Surrendering a Pet

Explore All Your Options First

Before You Say Goodbye

We understand this is a difficult decision, and it is one that requires a great deal of thought and consideration.  But before you decide to say goodbye, it’s important to consider a few things:

  1.  Although we never euthanize animals due to time or space – and we treat any manageable medical conditions – surrendered pets, especially seniors, often decline quickly.  The stress of shelter life, along with the loss of their person/family, has devastating emotional impact on surrendered pets. So while we never give up on the animals in our care, sometimes they do.
  2. If you’re planning to move, there are many rental properties that allow pets of all sizes and breeds. Please see our FAQ’s and other resources for a list of pet friendly rental properties.
  3. If you’re dealing with financial hardship–let us help you. There are many resources like free pet food and supplies to discounted medical care that will help you weather the storm.

But if you have no other options, we accept pets from Hamilton County residents at no charge 365 days a year.  We ask that you please take a moment to review the FAQ’s below.  There may be a way we can help you and your pet stay together. *Note that some fees may apply for Hamilton County residents residing in area that have chosen not to utilize our services.

For a free behavior consultation, please email behavior@hamiltonhumane.com or call (317) 219-3342.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can surrender a pet to you?

The Humane Society for Hamilton County has an open admission, no-fee policy for residents of Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, Carmel or the jurisdiction of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department.

Pet owners who want to surrender their pets that live in Cicero, Arcadia, Sheridan or Atlanta may be asked to pay a fee since those areas have either opted out of, or only partially contract, to use our services.

*Fees vary based on an animal’s medical needs, whether they have been spayed or neutered and their behavior concerns. Contact the shelter for more information.

NOTE: If an animal has been in your possession for 30 days or more, by law, that animal belongs to you and is considered an “Owner Surrender.”

What does it cost to surrender my pet?

If you reside within Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, Carmel or the jurisdiction of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department, there is no fee to surrender your pet.

Pet owners who want to surrender their pets who live in Cicero, Arcadia, Sheridan or Atlanta may be asked to pay a fee since those areas have either opted out of, or only partially utilize, our services.

*Fees vary based on an animal’s medical needs, whether they have been spayed or neutered and their behavior concerns. Contact the shelter for more information.

Do I need to fill out any forms in advance and/or make an appointment?

Yes. Please complete the cat owner surrender form or dog owner surrender form and bring it with you to the shelter with your animal. If available, please bring your pet’s vaccination records to help expedite the process.

You will also need to have ID and/or proof of residency in Hamilton County.

We ask that you contact us at (317) 773-4974 to schedule a surrender appointment so we can ensure you won’t need to wait.  However, an appointment is not required.

Please note we do not accept Owner Released/ Surrendered Pets on Saturdays or Sundays after 11:30 a.m.  

Can you help me keep my pet if I’m having financial challenges or issues with their behavior?

Yes!

If you’d like to talk with us about alternatives that may allow you to keep your pet, please call our behavioral specialist at (317) 219-3342 or email us at behavior@hamiltonhumane.com.

Click here to see a list of free services and other resources available to help keep your pet with you.

How do I handle cat behavior/allergy issues?

We have put together a comprehensive list of ways to address common cat behavior/allergy concerns such as:

  • Going outside the litter box
  • Affection biting
  • Scratching the furniture
  • Not getting along with another cat in the home
  • Hides all the time
  • I think I’m allergic

How do I handle dog behavior issues?

We have put together a comprehensive list of ways to address common dog behavior concerns such as:

  • Too much to handle (too strong, can’t walk the dog, jumps up and dog knocks me down, too active)
  • Barks too much
  • Doesn’t get along with other dogs in the home
  • Doesn’t get along with new dogs at parks/on walks
  • Too mouthy
  • Housetraining/Accidents in the home
  • We’re having a baby, what now?
  • Aggression toward people

What if my pet has significant behavioral concerns or has even bitten someone?

Most concerns — including aggression, separation anxiety, obedience challenges, barking, stranger fear, dominance, jealousy, house training, and many others – can be addressed. And we can help!

Please call our behavioral specialist at (317) 219-3342 or email us at behavior@hamiltonhumane.com.

I can no longer afford my pet. Is there any free assistance for pet needs and care?

