Surrendering a Pet

Explore All Your Options First

Goodbye Isn't the Only Answer

Choosing to surrender a pet is a difficult and complex decision – one that requires a great deal of thought and consideration. Although we never euthanize animals due to time or space – and we treat any manageable medical conditions – surrenders often result in a pet becoming more susceptible to illness and depression… and even losing the will to live.

So, before you consider surrendering your pet, please read through these FAQs to see if another solution would allow you to keep your four-legged family member… in your family.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to fill out any forms and bring them with me?

Yes. Please complete the cat owner surrender form or dog owner surrender form and bring it with you to the shelter with your animal.

Remember: 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.

What if my pet has significant behavioral concerns?

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.

Are there any breed-specific rescues that will take my pet?

Click here for a list of breed-specific rescues. Please contact these organizations directly if you would like to surrender you pet to them.

I CAN NO LONGER AFFORD MY PET. ARE THERE FINANCIAL ALTERNATIVES?

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. We also partner with Good Samaritan of Hamilton County to provide free pet food to those in need. Please visit www.gsnlive.org for more information.

I THINK I’VE DEVELOPED A PET ALLERGY. WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?

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 BRINGING A NEW BABY HOME SOON. WHAT IF MY PET HURTS THE BABY?

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’RE MOVING. WHAT IF I CAN’T TAKE MY PET WITH ME?

Moving shouldn’t mean having to leave your loved one behind. With a little research, it’s possible to find many pet-friendly rentals (see the FAQ section) 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 THINK I HAVE ENOUGH TIME FOR MY PET. WOULDN’T HE BE BETTER OFF SOMEWHERE ELSE?

That’s relative to what you consider “better off” to be. 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… 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.

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

DOES IT COST ANYTHING 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.

This means we receive no county funding for pets surrendered by residents of these areas. In the event we accept a surrendered pet from a non-Hamilton County resident, there will be a fee.*

*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.

Who Can Surrender a Pet?

HSHC only accepts pets surrendered (Owner Releases) from residents of Hamilton County. If you would like to surrender your pet, we ask that you contact us at (317) 773-4974 to make arrangements. Be sure to come prepared with vaccination records to help expedite the processing of your pet.  Please note we do not accept Owner Released/Surrendered Pets on Saturdays or Sundays after 11:30 a.m.  

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 utilize, our services.

This means we receive no county funding for pets surrendered by residents of these areas. When the shelter is at capacity, we reserve the right to not accept owner surrendered pets from the residents of Arcadia, Cicero, Sheridan and Atlanta.

When space and resources permit, we may accept owner surrendered animals from non-Hamilton County residents. We receive no funding for animals accepted from non-Hamilton County residents, therefore a surrender fee is required*

*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 Release”.

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 $45.00 “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 $10 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 $10.00 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 meaningful options for your pet’s body care. We offer the option to either have your pet individually cremated or a communal cremation. Paw prints and name plate keep sakes are also available for purchase. For more information on this process and fees, please contact us at (317) 773-4974.

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.