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Surrendering your pet: What you need to know

Pets Rehome Surrender
With so many cute kittens, adorable puppies and fluffy guinea pigs looking for new homes, it can be hard to resist adopting a new furry family member. However, a new pet needs more than just a litter box and a few treats.

We all absolutely adore our pets, but sometimes there can be unexpected problems that arise which may result in us thinking about surrendering our pets to the RSPCA. 

The RSPCA and Liquid Interactive have partnered together to construct an online portal that provides people with helpful solutions to their pet problems before owners decide to continue with the surrender process.

Top 5 reasons why pets were surrendered to the RSPCA in 2016/2017
  1. Unwanted litter
  2. People can't afford to look after their pets 
  3. Moving home/ travelling
  4. Last of litter
  5. Owner has ill health
Snap shot of pet surrenders over the past 5 years
  • In 2012, the main reason people surrendered their pets was because they were moving house, and in 2017, the top reason for people surrendering their pets is because of unwanted litters. Perhaps this shift could mean that Landlords are generally more flexible in allowing pets in rentals and the number of those moving interstate or overseas has decreased. However, the increase in unwanted litters means that owners aren’t getting their pets desexed. For more information on desexing your pets, visit Operation Wanted.
  • Since 2012, people are more aware of the costs of having a pet. This is great news! There has been a significant decrease in the number of surrendered pets whose owners can’t afford to look after them.
  • Stats show that in 2012, there were many pets surrendered because owners didn’t have enough time for their pets. This meant they suffered from behavioural and socialisation issues due to insufficient training and attention. Good news is that those figures have significantly dropped. People are spending more time with their pets which helps with their overall behaviour.
The process of surrendering a pet to the RSPCA

The process when surrendering a pet to the RSPCA is:

  1. Owners go to the Surrender Portal. This is where customers are able to find some helpful solutions to their pet problems before going through the surrender process
  2. An appointment is made. If the customer is sure that they need to surrender the pet, they then make an appointment with the RSPCA where the staff assess the situation
  3. The customer will then fill in a lengthy survey including all the details about their pet
  4. The surrender application is then revised and approved by RSPCA staff
  5. The owner will then sign the pet over to the RSPCA
  6. The customer’s pet will then be Vet checked and will go through a behavioural assessment
  7. The pet will go up for adoption dependent on Vet and behavioural assessment

Please note there is a 24 hour ‘cooling off’ period for those who regret their decision to surrender their pet and should come back into the shelter immediately to discuss further options.

Alternatives to the surrender portal

The Surrender Portal is an online self-help tool with advice about alternative solutions for people wanting to surrender their pets. Liquid Interactive discovered that search terms and phrases used by owners, when requesting help online began with ‘I love my dog/cat/pet, but…’, and it was from this that the Surrender Portal began to take shape.

The RSPCA Surrender Portal reduces the amount of animal surrenders, it reduces the guilt that owners may have when enquiring about surrendering their pet and it also reduces the number of calls to the shelter regarding pet surrenders which frees up time for other enquiries.

If you are looking to surrender your pet, click here to view the RSPCA Surrender Portal.

How the surrender portal has helped the RSPCA

The Surrender Portal has had amazing success within the first year of its release:

  • There has been 22% fewer surrenders from 2016-2017
  • Each pet that is surrendered to the RSPCA costs about $25/day to care for and the surrender portal have saved the RSPCA an estimated $800,000 in animal care costs
  • For every 9.59 views on the Surrender Portal, there was one pet owner that changed their mind about surrendering their pet

Who built the surrender portal?

Our partners at Liquid Interactive have created a user-friendly information portal that asks pet owners to input the type of animal they own and select the issues they are experiencing (i.e. my dog won’t stop barking) which then provides helpful and creative solutions in relation to the problems they are experiencing.

The Portal encourages people to consider the alternatives before surrendering their pet.


*Data and statistics are based from RSPCA Qld data from 20th October to 19th October for 2015/2016, 2016/2017 and 2011/2012. $800,000 savings were based on a $25 per day average animal care cost and average days animals stayed in the shelter. 

Rhiannon Smith
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