Athletes help reduce owner surrenders at Valley Animal Center


We are excited to share that we have been awarded a $1,000 grant from Athletes for Animals, an organization that strives to connect athletes nationwide with a shared passion for animals. They help spread information about responsible pet ownership, raise funds, and provide grants to support animal welfare organizations.

With this grant, we will be able to tackle one of our biggest problems surrounding our adoptables this past year: owner surrenders. Thanks to their generosity, we have funds that will allow us to print and create an Owner Surrender Prevention Packet.

As many may know, the Central Valley has been facing a serious pet overpopulation problem, and here at Valley Animal Center, we believe we can make an impact by using a multipronged approach that includes:

  • Increasing education about spaying and neutering and how to access these services
  • Uniting more dogs and cats with loving people
  • Providing comprehensive veterinary care and vaccinations at our low-cost clinic
  • Increasing education about how to be responsible pet owners

While an increase of adoptions helps reduce the stray population, we are sad to share that this past year, we have seen an increase of owner surrenders. Our animal care associates are try to educate our adopters about the commitment it takes to adopt a dog or cat. There are many reasons why owners return animals, and one reason may be that they are not fully prepared for the challenges associated with adopting a rescue. For example, when a pet is rescued from an animal control agency or they are surrendered back into our care, they can be further traumatized, potentially causing them to become less adoptable.

“Their whole world shifts when they are returned to a shelter,” our animal care operations supervisor, Maritza Lopez, said, “and it messes up their psychological way of dealing with things. They can become very high-stress dogs.”

Although they can develop destructive behaviors due to stressful situations, Maritza said “they can be snapped out of it” granted that their new adopter understands that adopting a rescue animal is a process. We are never too sure what conditions the animals are accustomed to, and it can take up to 3 to 6 months for a dog or cat to feel comfortable in a new home with new surroundings.

In an effort to reduce the number of owner surrenders in the future, we wish to develop an educational packet, the Owner Surrender Prevention Packet, which will include information on potential issues with the adoptee, the cost of caring for an animal, training tips for dealing with problems that arise, and a resource list. Thanks to the A4A grant, we are also able to include training treats in each packet to help motivate good behavior with positive reinforcement.

An example of the helpful tips we will provide in the packet include how to crate train your pet. Crate training can help provide a safe space for a dog that just got out of a shelter environment. The packet will also include a puppy bingo card to help mark certain milestones. It can be used as a guide for owners as they help their puppies grow to become healthy dogs.

“The packet is a start,” Maritza said. “Besides only giving them a folder with information that we are available to them, we can work together on anything to help decrease an animal’s chances of being returned to a shelter environment.”

At Valley Animal Center, we offer plenty of services that help with an animal’s transition from a shelter to your home, including affordable dog training.

We urge any new adopter to take the time to review the information provided in the packet and to understand there is no such thing as “the perfect dog/cat.” With love and patience, any person can have a new best friend. Please do not give up so easily and be mindful of your new pet; do not overstimulate them too early in the transition process and take time introducing them to new places and people. Finally, always reach out to us for guidance.

Again, we thank A4A for an incredible opportunity!

Valley Animal Center is dedicated to serving animal companions in the Central Valley and beyond. Our mission is to unite dogs and cats with loving people. We believe every animal deserves a loving family and furever home. Donate to support our endless mission as we care for hundreds of homeless dogs and cats.