Dogs Trust

Giving up your dog

Giving up my dog FAQ

Answers to commonly asked questions on the process to give up your dog

Giving up your dog FAQs

Is giving up my dog free?

Yes. Giving up your dog to Dogs Trust is free. It won’t cost you a penny.

Where can I give up my dog for adoption?

Dogs Trust has rehoming centres all over the UK and in Ireland. An appointment can be made for you quickly, if needed. Please call our fully-trained team on 0300 303 2188 or contact us


Can I give up my dog to Dogs Trust?

We welcome all kinds of dogs. We are not breed specific, and generally look for dogs that have a good temperament and are able to share kennels. We welcome dogs that have manageable health conditions too. Our expertise in canine behaviour also ensures that we try our best to work with dogs who may have behavioural issues so that they can be found a suitable home in the future.

Rest assured that if your life hits a bump in the road and you can no longer care for your dog, for whatever reason, we will be pleased to talk to you. We are committed to ensuring as many dogs find their forever home as possible. Please call us on 0300 303 2188 or contact us.


How do I give up my dog to Dogs Trust?

Firstly call 0300 303 2188  or contact our contact centre who can listen and help. If we think we can help you we’ll arrange an appointment with your local Dogs Trust centre.

What options will you give me when I contact you?

When you contact us, we’ll ask a few questions about your dog and the reason they need a new home; this helps us to work out if a rehoming centre is the right place for your dog.

The rehoming centre will usually talk to you before you come for your appointment. For some people, we are able to give advice on managing the issue that has led to the dog needing a new home and this can change the situation for them.

If you still need to find your dog a new home, we’ll invite you to the rehoming centre so you can introduce your dog to us – we call this a pre-intake assessment. We may be able to fit your dog in for a pre-intake assessment the next day, but sometimes it can take a few days.

What happens at a pre-intake assessment?

At a pre-intake assessment, our training and behaviour staff will talk to you about your dog’s likes and dislikes. They will usually take them for a short walk to see how they react around other dogs and people. All this information helps us to decide if your dog is going to be happy in kennels.

At the end of the pre-intake assessment, we will let you know if we are able to take your dog. Usually we will arrange for you to bring your dog to us in a few days’ time, when a kennel has become available; however, on rare occasions, we may be able to take your dog straight away. In case this happens, we ask that you come to your pre-intake assessment with your dog’s veterinary history, vaccination card, microchip details (which need to be up to date on the relevant microchip database) and any favourite toys, blankets and bedding the dog has. This will help them to feel more comfortable during the assessment as well.


Will you definitely take my dog?

Our aim is to find a new home for every dog that needs one. Our kennels are often full and many dogs need special support and training from our staff to help them overcome their fears and worries. This limits the number of dogs we are able to help so you may have to wait a while for a suitable space to become available.

Some dogs just aren’t cut out for kennel life. If we think your dog will be unhappy in kennels, then we will talk to you about what options there are. We have a small number of volunteers who care for dogs in their own homes, we call this our Home from Home foster scheme. Places are limited so there can be a wait until a suitable foster home is available.

I want to give up an aggressive dog. Can you help?

We take all kinds of dogs in and if your dog is a little unfriendly to other dogs, we may be able to help once a kennel is available. Usually our dogs share kennels, so waiting for a single occupancy kennel may take a little time. We have dedicated behavioural support but, to do this properly, we can only take in so many dogs with certain behavioural issues at a time if we’re to give them the best level of care. If your dog has a behavioural issue there may be a slightly longer wait.

If your dog really doesn’t like other dogs and reacts aggressively, then a rehoming centre may not be the best place for them. We have a duty to protect the welfare of all dogs in our care and putting a dog into a situation where they have to be near other dogs that they don’t like is extremely stressful for them. We don’t want to make your dog miserable. In these situations, we can offer advice on how you can manage your dog’s behaviour and recommend that you speak to your vet regarding getting a referral to a behaviour expert.

We also have a duty of care towards our staff, volunteers and adopters, so if your dog is aggressive towards people, it is very unlikely that a rehoming centre is the right place for your dog. We recommend you speak to your vet.

I don’t live near a Dogs Trust centre. Can I go to another shelter?

We accept dogs from all over the UK but we appreciate that not everyone is able to bring their dog to a Dogs Trust rehoming centre. If you feel we are just too far for you, then you may wish to look for a local, reputable, rehoming organisation. We recommend that you only use an organisation that is a member of the Association of Dog and Cats Homes, so that you know they meet the minimum animal welfare standards required by legislation and the charity sector and will take proper care of your dog. You can find a list of member organisations at ADCH

What do I do when the contact centre is closed and I want to give my dog up?

Unfortunately we are unable to operate an out of hours service.

