All of us get a pet, thinking we're going to keep it for life. Then sometimes your life changes drastically, and for family, job, housing or money reasons you can no longer keep your dog. As hard as it seems to do, it is possible to find a great new home for it. With time, patience and careful screening of new families, your mind will be put at ease. There are many ways to adopt out your dog before you have to even consider the animal shelter. You can put the word out there on your own or use a rescue group based on your dog's breed. Either way, the most important thing is to take the time to really find that new family that your dog will be calling its own.
Try putting the word out yourself. You can put free ads online in the Pennysaver, the Recycler and Petfinder, as well as your local newspaper. Post a picture of your dog and a brief description of it and the type of home where your dog would do best. You want to include some of information--like if your dog likes kids, great on the leash or going on hikes, good or bad with cats and dogs, or if it's better off in a quieter household or apartment. Don't forget important facts like whether your dog is housetrained, fixed and up-to-date with shots. Your description is what will draw people in. Honesty is best, too. If your dog is protective or a barker, you want to let people know. Of course, the most easy-going, beautiful and purebred dogs will find a new home the quickest. But even a quirky dog has a chance.
Let the ads run a few weeks and renew them when they come up for renewal. You should give yourself at least a month to try and find a decent home for your dog. Even if it takes a while to get a few phone calls, it is only going to take one person to say yes, and the adoption will be finished.
Post flyers at pet shops and stores. People like to check those bulletin boards out for new potential pets. Make sure to add a reasonable adoption fee, to assure that the new family is serious about keeping your dog. If you advertise a "free dog," you might get it adopted faster, but sometimes you can be sending your dog into unsavory circumstances. Once you get to know a potential family, you can always choose to waive the adoption fee, if you feel your dog will be in safe hands.
Check out rescue groups based on your dog's breed. You can do a Google.com search of "poodle rescues" for instance, and come up with a whole lot of helpful people. You can also check out Petfinder.com under your breed, and many rescues will come up based on your zip code. Usually you can list your dog with these rescues for free and they sometimes have foster homes available to take your dog in if you have to give it up quickly.
Consider your local humane society or a no-kill shelter. These should be last resorts, but at least if you leave your dog in one of these places, you know it won't be euthanized, even though it's in a cage. You might ask family or friends for temporary housing while you're still waiting for adoption before using the shelter. Smaller dogs, and purebred dogs, have a better chance in the shelter, while big dogs are usually the last to be adopted.