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West Highland TerrierSurrender FAQ    

What if I can't keep my dog?

While obtaining a dog should be done with the same devotion as bringing a child into the world, the reality is sometimes life brings us little surprises Ė not all of them happy. If something has happened in your life and you can no longer keep your small dog, SOS DOGS is here to find a new home for your dog. While we primarily rehome Yorkies, Bichon Frise, Maltese and Westies, we will also try to help with other small pure breeds that are under 20 lbs.

How do I tell you about my dog?

In order for SOS DOGS to rehome your dog, we must have information on the dog and legal permission to do so. The information that we need is given to us a SURRENDER form which is printable from this website under FORMS AND APPLICATIONS.  This one ďformĒ includes three pages: the Surrender Agreement, the Dog for Adoption Form, and an information page to be given to the adopter. We also request a picture and all paperwork and medical records pertaining to the dog.

  • The Surrender Agreement is the legal surrender of the dog to SOS DOGS. This makes SOS DOGS the legal owner and gives us the legal right to then adopt the dog to new owners.
  • The Dog for Adoption form contains the basic information we need to know enough about the dog to find the right home. The age, sex, breed, medical status, behavior, like and dislikes and personality are all important, as is the type of home the dog has experienced in the past. A dog who is used to children might want a new home with children. A dog who is used to being alone while the owner works can go to a working home, while a dog who has never been alone cannot. We ask all the questions; all you have to do is fill in the answers.
  • The information page asks similar questions, but this page goes to the new owner. It asks questions like whether or not the dog is used to sleeping in a bed, jumping on furniture, if s/he likes baths, on and on. Whatever will help the new owner to "get to know" the dog quicker is the goal here.
  • A photo of the dog is highly desirable. People are reluctant to commit to an adoption without at least seeing the dog, and a photo makes the process go faster and the adopter feel more comfortable.
  • Medical records and all other paperwork pertaining to the dog should be included with these forms. It should all be mailed as directed on the form.
  • A donation is appreciated, but not mandatory.

How do I get the information to you?

All of these above noted papers need to be mailed to us. If you want to expedite the process, you can first email us a picture and some information. That will get us started quickly. However, you still need to mail us the entire package. Our mailing address is on the form itself.

How do you find a home?

Once we received the signed Surrender Agreement, legally giving us the right to place your dog, we will immediately survey our applicants to find the right home for your dog. SOS DOGS has nearly 200 applicants ready and waiting for dogs. We take only applicants who have a vet history, no large dogs and no small children, both of whom can hurt a small dog.

We will also post the dog, the description, picture and type of home wanted on our website which brings in new applicants who have to meet the same strict criteria for acceptance.

What do you do to insure the new home is a good one?

MalteseFirst, we speak to their vet about the care they gave/have given current or previous animals: Were all shots, etc., maintained? Was the dog in for teeth cleaning and other extras? Were there any injuries indicating neglect? If their dog died of an illness, did they take every step to provide care for the dog while ill, like surgery, chemotherapy, whatever? In other words, we're looking for the exceptional home that goes all out for their dog, indicating they feel the dog is a member of the family. Once there is vet approval, we move to the next step.

Next, we do a home inspection, looking for safety and cleanliness. We check fence safety (and donít approve homes with invisible fences that employ shock collars). We look for doors that donít close fast enough, thereby letting a little dog slip out. We check for safety in the home, including small objects that a dog can choke on, railings or steps that are dangerous, etc. We look for dangerous chemicals at dog level, on and on. There is a detailed six page checklist that the home inspector follows.

We also sometimes talk to the neighbors on either side of the home, making sure the home is quiet and safe and there are no issues where a neighbor thinks a small dog might be in any danger. In other words, we do our homework to make sure this is a safe, loving home for your dog.

How do you know that adopters will be good to my dog?

Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. This is why we require a vet history and do not adopt to first time pet owners or people with inadequate vet histories. We ask the vet if s/he recommends this home for a new small dog.

The adopter also signs a very extensive contract (you can see this on the website by clicking on the Adoption Contract ) providing specific rules for the care and maintenance of the dog. It provides that we can call the vet or stop in unannounced to see the status of the dog, and we have done both. We stay in touch with the new adopter for several weeks after the adoption, making sure the transition is going well. In many cases adopters have become friends and volunteers and they remain part of the SOS DOGS active family of rescuers.

What if the adopter canít keep the dog at some future date?

In very very rare instances, the adoption may not work out. Or something may happen to the adopter that makes it impossible for him/her to keep the dog, even years later. The contract provides that the dog comes back to this rescue if the adopter cannot keep the dog. This has happened a few times. We usually contact the former owner to see if their status has changed and if they would want the dog back. Twice dogs have gone back to their original owners for tearful reunions. If not, we repeat the same process to find a new loving home.

Do I bring the dog to the rescue?

SOS DOGS is not a shelter. We donít have a facility with cages to take in dogs. If you can keep your dog in your home, we can do the adoption from there and we prefer to do it that way for the good of the dog. If you have to bring your dog to us, we can put your dog into a volunteer foster home until adopted. However, it is best for your dog to stay in his/her own home until a new home is found, if that is possible. Limiting the transfer to one new home rather than two (yours to foster to new home) minimizes the confusion and trauma. Dogs appear to be much happier when making only one transfer. However, if this is absolutely not possible, we do have foster homes.

Yorkshire TerrierWhat is the process if I keep my dog until you find a home?

We will find the proper home for the dog based on what you tell us about him/her. If you would like input, that is acceptable to us. Unlike many other rescues who take dogs and you have no idea what happens, you can be part of the adoptive decision making process at SOS.

Once we find the right home (takes a few weeks in most circumstances) and then do the approvals and home inspections, we connect the two of you for the transfer of the dog to his/her new. The transfer can be done in any way you prefer: the new owner can come to you, or you can take the dog to his/her new home so you can see it. In some cases, the old and new owners stay in touch, with the old owner getting pictures and periodic updates.

If I change my mind, can I get my dog back?

NO. You have signed a legal surrender which forfeits any rights to the dog. The only way you might get the dog back would be if the new adopter decides he or she cannot keep the dog, in which case we would contact the old owner before beginning to search for a new home. We are not a long term kenneling service or fostering service. These are permanent adoptions, and the new mom and dad legally own the dog.

Does this cost me anything?

While there is no ďchargeĒ for this service, it is customary to include a donation to help the rescue. Donations vary from $25 on up, but the usual is about $100. Of course, this is totally discretionary and not required, but very appreciated.

What if I still have questions?

Please feel free to email us at if you have further questions.


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