Pet care can be unexpectedly expensive. If your pet is in need of medical care that you can’t afford – or if you need a lower cost or alternative solution to surrender – we’d like to help. Please call us at (317) 773-4974.

Please also review other free services and resources available to you including free pet food and discounted medical care.

I think I’m developing an allergy to my pet. What can I do?

Allergies are a common concern for pet owners, but your pet isn’t always the culprit. A simple blood test can determine whether you’re allergic to your furry friend… or to something else in your environment. And even if you are allergic to pet dander, many animals and allergy sufferers find ways to live together in harmony. Visit www.webmd.com/allergies/features/how-pets-allergies-can-go-hand-in-paw for more information.

We’re having a baby. How do we safely introduce our dog/cat?

New babies in the family cause many unnecessary animal surrenders. Please consider that your pet and your baby can happily co-exist… and might even become lifelong best friends. These articles help explain the benefits of having a kid and pet-friendly household:

www.healthland.time.com/2012/07/09/study-why-dogs-and-cats-make-babies-healthier

www.positively.com/2011/10/06/introducing-pets-to-new-babies

We have to move to a rental property or apartment and most don’t take pets. What are my options?

Moving shouldn’t mean having to leave your loved one behind. With a little research, it’s possible to find many pet-friendly rentals  wherever you’re going.

Pets who are surrendered because of a move historically suffer both physically and emotionally. We can help you find another alternative.

I just don’t have enough time for my pet. I have to crate them all day while I’m at work. Wouldn’t they be better off with someone else?

Even if you feel you don’t spend enough time with your pet, or you travel too much, or they’re alone too many hours of the day, even in a crate… a loving home with you may still be the best alternative depending on the situation.

A senior pet, for example, will not fare well in a shelter environment. If they could speak, they’d tell you they would rather wait for you to get home than go through the stress, depression and long wait it may take to find a new home.  And as long as you’re pet is crate trained and not crated more than your work day hours, they’ll be ok.

So please, before you surrender a pet due to lack of time, contact us for other possible solutions.

What do I do if I find a stray animal in Hamilton County?

Please bring the animal to HSHC any time during our administrative or adoption hours. For strays found after hours, please contact your local law enforcement agency via their non-emergency line.  If possible and safe to do so, you may also keep the animal over night and bring them to us the next day when we open at 8AM.

How do I get my lost pet back if he is at your facility?

In the event your pet is not microchipped or wearing identification, it is important to bring proof of ownership such a photos or vet records in case there are any questions or disputes regarding ownership.

We require a $45 “Return to Owner” Fee when returning a lost pet to his owner. This fee helps cover our processing expenses. All animals returned to their owners are microchipped (if not already) and receive vaccinations (depending on how long they have been at the shelter.)

There is a $15 per day fee for each additional day your pet remains in our care up to 7 days. After 7 days, an adoption fee may apply.

What happens if my pet is housed at the shelter for a bite quarantine or seized by Animal Control?

HSHC charges a $15 per day fee to maintain any animal brought in by Animal Control under quarantine conditions or any other circumstance where the owner is in default of their adoption contract, county ordinances/state law pertaining to domestic animals or the owner has been arrested and your pet has been seized for safe-keeping.

This fee will be charged to the owner or authorized representative prior to release of the animal when and if a return is deemed appropriate by Animal Control.

Note that any additional fees incurred by HSHC during your pet’s time at the shelter under any of these circumstances, such as treatment for illness or injury, will be passed onto the pet owner as well.

Do you euthanize pets for the public?

No.

This is not a service we are able to provide. Please contact your veterinarian to make arrangements for your pet’s peaceful passing. If you have an emergency situation, feel free to contact us for guidance at (317) 773-4974.

Do you offer pet cremation services?

Yes.

We partner with Pet Angel Memorial Center to provide dignified and affordable options for your pet’s body care.  If your pet passes away, you can bring your baby to our facility where our compassionate team will help you through the process.

We offer the option to either have your pet individually cremated or a communal cremation. Urns and a variety of keepsakes like paw prints are also available for purchase. For more information call (317) 773-4974 or come in during our hours of operation.  No appointment is necessary.

Love & Let Live

Every animal deserves a second chance at love — and life. We invite you to be part of the solution and give back to the animals who give us so much.