Owner Surrender Process


We are so very sorry, but we are unable to accept owner surrender dogs at this time.  

If you have a dog who you can no longer care for, please reach out to your local animal shelter for rehoming assistance.  If you have a dog who is struggling with behavioral issues, please consider working with one of the below behavior consultants/behaviorists.  Thank you for your commitment to your dog and doing everything you can to help your dog lead her best life.

We know that caring for a dog can take a lot of work, time and money, and sometimes require some lifestyle changes. And then sometimes life throws a curve ball, forcing us to make difficult decisions. If you have a dog who you truly love but can no longer care for, we may be able to help.

While we wish we could offer help to every dog who needs it, the reality of our resources limits our capabilities. We are not a shelter and do not have a facility; all of the dogs in our program live in private homes prior to adoption. Each of these homes is just as unique as yours, with different dynamics including possibly children, other dogs, cats or other animals, so we need to be sure that we have a reasonable understanding of the health and temperament of each dog before bringing them into our program.

We must carefully consider each dog we accept into our program so as to ensure that we are respecting everyone’s safety, needs, capabilities and quality of life.

For these reasons, we follow the below surrender process.


If you recently adopted from SOS and are looking to return your SOS dog, please reach out to your Adoption Counselor or [email protected] ASAP. Previous SOSARL adopters who are looking to return their SOS dog more than 3-6 months after adoption finalization are typically required to follow this Surrender Process.


Please take the time to review this entire process to ensure that you understand and are committed to the process and expectations of our program.

A note about the timeline to surrender a dog: depending upon how quickly the below can be addressed, this process usually takes somewhere between 4-12 weeks to complete. This timeline could be shortened or extended, depending upon the specifics involved and the current rescue climate.

STEP 1. Collect all vetting history

Contact your vet(s) and collect copies of all of your pet’s medical records. These records should include all doctor’s notes, tests, test results, and vaccination histories/certificates as relevant.

We require the following vetting be completed prior to placing a dog into our foster program:

  • Spay/neuter
  • Heartworm test
  • Heartworm preventative
  • Tick-borne disease testing
  • Fecal for parasites including giardia antigen
  • Rabies vaccination
  • DHPP vaccination
  • Bordatella vaccination
  • Leptospirosis vaccination

If your dog does not meet our vetting requirements, please do not delay in contacting us and submit those records that you do have, but we may need you to facilitate getting your dog’s vetting updated before we can work with you.

STEP 2. Prepare the following:

  • Owner Surrender Additional Information Form (pdf). This form collects detailed information on the dog that will help us assess our ability to help him/her.
  • Three recent, clear pictures of the dog.
  • At least one short video (1-3 minute) showing the dog interacting with humans.
  • At least one short video (1-3 minutes) showing the dog interacting with other dogs.


Once Steps 1-2 are completed, email SOS at [email protected] with all of the collected items, including:

  1. Full copies of all of your pet’s medical records
  2. Completed Owner Surrender Additional Information Form
  3. Three recent, clear pictures of the dog
  4. At least one short video (1-3 minute) showing the dog interacting with humans.
  5. At least one short video (1-3 minutes) showing the dog interacting with other dogs.

Once we receive all of these things, we will reach out to you within seven days to schedule a time to discuss the situation further. This will be when we ask you any outstanding questions that we may have, and answer any questions that you may have. After this discussion is completed and all questions are answered, if the dog appears to be a good fit for our program, we will work with you to schedule the behavioral assessment for some time in the upcoming 1-4 weeks.

STEP 4. Behavior Assessment

A behavior assessment by a certified behaviorist, a certified behavior consultant or a member of the SOS Behavior Team is required for all dogs to be considered for the SOS foster program. You may contact one of the below professionals on your own to schedule a behavior assessment (please be sure to request a written report to be shared with SOS), or you may wait until this step to schedule this with a member of the SOS Behavior Team. Please note that each professional has their own cost structure for this service and that SOS will not be paying for this service unless completed by a member of the SOS Behavior Team. Behavior assessments typically require 2-4 weeks of lead time to get scheduled.

Jones Animal Behavior, Warwick, RI
Cooperation Canine, Rehoboth, RI

IMPORTANT TO NOTE is that it is at this step that we will require an executed Surrender Release Form and an executed SOS Foster Home Contract prior to scheduling this session, since the behavioral assessment is one of the most resource-intensive portions of this process. Please review these documents and plan to submit these documents to SOSARL after Step 3 is completed:
Surrender Release Form – this form irrevocably surrenders ownership of the dog to SOSARL, should SOS decide to accept the dog.
Foster Home Contract – this form is required if the dog is going to remain in your physical care for any period of time after the Release Form is executed.

If you choose to have the behavior assessment performed by a non-SOS professional, please email the report and contact information for the professional to <a href=”mailto:[email protected]” target=”_blank”>[email protected]</a>.

Importantly, SOS cannot accept dogs who have a history of dog- or human-aggression.

STEP 5. Response from SOS

Once we have all of the above details, we will reach out to you with a surrender decision within 7 days. If your dog is a good fit for our program, we will also discuss the surrender timeline further with you at this time, and schedule a surrender appointment if we forecast having an open foster home soon.

STEP 6. Prepare your Dog

In advance of the surrender appointment (when you physically relinquish your dog to SOS), please have your pet groomed/bathed and looking and smelling good – your pet will have a better chance at being adopted if he/she looks clean and happy. We may also require that your vet complete a Wellness Exam shortly prior to physical transfer of the dog to SOS; a health certificate and/or interstate health certificate may also need to be issued at that time if the dog is crossing state lines. If your pet has special toys or items like a crate, heartworm and/or flea and tick medications, beds etc…please bring them to this meeting. Bringing “comfort” items will help your dog adjust more quickly in his/her new home. Please make sure all of the dog’s personal are clean/washed (beds/carriers/toys) as we will send these items home with the new family.

Surrender Fee Requirement
If you are able to do all of the above and your dog is a good match for the SOS program and we are able to commit to helping him/her, we respectfully request that you consider making a donation to help offset the expenses. We do not require a surrender, but donations are always accepted and will be put to good use helping the dogs in our program reach their full potential in their new lives.


All surrenders are done by appointment on a resource-available basis.
SOS is a managed admission organization and we reserve the right to accept or refuse any dog presented for surrender. Please be advised that we are a limited admission rescue group. This means that we have limited space and resources to accept dogs. We do not have an age limit or breed restriction policy on surrenders, but we are NOT able to accept animals who are aggressive, have a bite history (provoked or not), or have severe and/or unstable medical conditions.

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