It breaks your heart to give up Fido, but you may not have a choice. Perhaps you're no longer able to care for him due to circumstances out of your control. Whatever the reason, no need to feel guilty. With some effort, you can find him a loving new home.
Ask Everybody You Know
Wouldn't it give you peace of mind to turn Fido over to somebody you already know and trust? So start asking friends, relatives and co-workers if they'd be interested in adopting your wonderful dog. Don't rule out contacting casual acquaintances as potential adopters -- such as your neighbors, butcher and yoga instructor -- your furry friend might be the perfect companion they've been searching for. Don't neglect those who've worked with your pup -- your vet, dog groomer and trainer know hundreds of dog lovers, and one of them just might be his future soul mate.
Get the Word Out
Social networking is an effective way to inform people that Fido is up for adoption. Facebook, Twitter and other networking sites allow you to reach hundreds of potential adopters with just one click. It's also free to post ads on Craigslist, a highly trafficked website. With a little creativity, you can reach many people in your community by creating a poster with your four-legged friend's cutest photo, along with a list of his most endearing qualities. Hang the posters throughout your community in places such as gyms, health clubs, groceries stores and laundromats. And don't forget about the classified section of your local newspaper -- although placing an ad is usually not free, it may find your pup his new owner.
Only place your pup in a shelter as a last resort. Even if you manage to locate one that has a "no-kill" rule, he could still spend his remaining years in the miserable conditions of a kennel. But If you have no other options, visit several kennels to learn which is the lesser evil. Keep in mind that only the cutest, healthiest, friendliest and youngest pooches are usually adopted -- if your dog is older or has health problems, the odds against him being adopted are even more stacked. To find a shelter and animal care agencies, use the interactive databases at The Shelter Pet Project and the ASPCA (see Resources).
For peace of mind, interview all prospective adopters in their home to learn if Fido will be adopted into a responsible family. Ask about their experiences with previous pets and how they deal with behavioral problems, to make sure they don't use inhumane disciplinary techniques. Don't allow a potential adopter to keep your dog if he refuses to allow you into his home. In some cases, individuals acquire pets to sell to animal dealers who turn them over to institutions that conduct animal experiments, according to the Humane Society of the United States. If your pup bites or is aggressive, consult with an animal behaviorist before exposing him to another family. Always disclose any behavioral problems to any potential owner.