Misty, the 10-year-old Golden Retriever who inspired the Senior Dogs Project

The Senior Dogs Project
..........."Looking Out for Older Dogs" ...........

"Blessed is the person who has earned the love of an old dog."
Sydney Jeanne Seward


Rehoming a Senior Dog
Over the years since the Senior Dogs Project was founded in 1997, we have seen a substantial change in attitudes about senior dogs. Although we recoil each time we receive an E-mail from a person asking us to help "get rid" of the family's senior dog (yes, hard as that is to believe, some people do still see a dog as a disposable object), we are not as pessimistic as we used to be about the dog's future -- or lack thereof. More shelters and rescue agencies than ever now make an attempt to rehome the seniors who come their way. It's different in various parts of the U.S. and the world, but, in general, there's cause for hope. We've created this page to help individuals who might be considering the surrender of a senior dog due to unforeseen or unfortunate circumstances or individuals who know of a senior dog in need of a new home.

If you are a member or on the staff of a shelter or rescue organization, click here to see the special page we've created for you.

An individual can act as an effective advocate in finding the best possible new home for a senior dog. Shelters and rescue agencies are overburdened, underfunded and understaffed; they generally do the best they can and will try to assist you. However, if you can take on the task yourself, the result can be very successful. Here are our tips, beginning with how to figure out if it's really necessary to give up your dog:

Are you an individual who is thinking of surrendering your dog? Perhaps you don't have to......

If you are considering the surrender of your senior dog, here are issues to think about:

There are many reasons that people feel they need to give up a dog -- they're moving, they can't find a landlord who accepts dogs, their work schedule has changed, the dog's primary guardian has died and no one in the family wants him, the dog has separation anxiety, the dog seems to have forgotten his housetraining, the dog's barking annoys neighbors, they're afraid the dog will hurt their child, no time for the dog now that the new baby has arrived, etc. Solutions exist to many of these problems. The following links will help you to re-evaluate your position and to explore some alternatives:

Wonderpuppy website

Denver Dumb Friends League
The DDFL website offers an outstanding collection of articles on coping with common behavior problems. (Click on "Tips and Information" to access the articles.)

Renting with Pets

Having trouble finding an apartment that will accept dogs? Read http://www.rentwithpets.org. There you will find information on how to prepare a marketing presentation about your dog that you can give to prospective landlords to convince them that YOUR dog is the model tenant and you are the model responsible dog owner. You should always be prepared to offer a pet security deposit in addition to the basic security deposit. The site also has links to state-by-state lilstings of pet-friendly apartments.

Another site that can help you locate an apartment in your city that will accept pets is: http://www.peoplewithpets.com/

Or download: 13 Steps To Finding Rental Housing That Accepts Pets

Rehoming a Senior Will Take Time

Keep in mind that, if you decide you can't keep your dog, re-homing a senior will require time and patience. Most people want puppies or young dogs, and thus it is highly unlikely that you will be able to find a home for an older dog "right away." It is unrealistic and impractical to approach the situation with that attitude. Keep in mind, also, that you can be your dog's best advocate in finding a new home. As your dog's advocate, it makes sense for you to take the time and make the effort to advertise for and properly screen a prospective new home. The "Suggestions for Placement Methods" listed below will help you.

Be aware that your dog will experience quite a bit of stress and disorientation when he is displaced from the home and family he has grown to know and love. Be prepared to "stand by" with help and support to the adoptive family.

Are you trying to help a stray or a dog in an abusive situation?

First of all, thank you for your compassion and kindness in trying to help a senior dog. Please be aware that giving the dog to your local shelter may not be the best way to help the dog. Many shelters do not have the resources to keep older dogs or attempt to re-home them. Unless the shelter advertises itself as "no kill," a senior dog may be expeditiously euthanized. Before releasing the dog to a shelter, please get a clear answer regarding whether it is a "kill" or a "no kill" organization.

