Owner Surrender/Return Process

We understand that caring for a dog can take a lot of work, sometimes be quite costly, and sometimes require some lifestyle changes. If you have a dog who you truly love but can no longer care for, we offer an animal surrender program where we will take ownership and ensure the dog is adopted to a loving forever home. While we wish we could offer help to every dog who needs it, the reality of our resources limits our capabilities. We must carefully consider each dog we accept into our program so as to be able to continue our other life-saving programs.

While rare exceptions may be made, this is the process that we follow to ensure that we are able to find great homes for all of our dogs and save as many lives as we can while ensuring quality in all of our programs, and that each dog and adopter is treated as an individual with respect and compassion.

All of the below requested information should be submitted at one time to SURRENDER@SOSARL.ORG.


Depending upon how quickly the below can be addressed, the surrender process usually takes between 2-8 weeks. This process could be shortened or extended, depending upon the specifics involved.

PRIOR to contacting SOS to surrender a dog, Steps 1-2 must be completed:

STEP 1. Behavioral Assessment

Contact one of the below professional trainers to schedule a behavioral assessment of your dog. The assessment needs to produce a report that will be shared with SOS. Importantly, SOS cannot accept dogs who have shown dog- or human-aggression.

Jones Animal Behavior, Warwick, RI, http://www.jonesanimalbehavior.com/
Chase K9 Services, Cumberland, RI, http://www.chasek9services.com/
K9 Instincts Portsmouth, RI, http://www.k9instincts.com/
Paws Down Dog Training, Rochester, MA , http://paws-down.com/
John Gagnon Pet Resort, Colchester, CT , http://www.4dogman.com/

A different cost may be associated with this assessment based upon the trainer you select. The assessment report needs to be faxed to SOS at 954-208-2727 or emailed to SURRENDER@SOSARL.ORG. Please note: we will only accept an assessment by one of the above professionals.

STEP 2. Vetting Assessment

Contact your vet and have any and all medical records faxed to 954-208-2727. We require your vet to fax both handwritten medical records/history and a copy of your pet’s entire vaccination and medical record, even if the vetting is expired. It is critical that we have any/all handwritten records as well as the vaccination history so we can review the dog’s overall health and what the dog may need when s/he comes into our program. Even if your pet has expired medical records/vaccinations, we still need to see any previous history.

If your dog has expired vetting, we may need you to facilitate getting your dog’s vetting updated. The vetting we require includes heartworm testing and preventative, flea/tick preventative, spay/neuter, core vaccinations, and recent negative fecal for ova, parasites and giardia.

Once Steps 1-2 are completed, contact SOS.

STEP 3. Contact SOS

Once the above is completed, prepare and submit the following to SOS:

  • Surrender Additional Information – This form collects additional information on the dog that will help us ensure the dog is placed into the right next home.
  • Three recent, clear pictures of the dog.
  • A short video showing the dog interact with humans and other dogs.

Review the SOS Surrender Release Form and SOS Foster Home Contract at this time. The Surrender Release Form irrevocably surrenders ownership of the dog to SOSARL, should SOS decide to accept the dog. Depending upon the circumstances around the surrender, a Foster Home Contract may be required if the dog is going to remain in your physical care for any period of time after the Release Form is executed. While these forms do not need to be executed and provided to SOS at this time, please review them to ensure that you are prepared to sign them.

STEP 4. Response from SOS

Once we receive all of these things, we will reach out to you within 7 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, we will reach out to you with a surrender decision within 7 days. If we are able to accept your dog into the SOS program, we will require an executed Surrender Release Form and possibly an executed SOS Foster Home Contract at this time.

We will also discuss the surrender timeline further with you at this time, and schedule a surrender appointment.

STEP 5. 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 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.

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 do not require a surrender fee at this time. 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.

Other Resources


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, no-kill rescue group. This means that we have very limited space and resources to accept dogs. We do not have an age limit or breed restriction policy on surrenders, but we DO NOT accept animals who are aggressive, have a bite history (provoked or not), or have severe medical conditions.

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