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Home / Articles / Columnists / Dog World with Tina /  Fateful Surrender
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Thursday, April 4,2019

Fateful Surrender

By Tina Valant-Siebelts  
Every day unwanted pets are turned loose to fend for themselves. These former family members die from poison, getting hit by cars, or starvation. Survivors may sustain painful injuries from fights, wildlife or vehicles. Many are intact (not spayed/neutered) which results in more unwanted litters. The LUCKY ones are surrendered at shelters and to rescues every day. Yes, you read that right.


Before you judge, and say “How could they?” or think “I hate people,” get the whole story. Reasons to surrender include unmanageable behavior, changes in living/financial conditions, or people realizing they bit off far more than they could chew with a puppy or active breed. Yes, people shirk the lifelong responsibility they took when they acquired the furry family member. The reality of life is, things change. Couples break up, people lose jobs, have accidents, get sick, are no longer able to care for/ provide for the pet, or even die. Is it in the dog’s best interest to saddle the owner/surviving family with guilt and responsibility, or put the dog’s needs first? Take two cases I was a part of last month:

A young Australian Shepherd was in need of placement. Less than a year old, he originated from a puppy mill, probably taken from his mom and littermates too early. While at the puppy store, he got sick. Rather than invest in antibiotics and care, they elected to euthanize. The reputable vet instead had the store sign the pup over, relinquishing ownership and financial responsibility. The veterinary clinic restored his health. A staff member’s family adopted him. For a while, things were great. But the pup got very possessive over his family, and aggressively went after visitors. A painful decision was needed, due to his unpredictable behavior. The family could not risk injury to visitors or neighbors. A heart-wrenching choice had to be made.

I have always been an animal (especially dogs) magnet. We met outside, a few houses away from “his” territory. If he was 25 percent Australian Shepherd, that would be a generous estimate. I don’t care what the papers say, when you get a dog from a puppy mill or backyard breeder – there is NO TELLING what you’re actually getting. BUYER BEWARE. He had a soft muzzle on the entire time. Even though I never made direct eye contact, kept my voice low and body language calm, I had no doubt. He wanted to kill me. He failed evaluation, and was not a candidate for rescue. I had ONE long shot, and made a call to a fellow rescuer. She was up for a challenge. It was a miracle that this dog dodged a bullet – again. He is making some progress, but will most likely never be put up for adoption.


A friend alerted me about a German Shepherd in need of rehoming about a month ago. The owner was trying to rehome the dog herself, and wasn’t having much luck. I went to evaluate and photograph this sweet guy. Underweight, he had a terrible stench and skin condition. I didn’t see a flea or tick, or flea dirt; I suspected severe food allergies. I contacted Southwest Florida German Shepherd Rescue. With my evaluation, photos and transport assistance, they agreed to accept him. After a long drive he landed in a wonderful foster home, experienced in canine nutrition. He has been vetted, and will be up for adoption after he gains some weight and gets neutered. He has a bright and happy future ahead.

I hope you never have to surrender a pet. Avoid future liability and make sure the pet finds the absolute best home possible. Is the dog a purebred? Most likely there is a breed rescue group. NEVER give "free to good home."If you know someone who has to surrender a pet, be kind, and help them. Here is why you ALWAYS want to deal with a reputable rescue or shelter:

1. Do you have a process to properly screen adoptive candidates?

2. Do you know how to do a proper background check?

3. Do you know why it’s important to get an application and adoption fee?

4. Will you do a pre-adoption home visit AND follow up?

5. Are you objective enough to put the dog’s BEST interest ahead of everyone else?

6. Do you have a waiver and release of liability?

7. Is the dog up to date on vaccinations, spayed/ neutered and temperament-tested?


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