If the dog is a stray, find out whether you can have him screened for a microchip at your local shelter (without surrendering him), which would enable them to locate his guardian. If not, find a local veterinarian to do it. If the dog is not microchipped, you should contact all the local shelters to tell them that you have found the dog so that the information can be made available, should the dog's guardians be searching for him. You can also run a newspaper ad and post "found dog" flyers in the neighborhood and at local veterinarians' offices, and also check the local newspapers for ads the dog's guardians may have placed in an effort to find him.

If no one claims the dog within a few weeks, and if you can act as an advocate for the dog, you can follow the "Suggestions for Placement Methods" described below.

Suggestions for Placement Methods

There are many things to be cautious about in placing a dog into a new home. Not all homes will qualify or be appropriate for a specific dog.

Best Friends Sanctuary has a number of online articles that can be helpful in your efforts to rehome a dog.

More advice and information are available from the Sunbear Squad.

Wonderpuppy's "Can We Help You Keep Your Pet?"

The Tragedy of "Free to a Good Home"


Internet advertising is usually done by certified shelters or rescue groups. Often they will provide "courtesy" listings of dogs that are not in their guardianship. Be sure to contact your local animal welfare organizations and rescue groups to determine if they offer this service. Other online advertising sites, such as Craig's List, might not be a good option. There have been many dogs that have died, neglected and/or abused, as a result of being adopted via an advertising site that is not dedicated to dog rescue.

Print advertising can be highly effective. Check the "Pets" ad pages in your local newspaper. Many papers have a special section for dog rescue. Community or church or supermarket bulletin boards are also places to post flyers about a dog in need of a home.

Rescue Groups and Shelters

Breed rescue listings on srdogs.com

Shelters and rescue agencies listed by state on srdogs.com

No-Kill Shelters Listed by State

If the dog you are trying to place is of a specific breed, and you have not been successful in finding a new home despite a genuine effort to advertise, etc., you should contact the appropriate breed rescue group. Use the link at the left to access breed rescue groups that often will help a senior dog in need. Also be sure to use the google search engine for additional breed rescue contacts (use a search term such as "Pug Rescue.")

To find an all-breed rescue group or shelter by location, use the link at the left.

The srdogs.com site lists many shelters and rescue agencies that have indicated they are willing to help senior dogs find homes. Most of the shelters are "no kill," but those that aren't will do their best to help an older dog find a home. You can use this list to see which group might have room for a dog you are trying to rehome. Although not totally inclusive, you should also check Fluffynet's list of no-kill shelters.

You can also use the google search engine for additional shelter and rescue contacts.

Senior-specific Rescue

There are a number of organizations dedicated specifically to the rescue and rehoming of dogs over the age of five years. A few specialize in placing senior dogs with senior citizens. Use the links at the left to access the information.


List of sanctuaries on srdogs.com

The need for an alternative to euthanasia for senior and special needs dogs has been answered by several organizations in the U.S. If you have run out of all other possibilities, these are places you should try. They are "last resort" only in the sense that you should do all you can through other means before applying to them. They are excellent facilities, however, and are often successful in rehoming older and special needs dogs where others have failed. Any dog who is not rehomed lives out his natural life at the facility. Space is usually quite scarce at these places, however. Use the link to the "List of Sanctuaries" at the left to find out more.

If you are not familiar with the operation of a sanctuary, you should request references and network to find out about it before releasing a dog to the organization. There have been cases of sanctuaries that are not well run. To this end, you can visit the website of the American Sanctuary Association. The group has been organized to provide a more efficient means by which to find and identify quality facilities in which to place homeless, abused or abandoned animals, facilitate the exchange of information among animal caregivers, and to create public awareness of the national problem of homeless native and non-native wild and domestic animals.

Other Resources

Help with Transport to a New Home...
Help with Advertising, Medical Expenses, Blind Dogs, Special Needs Dogs, etc.....