Surrendering an Animal - FAQ

Rivers and Bluffs Animal Shelter understands that circumstances may arise that require individuals to surrender their companion animals. Surrendering a pet is never an easy decision. We strongly encourage you to notify friends, family members, neighbors, coworkers, and acquaintances to determine if a close contact can take your pet.
Surrendering an animal is an important decision for both you and Rivers and Bluffs and should be handled in a humane manner.


Q: Do I need to have an appointment to surrender my pet?
A: Rivers and Bluffs Animal Shelter is focused on saving more lives. Surrender by appointment helps manage the inflow of animals, allowing us to decrease overcrowding and increase adoption.

Q: Why can't I just drop off my pet or abandoned animals?
A: We ask that you call and schedule an appointment. This will allow us the opportunity to gather all the information that we need in order to offer your pet the best possible outcome.

Q: What information do I need to surrender a pet?
A: The shelter needs to have all of your pets’ veterinarian records brought with you when you and your pet arrive at the shelter. 

Q: Is there paperwork I need to fill out?
A: The owner of the animal will be required to fill out a Surrender Statement. This form relinquishes the pet to the custody of Rivers and Bluffs Animal Shelter. Owners will also be asked to fill out a Surrender Profile. This profile has questions about what kind of environment your pet is used to. This information helps Rivers and Bluffs place your pet in its new home. These forms are available online and at the shelter. The paperwork takes approximately 20-40 minutes to fill out so please allow enough time to complete the forms.

Q: Is there a payment required?
A: The shelter asks for a minimum surrender donation to help offset the cost of caring for your animal while it is at the shelter waiting for a new family. Rivers and Bluffs is a non-profit organization that relies on donations. We do not receive subsidies from the city, county or state. Please help us care for your pet until we are able to find it a home.

Q: What do I do if I can’t afford the minimum surrender donation?
A: If you are unable to make a surrender donation, arrangements can be made with a manager.

Q: Can I bring my pets belongings and open food?
A: Yes you can. We will keep the animals bedding and or toys with them and use the food donated. We also accept monetary donations to help care for your pet during their stay at the shelter.

Q: How long does the shelter keep animals?
A: Our shelter is an adoption guarantee facility. As an adoption guarantee facility, we will hold on to healthy and safe animals until a home is found.

Q: Can I visit my pet after I surrender it?
A: Once the animal is surrendered to the shelter you cannot come and visit the animal. Being left at the shelter is a very hard adjustment for an animal to make. They will wait for days hoping that their family will return. Coming to see the animal only makes it harder for the animal. 

Q: Can I call to check on my pet?
A: You are welcome to call and check on a pet, but please keep in mind that once a pet is surrendered we will not give you any information on the pet that would be considered confidential. Please trust that the staff at the shelter is doing the very best job to take care of your pet. 

Q: What if I change my mind and want my pet back?

A: Occasionally, pet owners are put into a position where they have to surrender a pet to the shelter. Sometimes they find a way after they’ve surrendered that would allow them to have their pet. We will use our discretion as to whether we will return the animal back to an owner. Never surrender your pet when you are upset. If you are having difficulty with your pet’s behavior you can always call the shelter, consult your veterinarian or a professional before surrendering. Keep in mind that signing the surrender paperwork means you are signing your rights to that pet(s) to Rivers and Bluffs Animal Shelter. After the surrender form is signed the pet is Rivers and Bluffs Animal Shelter's property. 

Q: How long before my pet will be available for adoption?
A: Each pet is given 3-4 days to adjust to the shelter environment. Sometimes a pet needs more time to adjust to the shelter before it’s made available. After they have settled in, each animal must have a health assessment and a behavioral assessment. Moving an animal to the adoptable area also depends on how much room is available. 

Q: Will surrendering have an effect on my chances of adopting an animal in the future?
A: There is not a black and white answer for surrendering animals as each situation is different. Rivers and Bluffs understand that situations arise and prevent families from keeping pets sometimes. We do not discourage people from adopting in the future, but please keep in mind that we cannot guarantee that an application will be approved. 

Q: Will my pet find a good home?
A: Rest assured that our staff takes very good care of all of the animals that come into the shelter. They are all treated like they are family. Applicants are screened to make sure they will be the best fit for your pet. When you surrender a pet, the surrender profile helps us to match your pet with the perfect home. We love these animals like they are our own and we’ll do our very best to take care of them.

Q: What can I do after I surrender my pet?
A: Surrendering a pet to the shelter is a very hard decision that no one wants to be faced with. In these situations, there is seldom any 'closure.' The owner does not know where the pet will go after it is left at the shelter. There may be additional guilt associated with this type of loss. It has been shown that when grief can be expressed, the time needed for healing is often less. Similarly, if the expression of grief is restricted or withheld, the healing process may take much longer.
In addition to talking with others, to do something often helps work through our grief. By doing something positive during this time of sadness, we expand our focus by celebrating the life of the pet.

  • Activities which may help include:
  • Planting flowers or a tree in memory of the pet
  • Making a charitable donation
  • Drawing a picture, making a clay sculpture or doing needlework of something that reminds you of your pet (you could do this yourself, or have it done by a professional)
  • Placing your pet's nametag on your keyring
  • Writing a poem, song, or story
  • Composing music or a song
  • Creating a memorial photo album or scrapbook
  • Writing a letter to your pet
  • Framing a photograph