Help — Rehoming a Senior Dog

Rehoming a Senior Dog

If you find yourself in the position of having to give up a senior dog due to circumstances beyond your control, finding a new home for the dog is possible -- but it will take time and work.


Have you carefully considered whether it’s absolutely necessary for you to rehome the dog?  Do you want to review some typical reasons people give and the alternatives to surrendering the dog?  Here are some scenarios:

Financial Hardship
If you can’t afford to keep the dog, you can try to find an agency that will help.  Some agencies set aside a portion of their funds to help pay for veterinary medical expenses when it will make a difference in whether a dog can remain with the original family.

Getting Financial Help

See the list of agencies….    Also, check with your local senior dog rescue….

Other Causes of Senior Dog Displacement
 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 is no longer able to care for the dog or has died and no one in the family nor any friend can take the dog, separation anxiety has become a major issue, the dog seems to have forgotten his housetraining, the dog’s barking annoys neighbors, parents are afraid the dog will hurt their child, there's no time for the dog now that the new baby has arrived, etc. Solutions exist to many of these problems. There’s good information at Wonderpuppy’s “Can We Help You Keep Your Pet?”

Having trouble finding an apartment that will accept dogs? Read the Humane Society’s recommendations.  Among them: 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. Be prepared to offer a pet security deposit in addition to the basic security deposit.  Another site that can help you locate an apartment in your city that will accept pets is:   Or download: 13 Steps To Finding Rental Housing That Accepts Pets.   Before you go to look at an apartment, prepare a resume for your dog.  Landlords will take you more seriously, if you do.  You can use this guide to writing a convincing resumeOnce you’ve found an apartment, you’ll want to ensure the return of any pet deposit you’ve made and also to create a good relationship with your landlord by following the good advice at How to Pet-proof Your Apartment or Home for Your Pet.

Finding and Evaluating a New Home -- Acting as an Advocate

It is true that there are a number of dog rescue groups dedicated to helping seniors.  You can put out the word to them by visiting their websites to find contact information.  Here is the link to the most current listing available to us: Groups That Love Helping Senior Dogs

If you are very lucky, the group you contact will have room in their program.  However, it's more likely that you will have to look further.

Keep in mind that 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. It will take time and effort to put word out about the dog and to properly screen a prospective new home.

Best Friends has many good suggestions on their Rehoming Page.

Be aware that a dog who has been displaced will experience quite a bit of stress and disorientation.  If you are acting as the dog’s advocate, be prepared to “stand by” with help and support to the adoptive family.


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.

The Tragedy of “Free to a Good Home” will make you extremely cautious — not all prospective homes are what they might seem.

The adopt-a-pet site offers a venue for listing your pet and carefully explains the procedures for both the dog guardian and prospective adopters to follow.

The Rescue Me! site offers a free listing to shelters and rescue groups and to anyone needing to find a home for a dog.

The site is  “… online community that connects people who want to adopt a pet with people who need to find their pet a new home.”

In addition to posting the dog on adoptapet or a similar internet venue, you will also find rescue groups that will sometimes provide “courtesy” listings of dogs that are not in their guardianship.  Check this list of rescues and sanctuaries to find one that is in your geographical area and that offers this service. Also try shelters and other rescues.  Other online advertising sites, such as Craig’s List, are generally not considered good options. 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.

If the dog you are trying to place is 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. See the breed rescue page on this site. Also be sure to use a search engine for additional breed rescue contacts (use a search term such as “Pug Rescue.”)

The 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.