Ruff Start is proud to help thousands of companion animals from different backgrounds find new beginnings each year. Some of those animals come to us because they are surrendered by their owners. While we are committed to keeping people and pets together when possible, we understand that many times giving up your pet may be a surrendering owner’s only option. Our team is committed to making this experience as positive as possible for both you and your animal.

Please note that we are not an open intake facility, meaning we may not be able to take in all animals in need of a second chance. All animals in need are assessed by our intake team to ensure they are a good fit for our rescue program before we search for an applicable foster home. Filling out a surrender form and working with our intake team does not guarantee Ruff Start Rescue will be able to rehome your pet.

Keeping Pets and People Together

Ruff Start’s ultimate goal is to keep animals in their current homes and with their owners, as long as it is safe for both parties. We know that pet care can be stressful and overwhelming in times of crisis and assistance may be necessary to ensure this is possible. If you are in need of resources to help keep your pet in your home, including veterinary information, rental housing information, training resources, etc., please visit our Community Resources page for additional information.

Our Requests

If you are considering surrendering your animal, please review our requests below. Animals that follow these stipulations have a greater likelihood of being accepted into rescue.

Currently, we accept surrender forms for dogs, cats, and critters in need of a new home.

Full Disclosure

We would appreciate and request full disclosure as to your pet’s behavioral and medical information. This allows us to best assess if your animal is a good fit for our rescue program, as well as find the best possible foster home for your animal.

Official Veterinary Records

To ensure we know as much about a surrendered animal as possible, we would appreciate copies of official veterinary records. Please note that official records are not invoices showing services that have been paid for and instead include your veterinarian’s notes and assessments as well as test results. Your veterinarian can directly send these to our intake team upon your request.


Although we would love to help as many animals in need as possible, there are certain circumstances where we may be unable to take an animal into our care. This can be due to a myriad of reasons including not having applicable foster homes or the appropriate funding to take on large scale issues. These circumstances include certain behavioral and medical issues, including but not limited to:

  • Animal aggression, including dogs and cats who cannot safely live with other animals
  • Human aggression, including dogs and cats who cannot safely live with adults, men, and children
  • Bite history, human- or animal-related
  • An animal that has been declared “potentially dangerous” or “dangerous” by a city or county
  • Severe separation anxiety, including animals that may critically injure themselves if left alone
  • Cats that appear feral in nature and need long-term rehabilitation
  • Considerable medical issues that require extensive care

If we find a good fitting foster home and are able to take your animal into our care, a monetary donation is appreciated but not required. These donations are tax deductible and help take care of any veterinary expenses incurred while getting the animal appropriately vetted for adoption.

The Surrendering Process

  1. To get started, please fill out the applicable owned animal surrender form. If you are hoping to help a lost or stray animal, view our resources for lost and/or found pets.
  2. After filling out a surrender application, please email your pet’s official veterinary records and current photos to our intake team at In your email, note that you have filled out an owner surrender form. This is a great place to include any additional information that may help us find an applicable foster home for your pet.
  3. An intake representative will reach out to you regarding the possibility of our rescue being able to assist in your search for a new home for your pet. To ensure the safety of our foster homes, we may request to do a behavioral assessment on your animal before being able to commit to taking them into rescue.
  4. If Ruff Start is able to help and a foster home is found, the intake representative assigned to your surrender application will connect with you to find an ideal time to bring your animal into rescue.

Returning a Ruff Starter

When you adopt a pet from Ruff Start, we truly hope it is a perfect match. However, we know this isn’t always feasible for many reasons. Please reach out to us for assistance. We often have resources to share to help keep your pet in your home.

If you need to rehome your adopted Ruff Start pet, please follow the surrender process above but note in your application that your animal was originally adopted from our rescue. You may also disclose this when corresponding with our intake team via email.

While we try our best to prioritize getting returned animals into rescue, we do ask for your patience as we attempt to find an appropriate foster home for your animal. This process can take anywhere from hours to weeks depending on the personality of the pet, type of foster home needed, and time of year. Your understanding of our foster-based model is greatly appreciated.

However, because we are foster-based, we can never guarantee placement. To ensure the best possible outcome for your animal, you may also want to reach out to other rescue organizations and shelters for help placing your pet safely and quickly.

Ruff Start Rescue