Surrendering an Animal

Before you Surrender | Documentation | What Happens Next

Before you Surrender your Pet
We understand that sometimes it's just not possible to keep a pet, but before making the decision to give up your pet, please consider all of your options. When you surrender a pet to any shelter, the transition can be difficult. Shelters are stressful environments for even the most well-adjusted animal. 

Before you make the final decision to surrender your animal, please do these things:

  • Consult a trainer or behaviorist for help with common behavioral problems.
  • Talk with your veterinarian to rule out possible medical issues your pet may be experiencing.
  • Look for an alternate place to live that accepts pets.
  • Talk with friends or family to determine if they would be able to commit to taking care of your pet.
  • Re-home your pet to a new home yourself. This transition will be much easier for your pet and will allow you to know that he is going to a good new home.

Please also consider the following advice:

  • DON'T drop your pet off in the woods or countryside, assuming that it can take care of itself. Pets lack the skills to survive on their own and may die of starvation or injury.
  • DON'T abandon your pet in a house or apartment you are moving out of, thinking that someone will eventually find it. This doesn't always happen. Often, lenders do not inspect foreclosed on homes until months after foreclosure.
  • DON'T give your pet away to a stranger. You don't know if that person is a responsible owner or even honest. Pets that end up in the wrong hands may be abused or sold to research laboratories.

If you have exhausted all other avenues, you can surrender your pet to the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter. We are an open-admission animal shelter and will accept any pet from a Santa Cruz County resident. 

Necessary Documentation

  • If you choose to relinquish ownership of your pet, we will ask for the following:  A valid form of photo ID of the owner
  • Any pertinent records pertaining to the pet (medical records, a bill of sale, etc.)
  • A completed owner surrender animal agreement and brief profile of the pet’s habits and behaviors (available at the shelter).
  • Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter requires that the pet’s actual owner relinquish custody of the animal. If you are bringing in an owned pet that is not yours, we require the animal’s actual owner to sign the animal over to Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter.

If your pet has any special food, supplies or toys, please bring those in at the time of surrender.

Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter is an open-admission shelter, meaning that we turn no animal away.


What Happens Next?
At our shelters, all animals receive necessary veterinary care, nutritious food, exercise and plenty of love and attention from our experienced staff and volunteers. Animals determined to be suitable for adoption are placed in our adoption program. There is no set time limit for how long an animal can remain in our adoption program. As long as an animal maintains general good health, a sound temperament and we have space, we will keep a pet for weeks, sometimes months. We may put some animals who are sick, underage, or who would benefit from behavioral intervention in foster care and return them to the adoption program at a later time. We work hard to give second chances to every potentially adoptable animal, and try to avoid euthanasia when appropriate and when possible.

We humanely euthanize those animals that are not candidates for adoption due to medical or behavioral problems. We also euthanize aggressive animals that are determined to be a potential threat to the community and those sick or injured animals that are we cannot rehabilitate given our resource limitations.