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Giving Up Your Pet...

Are you having problems with your pet? Litterbox? Food aggression? Territorial behavior? Spraying/Marking the house? Having a tough time integrating your pet into the house? Don't give up! Email your questions, problems or issues to this email address which goes directly to the Staff here at the shelter!


We will do some research, find a solution and email you back with suggestions on how to correct the problem/s. (Most questions can be answered within 24 hours unless staff is out on a rescue, sick or otherwise unable to check email.) 

If your pet is showing aggressive behavior you should IMMEDIATELY contact a behaviorist and/or professional dog trainer. This service is a reference tool and the information and suggestions are coming from a variety of sources, trainers, behaviorists and professional animal organizations dedicated to helping you and your pet.


Don't give up your pet if he/she has behavior problems! Click on this link for help in solving any of your problems. PLEASE remember, if your giving up YOUR pet because of these behavior problems...no one else is going to want  to deal with them either. You made a commitment for better or worse, please honor that commitment! Also remember that only 1 dog in 10 has a home for life and 1 cat in 8. Guess what happens to the rest of them???


The Animal Shelter Inc. is a private no-kill shelter which does NOT have a time limit on how long an animal can stay and DOES NOT have an age or breed restriction. The shelter will continue to house and care for such animals as long as they are NOT AGGRESSIVE, TERMINALLY ILL OR DESTRUCTIVE IN THE KENNEL.

   Please consider that if you have a vicious, fear biting, territorial, aggressive animal that's not good with children, we will not be able to place this pet, as it is a liability.  If you are planning to surrender your animal due to aggression problems remember YOU are ultimately liable if that pet bites or hurts anyone. Please do not expect ANY shelter or rescue organization to place a pet that is aggressive or has serious behavorial issues. Be honest with whomever you are trying to get to place your pet. Massachusetts has a VICIOUS DOG LAW stating that if YOUR dog has bitten and broke skin and YOU knowingly adopt, give away, place, surrender or transfer ownership of that dog...YOU are ultimately LIABLE for any damage that dog does to another person. This means you may be sued!!!

    You must also understand - you will pay to bring your animal to our shelter. Many people seem to be under the misconception that things related to an animal shelter are free.  The cost to maintain an animal shelter is incredible.  The shelter must pay for food, vet bills, rent, insurance, medication, heat,  electric, phone, website, advertising, staff, and hundreds of other things that all businesses have to pay for. (Our average monthly cost to run the shelter is $20,000.) 

You should also realize that the charge to surrender an animal is trivial compared to the well being of your pet

You should also consider spending the money it would cost you to surrender your pet, into obedience and training and then you might not have to give up your pet!


If you still need to surrender your pet, please call the shelter and we will quote you a surrender fee.  After you bring the animal to the shelter we will evaluate it to determine the final price. Our evaluation depends greatly on your animals appearance and temperament (does it need to be groomed, do you have medical records showing updated shots, is the animal friendly and healthy?)  

If the shelter deems your pet un-adoptable, you have the final option of returning for your pet and being reimbursed your surrender fee MINUS $75 for administrative fees and $15 a day for boarding. The  shelter reserves the right to euthanize any animal that is aggressive, destructive, or unhealthy. 


Moving? Don't give up your pet...Far too many pet caregivers have felt forced to give up their pets because they thought pet-friendly housing wasn't available. It IS and here's how to find it!

Can we help you keep your pet? - Please visit this website o see the alternatives to surrendering your pet. 

There are circumstances when a dog must leave its life-long home: when an owner becomes physically unable to care for a dog or the owner is terminally ill; when a dog has shown unprovoked aggression. These are "GOOD" reasons. Although the aggression factor may indicate the dog is UN-Adoptable.

"BAD" reasons are: the dog won't listen; we can't housetrain the dog; the dog chews; we're moving and can't have a dog anymore; no one takes care of the dog but me; the dog is alone too much; the dog growled/snapped at my child/me.


That’s what obedience classes are for. Most of the “chain” pet stores and often the local shelters and Animal Welfare Leagues have obedience classes for a very nominal fee. Our shelter also works with a professional trainer, please call the shelter for his name and number. There is no such thing as a dog that cannot be trained to be a well-behaved member of the household. Most canines thrive when given basic obedience training. Dogs have been bred for thousands of years to be a “help” to humans, therefore, it’s only a matter of a few hours of your time and a little money before your dog is the “good dog” you’ve always wished for. Please give your dog the benefit of the doubt and take them through a basic obedience class before you give up on them.


Our shelter NOW sells dog crates. Plus we have all the literature and details on how to properly housebreak your canine!

Dog Peeing

This is a poor excuse for giving up a dog. A dog can certainly be house trained. First, consider crate training. There are numerous books and articles on the subject. This is not “mean” to the dog, as they are den animals by nature. Then consider the dog. If you are having a problem with urination maybe you are giving your dog free access to water at the wrong times or too much water. Are you paying attention to the “timing” of accidents? If your dog drinks a cup of water, then urinates in the house 30 minutes later, begin taking the dog out after watering. Also remember, dogs have a much more acute sense of smell than we humans. Perhaps you haven’t gotten the doggie “scent” out of the floor or carpet. All pet stores sell special odor killers that, used properly, are both safe and effective. If you have questions about house training or crate training contact a trainer or rescue in your area. They will be happy to help you through.


Our shelter NOW sells crate. Plus we have all the literature and details on how to properly keep your canine from chewing up your house!

All dogs chew. Whether they chew on the appropriate item is up to you. A puppy must chew (as any baby cutting teeth must). It is up to you to provide the appropriate item for that chewing. Your vet can recommend the best type of chew items for your pup. An older dog can be trained to chew on the proper items as well. Again, you must provide these items for your dog. Finally, crate train your dog. If you allow the dog “free reign” of your home without supervision you are asking for trouble. Most dogs are safer in a crate when you are not at home.


