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Surrendering Your Pet

We realise that there may be sometimes when a pet owner has a change in circumstance and they can no longer care for their pet. Changes in relationships, residential property, health and financial strains can impact on the level of care that an owner can provide for their pet.

As GAWS is an open admission shelter, we will never refuse a surrendered dog or cat from their owner. We endeavour to provide the best care and outcome for every animal that comes through the shelter.

We have limited space to accept rabbits, guinea pigs, birds and chickens and may not be able to take small animals in.

We suggest you contact alternative organisations (e.g. rescue groups or other animal welfare organisations) or contact GAWS prior to surrendering these animals.Before you surrender your cat or dog, please consider the advice below for some common reasons for pet surrenders.

Not enough time for pet (particularly dogs)?

When a dog is left home alone for extended periods, they can become bored and start being destructive (e.g. digging holes, chewing objects, etc.).

Some solutions for this include:

Buy some interactive, enrichment toys

kongThere is a wide range of interactive enrichment toys nowadays which are aimed at providing mental stimulation for dogs.
Toys such as “Kongs” (including “Kong wobblers”) and treat balls are great, as food-motivated dogs love playing with them to receive the treats which are placed inside the toy. It is also important to regularly change these toys (or have a rotation) so that the toys don’t become boring.

Let them dig

But, in a controlled environment! Purchase a toddler wading pool and fill with sand. Encourage your dog to dig in this by initially hiding treats in the sand.

Hire a dog walker

Have you got a friend, neighbour or family member who can stop by and take your dog for a walk? There are also numerous local professional dog walkers around these days which could help provide mental and physical stimulation for your dog.

Take your dog to the beach or free run park

runEven 15-20 minutes of free running can really help your dog release energy. If you can squeeze this in before work, it will make your dog happier and more content during the day.



Dog Friendly parks in the Geelong Region

Dogs parks in Geelong


Behavioural problems

Significant behavioural problems in cats and dogs can lead to unhappy and frustrated owners. If you have a dog or cat with a behavioural issue, here are some tips:

See the vet

Ensure that your pet has seen a veterinarian, as some behavioural problems can arise due to medical problems. If you would like to make an appointment for a health check at the GAWS vet clinic, please phone (03) 5248 2091 between 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday.

Ask the experts

If there are no medical issues, get in contact with a qualified animal/veterinary behaviourist. These people deal with pet behavioural problems daily and can usually advise on the cause and treatment plan.

Pets not allowed at property

This is the number one reason why pets are surrendered at GAWS, especially dogs. If you’re a pet owner currently looking for a rental property, try these tips:

When searching for a new home, check out This website provides help for pet owners to find rental properties.

Write a “canine CV”.

We suggest you include the following on your pet’s CV:

  • Name
  • Breed
  • Age
  • Council registration details
  • Vaccination status
  • Any evidence of training
  • Details of the pet’s grooming requirements
  • Mention if they are microchipped or desexed

It may also benefit you to include a reference from your regular vet or previous landlord. You may also want to add that the pet is healthy and free from health, behavioural issues or any other destructive tendencies.

Ask any way.

Some rental properties will consider tenants with pets.

Get a reference for Fido.

See if you can get a written reference for your pet. Ask your vet, dog trainer, etc.

Prior to surrender

If you still have to surrender your pet, ensure that this is the last possible outcome. GAWS is a not-for-profit organisation and has limited resources. Prior to surrendering you pet at GAWS, consider these questions:

Can you rehome your pet to family, friends or co-workers?

This option is beneficial for all involved as you know where your pet is going and you can help introduce your pet to their new home.

Have you searched/contacted a relevant rescue group?
There are a lot of rescue groups around nowadays, some are breed specific and some are more general. Conduct an internet search for animal rescue groups in your area.

If you have exhausted all other possibilities and still have to surrender your pet, please be prepared.Prior to coming into the shelter to surrender your pet, we ask that you download the surrender form and complete this as best as you can.The more information you can provide, the better the chance of rehoming your pet to a suitable family/owner.

 At the time of surrender

You do not need an appointment for surrendering your pet at GAWS, just come in during the opening hours (Monday to Friday 10am – 4pm, Saturday 10am – 3pm and Sunday 1pm – 4pm).

When you come into the shelter to surrender your pet, please bring:

  • Your pet (dogs on lead, cats in carry cage/box)
  • Your completed surrender form – Download here
  • Any relevant medical certificates or forms, e.g. desexing, vaccination or microchip
  • We also ask for a financial donation to go towards the care of your pet. This is voluntary and the amount is up to you

It is important to note that we cannot guarantee the outcome of your pet, as this will be dependent on the health and temperament of your pet as well as the amount of space we have in the shelter.