Giving Up Your Pet

All surrenders are done by appointment on a space-available basis (which changes day-to-day).

Please NOTE: if you are contacting our shelter to take a stray (or even your own pet) and the animal has ANY wounds of unknown origin – including but not limited to bites, scratches, abscesses, scars – the MA Rabies laws state the animal must be quarantined for 6 MONTHS or euthanized. Sadly this is a STATE LAW and is due to concerns for rabies and a pet with a wound being exposed to a potentially rabid animal. Our shelter will not and can not take animals with such wounds.

You may call our shelter for surrender fees and availability at 978 422 8585, our shelter generally accepts surrendered animals Tuesday – Thursday from 11 a.m. – 5:30 p.m – when we have a vet on staff to evaluate and exam incoming animals.

PRIOR to calling us to surrender, we ask you to follow the steps below:

If you need to surrender your pet be advised that we are a limited admission, no-kill shelter. This means that we have limited space / resources to accept pets. Though we DO NOT have an age limit – we DO NOT accept animals that are aggressive, have a bite history (provoked or not), have severe medical conditions or are on medication/s.

Surrenders are done on a SPACE available basis and we cannot always accommodate surrenders – space chances daily at our facility so we recommend after you are quoted a surrender fee to call daily after 10 a.m. to see if we have a pen open.

Also consider getting help if your pet has a behavior issue through the Virtual Pet Behaviorist

  1. First call your veterinarian and have ALL medical records (we need BOTH handwritten medical history that the vet has on your pet/s AND vaccination records) faxed to 978 422 8574 - it is critical that we have any/all handwritten records AS WELL as the vaccination history so we can review the pets overall health and what the pet may need when it comes to our shelter. Even if your pet has expired medical/vaccinations we STILL need to see any previous history. We also recommend you bring any copies you may have in your possession as well.
  2. Once you’ve confirmed your vet has faxed all necessary medical history call our shelter at 978 422 8585 and we can quote you a surrender fee. Our surrender fees vary and depend greatly on your animal’s medical history, vaccination status, spay/neuter status, breed, age, reason for surrender. Surrender fees are also based on what we estimate this pet will need medically prior to adoption (i.e. needs blood work, dental, spay/neuter, vaccinations, tests, etc).
  3. Please have your pet groomed/bathed and looking and smelling good – your pet will have a better chance at being adopted if he/she looks clean and happy and wearing a new collar. If your pet has special toys or items – a crate, heartworm and/or flea and tick medications, beds etc…please bring them with a label with your pet’s name on them so we can pass them on to the new adopting family. Bringing “comfort” items will help your pet adjust more quickly in his/her new home. PLEASE DO NOT BRING LITTER BOXES AND MAKE SURE ANY of the pet’s personal ITEMS ARE CLEANED AND WASHED (beds/carriers/toys).
  4. To save time when you arrive at the shelter, fill out the PET PROFILE (below) for EACH pet you are bringing in. This profile is very important (please be honest) because it helps US determine the best family to place your pet with.


  • DID YOU KNOW? The average cost to SHELTER ONE pet nationally without providing ANY medical care is $225? Every day 32,000 dogs and cats are placed in animal shelters – that’s over 11 million animals a year. Add birds, small animals, reptiles and other pets and the annual number grows by millions. Over 25% of the dogs in shelters are pure bred; the rest are equally, if not more lovable, mixed breeds – affectionately referred to as “mutts”.

Before you give up your Pet we ask you to re-consider and Read the following links

A Tenant’s Guide to Keeping Your Pet & Guidelines for Property Owners

Sample Pet Resumes
Pets in Rental Housing: Myths & Realities
A Guideline for Property Owners
Sample Forms of Agreement Between Tenant & Landlord
Alternatives to Surrendering your pet to a shelter:
Telling your children that you must re-home a pet

National apartment locators:

ApartmentList.comthe world’s first apartment-matching engine. You can modify your search for just pet friendly housing by choosing the “Pet Policy” option from the “Amenities” tab at the bottom of the page

National Pet Friendly Housing Links by State

AL | AK | AZCA | CO | CT | DE | DC | FL | GA | HI | ILKSLAMD | MA | MI | MN | MS | MO | NVNY | NC | OH | OR | PASC | TN | TXVA | WACanada

Could You Give Away the Family Pet?

Why are you considering giving up your pet? What’s the problem? We can help with answers and helpful tips here

Note to deploying Military Members:
Please see Moving and Travel for possible alternatives, including foster care.