If you find yourself in an emergency situation after hours, then you are best to seek advice from your local dog warden. You can usually find their contact details on your local council website.


What will happen to my dog once they’re in your care?

Once in our care, all dogs receive a full health check from an independent, fully qualified veterinary surgeon. Using the information you have provided, we tailor the care to each of the dogs we look after; nutritious meals, multiple opportunities to exercise, appropriate toys and plenty of snuggles with our amazing staff and volunteers. Should your dog have any behavioural issues, our behaviour experts will assess them and put in place a training plan or behaviour modification programme to help them overcome their issues.

Whilst all this is going on, we will start the search for a new home. All adopters are vetted by our trained staff and we work to find the right match between an adopter’s lifestyle and the dog’s needs. We want your dog, and their adopter, to be happy for life. And that’s why we provide post-adoption support to all our adopters for life, regardless of how many years they have owned their dog.

Will I be able to find out what happens to my dog?

Once your dog is in our care, you are welcome to contact us every now and then for updates on how they are doing. For some people, this will be comforting, but for others this can be upsetting. Only you can make the judgement as to what is the right approach for you. Giving up your dog can be like going through a grieving process.  

If you are struggling with accepting the decision you have made, then talking to organisations like the Samaritans or Mind can help you deal with your loss.


What if I change my mind?

Once you have given your dog to us, you sign a legal document passing all ownership rights to us. If you think you have made the wrong decision, then please get in touch with us straight away. We can help you to look at why you wanted to find a new home for the dog in the first place, what has changed and how you can help ensure that both you and the dog are happy for life.

If we are satisfied that you made the wrong decision or your situation has changed, then we will return the dog to your care.

We always act in the best interests of the dog and we take our legal duty of care to the dogs entrusted to us very seriously. If we think you are going to struggle to look after your dog, then we will advise you of this and your dog may not be returned. We always do our best to avoid this situation by talking through the options with you in the initial pre-intake assessment and being clear on the legal responsibility we have.

Once a dog has been adopted, there is nothing we can do to get the dog back, as we transfer legal ownership of the dog to the adopter.

It’s very important that you think carefully before giving your dog to any rehoming charity or other person, as you may not be able to reverse that decision.

Can I visit my dog after I’ve given them up?

We do not recommend visits to dogs by their previous owners. Seeing a previous owner can be very distressing for a dog and equally distressing for their previous owner. Experience has taught us that there are no benefits for the dog or person in continuing to see each other after their dog has been handed to us or rehomed.

For this reason, we respectfully ask you to refrain from visiting the rehoming centre after giving up your dog. You are welcome to phone or email us to get updates on their progress, if you think this will be beneficial to you.

Will you put my dog to sleep if you can’t find a home?

Here at Dogs Trust, we are here for every dog, for as long as it takes. We want to see the day when no dog dies from unnecessary destruction, and we will never put a healthy dog to sleep. If we can’t find them a new forever home or there are reasons why they can’t be rehomed they will always have a home with us. You only have to look at some of our sponsor dogs to see that dogs that can’t be rehomed are very happy in our wonderful centres.

How long will the dog be with you before they are rehomed?

Typically dogs are in our care for around seven days before they can be rehomed. Most dogs take around a month to find their new home. Some dogs can take a lot longer; like Red Ted, who found himself at our Shoreham Rehoming Centre and after waiting patiently, found his forever home after 756 days.

Can I find out who adopted my dog? Can I get updates from them?

Both for data protection reasons and because it can cause more upset to you, we do not give the details of adopters to previous owners. Generally, we are unable to ask for updates for you. We call all adopters 48 hours after adoption and, if the adopter has chosen to access our free post adoption support service, we will phone again at two weeks and four months post adoption. If you contact us after these calls, we are happy to give you updates but we are unable to request photos or ask for further information from adopters.

It’s an emergency, can you take my dog now?

We do our very best to help people and their dogs who find themselves in an emergency situation. If you find yourself unable to keep your dog, then please get in touch with us on 0300 303 2188 as soon as you can. The more notice we have, the more likely we are able to help.

In very rare circumstances, we may be able to take your dog in on the same day if we have a kennel space free, so please give a call to discuss your situation.

I’m going through a crisis, can you look after my dog until I’m back on my feet?

We care for over 15,000 dogs a year but there are still many more dogs at risk of unnecessary destruction that we want to help. We have to prioritise our limited kennel space for dogs who find themselves without an owner and so are at an increased risk of euthanasia. This means our rehoming centres are unable to provide temporary care for dogs whose owners are looking for a boarding solution.

If you find yourself in this situation:

  • For the elderly and terminally ill, the Cinnamon Trust may be able to provide support.
  • If you are a victim of domestic abuse, then the Freedom Project may be able to support you and your dog.
  • A local private boarding establishment or dog sitter may be able to assist you.