veterinary Care. For assistance with altering your pet so you do not continue to have litters of puppies or kittens, you can call (619) 299-7012 ext. 2334 or (760) 681-5751, email, or visit Spay and Neuter and Reduced-Fee Spay & Neuter Services.

Pet Friendly Housing Options

Moving is stressful, even under the best circumstances. However, this does not mean you have to give up your pet. If you are renting, here are some tips for negotiating with potential landlords:

  • Allow yourself extra time to find a residence where pets are allowed.
  • Do your research. There are some pet-friendly rentals. For a list of many (but not all) apartment complexes and landlords that allow pets, please visit Pet-Friendly Housing.
  • When talking to landlords, be honest and offer to introduce your pet(s) to the landlord. This should demonstrate that your pet is well behaved and will not pose a threat to anyone in the community.
  • Providing references from your vet and/or past landlords can help show a prospective landlord you are a committed pet owner. Proving that your pet is current on vaccines shows that you are diligent about providing necessary care.
  • Offer to sign a statement promising to keep all pets indoors or on-leash at all times they are on the premises.

Military Family Issues

Serving in the military should not mean that you need to give up your pet. San Diego Humane Society can offer support through deployment and relocation processes. To learn about the various services that we offer, visit the Military Support page of our website. Military Support

Alternatives & Resources

Many pet-related problems are solvable and our trained staff is here to help with each unique situation! 

Whether it's a behavior problem, a housing issue or another kind of crisis, we're here to help and offer guidance. Call 619-299-7012 so we can find a solution together.


Tips for Rehoming Your Pet


Before surrendering your pet to a shelter, please consider finding your dog or cat a home, before they ever leave your side. Doing this allows you to play a role in placing your pet with a new family, reduces stress of transition for your pet, and makes additional space available for other pets needing to enter the shelter.

Here Is How to Get Started:

  • Make a Rehoming Poster – Use the poster included in this packet as a guideline. Make several photocopies of the poster. Bring one of your rehoming posters to San Diego Humane Society and it will be shared for people looking to adopt a pet to see.
    Rehome Poster Template

  • Photos – Take several color photos of your pet enjoying your home that showcase their looks, size, temperament, etc. 
    10 Tips for Taking Better Pet Photos
  • Short Bio – Write a short description about your pet. This should include the reason why your pet needs a new home, the kind of home he or she would do well in, and some funny or interesting information — for example, your pet’s funniest behaviors, his/her favorite thing to do or the thing you love most about your pet. Many people write the story from the animal’s perspective, for example, “Hi, my name is Bella ...” Remember to be honest. You want this transition to be successful for your pet.
  • Share with Everyone – Email friends, family members and co-workers. Post on social media sites such as Facebook, Nextdoor and Twitter. Hang your posters at your workplace, community centers, veterinary offices, pet supply stores and other locations where pet owners visit often.
  • Foster and Rescue Groups – Talk to breed-specific rescue groups. These groups can provide a variety of opportunities for your pet, including the possibility of your pet staying in foster care until a new home is found.
    Rescue Partners and Animal Welfare Organizations

  • Advertise – Place an ad on Craigslist and in your local newspaper, listing the most important characteristics about your pet. Advertise with photos to get more attention.

Online Communities

Visit Rehome by Adopt-a-Pet, Home To Home and Get Your Pet to help find your pet a new home. These online communities directly connects people who need to give up a pet with people who want to adopt.

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