Parents who give up a child’s pets should realize that they are not only hurting the pets, they are directly hurting their children and giving them the message that family doesn’t matter.

WARNING: Free to Good Home: If you are trying to give away or re-home your family pet…please see this link before advertising your pet as “FREE TO GOOD HOME”. This is very important for the safety and well being of YOUR pet.

When Your Dog Bites – please read this if you are contacting us to surrender a pet that has a bite history, has bitten or become aggressive.

Surrendering your pet because the landlord says no? Read about YOUR legal rights!

Pitbulls – This link is meant for those seeking resources for Pit Bulls in Massachusetts.  Pit Bulls are the most common type of dog surrendered to adoption centers and found as strays. They also represent a majority of the dogs euthanized each year at shelters and animal control facilities.

Surrendering a Ferret? a list of New England Ferret Rescues

Surrendering a Rabbit? a list of New England Rabbit Rescues

Click on the links above for resources that specifically rescue/rehome these small fuzzies!

Exhaust Other Solutions First!

Are you having problems with your pet? Litter box? 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 at, 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.) 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.

Rover or Fluffy needs a new home? Don’t call the shelter – Ideas to try first

Here are a few tips to try before making that fateful trip.

  • If your pet just doesn’t fit your family or lifestyle, try to cope. Find a training club or school, read a training book, change your expectations, and try to build a bond with the animal that will keep it in your home.
  • If you bought your pet from a breeder, call him and them. Responsible breeders will ALWAYS take back a dog they produced or will have a list of people looking for an adult dog from their breeding program.
  • If your dog is purebred, contact a breed rescue. Google your breed of dog/rescue in your state – most all breeds have at least ONE breed rescue that might help or direct you. Contact the American Kennel Club or the AKC Gazette (212) 696-8390 for the list of rescue contacts it publishes each year. Rescues don’t always have room for another dog, but they may have suggestions for solving problems or may know about someone who is looking for a dog like yours.
  • If life circumstances change and force you to find a new home for your pet, use the local pet network to help is one of the best. Put posters up at the veterinarian’s office and the pet supply store; ask the groomer and boarding kennel staff to keep their ears open for a potential new home; and RESPONSIBLY advertise in the newspaper. Call your local shelters and ask if they have a referral list for potential adopters who are looking for particular pets.
  • Do not advertise “Free to a good home” even if you don’t intend to charge an adoption fee. Some people will take a free dog but may not take good care of it. Instead, advertise a cost that will meet veterinary expenses incurred while getting Fido ready for a new home. If you find a potential adopter who just can’t afford the price, you can always decrease it, but you can’t charge someone if you advertise the dog as free.
  • Make sure your pet is up-to-date on vaccinations, is spayed or neutered, and is free of parasites before placement in a new home. If the new owner will use a different veterinarian, make sure to include a copy of the pet’s health records in an adoption packet.

Good Reason or Bad Reason?

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. Behavior Solutions

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 behavioral 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 a surrender fee 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. The charge to surrender an animal is trivial compared to the well being of your pet. Please 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!

Aggressive Behavior

If your pet is showing aggressive behavior you should IMMEDIATELY contact a behaviorist. Our shelter also has a full-time, certified trainer we refer people and their pets to with behavioral issues. Please contact us our trainer Phil Bolack @  Good Dogs School of Obedience or consult with the Boston Animal Rescue League’s Center for Shelter Dogs that is staffed by a team of behaviorists.

PLEASE remember, if you are 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. There really is NO such thing as a bad pet – just a bad owner. A dog or cat takes their cues from their owners. If you let your pet climb on the couch, scratch up your furniture, chew up shoes and bark incessantly…this is NOT the fault of your pet.

My Insurance Company is Making ME Give up My DOG! Have you heard this before? Many insurance companies DO or WILL cancel a homeowner’s policy for owning what they consider an “aggressive breed”. BUT NO ONE HAS TO GIVE UP THEIR DOG! There is a solution…in Massachusetts it’s called The Fair Plan. The FAIR Plan will cover all breeds of dogs. In Massachusetts, if homeowners are denied coverage, insurance can be obtained through the state’s FAIR (Fair Access to Insurance Requirements) Plan, operated by the Massachusetts Insurance Property Underwriting Association. The FAIR Plan can be reached at Two Center Plaza, Boston, MA 02108-1904, (617) 723-3800 or (800) 392-6108, and at or contact the MSPCA Advocacy Department at (617) 522-7400.

Pit-Friendly Home Owners Insurance Policies – click here
Pit Bull Resource Site – click here