There is housing in virtually every city and town in the United States that will allow dogs. Before you’re so sure you can’t find affordable housing that will accept pets please look in the local newspaper, or speak with an apartment broker in the area. When taking this dog into your life, you made a commitment that you would love and provide for it the rest of its life. Would you be so quick to move into housing that would not take your children? Then why are you so quick to move where you can not take your dog?


You have our sympathy. This often happens in households where all members are not committed to the upkeep of an animal. No one wants all of the responsibility. However, this is hardly the dog’s fault, and a very poor reason to have a dog destroyed. Make no mistake-if you take the dog to a shelter, it will probably be euthanized for the unpardonable sin of being a member of the wrong family. You will be killing the dog because you no longer want the responsibility. Make sure this is the kind of person you want to be and the example you want to set for the rest of your family.


We all want to spend as much time with our animals as we can. Personally I’d like to spend all day with mine, but that’s not possible (somebody has to work to buy dog food). Many dog owners leave their animals for 8 to 10 hours while they’re working or at school. While this is not the best of all worlds, it certainly is better than destroying the dog and frankly, is that really the problem? Is it that you feel bad for the dog or you don’t want to spend your limited amount of “free” time taking care of it? As mentioned before, you made a commitment to this animal. Now you’re too busy for them? Please rethink what you are considering. Do you want the dog destroyed because you just “don’t have the time"?


This is a tough one. Whether the dog is actually aggressive or not is a judgment call that you, and only you, can make. Did the dog growl or snap without being provoked? Were you attempting to take something from the dog? Did this happen when food was involved? Was the dog protecting itself from unintended abuse by a child?  Many dogs will "snap" to defend their space, or if they feel attacked or pressured. Dogs will react the only way they know how. If the growling and snapping is ongoing, then the dog should be taken to a behavioral therapist (trainer). The trainers will try to teach the dog to react differently to a variety of situations. Snapping is a control response.  In most cases, you have to look at root cause. Ok - the dog snapped. Was it because I was playing to aggressively? Was I moving the food bowl during feeding? Many times, it is our fault, but we still want to blame the dog because we as humans do not like to be in the wrong. Bottom line is growling, snapping, and biting can all be corrected. The question is are you willing to take the amount of time needed for the correction. Make a good choice. 

This is a time to do some cold, honest and candid soul-searching, not a time to be optimistic or to "look on the bright side"; there likely isn't one. Don't wind up in the dog house - Give your dog the chance it deserved before you chose to take him home.

“How Could You?”

Copyright Jim Willis 2001

 When I was a puppy, I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh. You called me your child, and despite a number of chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend. Whenever I was “bad,” you’d shake your finger at me and ask “How could you?” – but then you’d relent, and roll me over for a bellyrub.

My housebreaking took a little longer than expected, because you were terribly busy, but we worked on that together. I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed and listening to your confidences and secret dreams, and I believed that life could not be any more perfect. We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I only got the cone because “ice cream is bad for dogs,” you said), and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day.

Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more time searching for a human mate. I waited for you patiently, comforted you through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about bad decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell in love.

She, now your wife, is not a “dog person” – still I welcomed her into our home, tried to show her affection, and obeyed her. I was happy because you were happy. Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I was fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them, too. Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most of my time banished to another room, or to a dog crate. Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became a “prisoner of love.”

As they began to grow, I became their friend. They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears, and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about them and their touch – because your touch was now so infrequent – and I would have defended them with my life if need be.

I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams, and together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway. There had been a time, when others asked you if you had a dog, that you produced a photo of me from your wallet and told them stories about me. These past few years, you just answered “yes” and changed the subject. I had gone from being “your dog” to “just a dog,” and you resented every expenditure on my behalf.

Now, you have a new career opportunity in another city, and you and they will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. You’ve made the right decision for your “family,” but there was a time when I was your only family.

I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter. It smelled of dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness. You filled out the paperwork and said “I know you will find a good home for her.” They shrugged and gave you a pained look. They understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog, even one with “papers.” You had to pry your son’s fingers loose from my collar as he screamed “No, Daddy! Please don’t let them take my dog!” And I worried for him, and what lessons you had just taught him about friendship and loyalty, about love and responsibility, and about respect for all life. You gave me a goodbye pat on the head, avoided my eyes, and politely refused to take my collar and leash with you. You had a deadline to meet and now I have one, too.

After you left, the two nice ladies said you probably knew about your upcoming move months ago and made no attempt to find me another good home. They shook their heads and asked “How could you?”

They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules allow. They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago. At first, whenever anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you – that you had changed your mind – that this was all a bad dream...or I hoped it would at least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me. When I realized I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of happy puppies, oblivious to their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited.

I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day, and I padded along the aisle after her to a separate room. A blissfully quiet room. She placed me on the table and rubbed my ears, and told me not to worry. My heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of days. As is my nature, I was more concerned about her. The burden which she bears weighs heavily on her, and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood.

She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago. She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing through my body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes and murmured “How could you?”

Perhaps because she understood my dogspeak, she said “I’m so sorry.” She hugged me, and hurriedly explained it was her job to make sure I went to a better place, where I wouldn’t be ignored or abused or abandoned, or have to fend for myself – a place of love and light so very different from this earthly place. And with my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her with a thump of my tail that my “How could you?” was not directed at her. It was you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of. I will think of you and wait for you forever.

May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.

The End

Animal Shelter Inc.
17 Laurelwood Road
Sterling, MA 01564
phone (978)422-8585
fax (978)422-8574

new england animal shelter


Copyright © 1998-2013 Animal Shelter, Inc.