March 5, 2024

By: Sarah A. Neikam, CAWA

Understanding the backgrounds of the pets in an animal shelter is an important factor in ensuring they find suitable forever homes. At the SPCA Albrecht Center, most pets come to us as strays, having a completely unknown background and past, but a significant number of pets are surrendered by their owners and others are returned after adoption. While both of these situations are unfortunate for the pet, they can provide our staff with valuable information to ensure that the pet’s ‘second chance’ is forever.

Charlotte is an owner surrendered cat available for adoption.

Owner surrenders occur when a pet owner makes the hard decision to give up their animal to a shelter. Common reasons include lifestyle changes such as moving, the arrival of a new baby, financial hardship, illness, or even the death of the owner. These decisions are never taken lightly and often come from a place of seeking what’s best for the animal under difficult circumstances.

Adoption returns, while less frequent, happen when a mismatch between the pet and the adoptive family’s expectations or circumstances occurs. It’s important to note that returns are not necessarily indicative of a problem with the pet. Instead, they reflect the complex nature of matching pets with the right homes and the reality that not every first match is perfect.

Each pet’s origin story plays a crucial role in finding them a new home. Details such as compatibility with other animals, behavior traits, and past experiences inform our staff in making the best match possible. Our goal is to not only find homes for our shelter animals but to find forever homes where pets and owners can thrive together.

Tasha is a returned dog available for adoption.

One of the hurdles we face is combating misconceptions about surrendered and returned animals. Often, potential adopters may overlook these pets, believing they were returned or surrendered due to fault of their own. It’s crucial to understand that these animals are in need of love and a second chance, just like any other pet in our care.

We encourage those considering adoption to look beyond initial impressions and consider pets with previous homes. These animals offer the same love and companionship as any other pet and when placed in a home that suits their temperament and behavior, with a person or family who demonstrates patience, often adapt very well to their new environment. Adopting a pet is a significant commitment, and we urge potential adopters to consider their lifestyle and readiness for the responsibility.

Understanding the stories behind owner surrenders and adoption returns is essential in the journey to find every pet a loving forever home. We believe every animal deserves a chance at happiness, regardless of their past. By fostering awareness and compassion, we can help these pets find the love and stability they deserve.

If you are interested in adopting, we ask that you take time to meet our friends that came from a previous home, including senior pets who sometimes find themselves without a home after years with the same family.

Please also take time to consider if a companion is right for you and your current lifestyle, and how you would handle lifestyle changes with your companion by your side. Our adoption staff is available to speak with you and help you pick not just a cute pet, but one that is a best match for you now and will remain so for years to come.

Do You Need to Surrender or Rehome Your Pet?
The SPCA Albrecht Center is a limited-admission, no-kill animal shelter. Animals in our care remain with us until they are adopted, which means we are typically at or above capacity. Our first priority is to homeless, abused and neglected animals found within the City of Aiken, with whom we ae contracted to provide animal sheltering services. We accept personal pets on a limited basis as capacity allows. Surrendered pets must be evaluated by our staff before intake is considered. Please call 803-648-6863 to check availability.

BUT – There are other options, AND you may be able to keep your pet! Do you need pet food? Pet behavior or training advice? Vet care that you can’t afford? Something else? We may be able to help! Email details to [email protected].

But if you absolutely cannot keep your pet, skip the shelter – Rehome!

Reach out to friends & family; Create flyers or ads; Contact local rescue groups; or Use Adopt-A-Pet’s ‘Rehome’ – It’s free, easy, better for your pet & you get to pick their new home. The steps are simple: Create a Pet Profile; Review Applications; Meet Adopters; Finalize Adoption and ensure a smooth transfer of ownership. It’s much better for your pet and you get to have a say in their next home.

Sarah Neikam is the Marketing Director for the SPCA Albrecht Center in Aiken, SC. She has been with the organization since 2012, holding various roles including Volunteer Coordinator and Director of Operations & HR. A Certified Animal Welfare Administrator as of 2022, Sarah is a passionate advocate for animal welfare. She resides in Aiken with her husband, Tom, and their six cats.