Volunteering for the Owner Surrender Program (OSP) at Austin Boxer Rescue is one of the most emotional jobs that one could have. It involves working with, and often grieving with, pet owners who are surrendering their beloved Boxers for any number of reasons.
If an owner has to give up their dog, they can complete the Owner Surrender Release Form found on the Rehoming option on the ABR website. Within 48 hours of receiving it, the OSP coordinator will reach out to the owner to offer support, guidance, and resources to help them rehome their dog.
“Running the Owner Surrender Program is the most emotional job I have ever had,” notes John, our coordinator. “I don’t recall another where I’ve laughed hysterically and cried like a baby in one 5-minute phone call. Since taking over the program nearly two years ago, I have celebrated and grieved more than I care to admit.”
How Does the ABR Owner Surrender Program Work?
The program requires that owners hold onto their dog until ABR can find a new home for them. If the dog is accepted into the program, the coordinator will post photos of the dog on the ABR website and write a bio with the information provided by the owner. The adoption team will then review current applications, and if it appears there’s a good match, one of the Adoption Coordinators will contact the prospective adopter.
John shared with us more about the process, noting that once ABR receives a request from an owner, he opens a file and lets them know ABR will do everything we can to help them rehome their sweet pup.
“I help them understand their options and direct them to local resources,” John said. “Dogs in boarding are typically considered first. Since we’re almost always at capacity, bringing the dog straight into rescue isn’t typically an option. So we require the owner to hold their dog until we can make other arrangements. Sometimes they run out of time. We do our best to help them make a plan.”
Why Do People Surrender Pets?
One of the most common reasons that Boxer owners contact us through the OSP is because of changes in their life circumstances. They may have fallen on hard times financially, experienced a change in their work schedule or living arrangements, or had to deal with incapacitating medical issues. In other cases, dogs develop behavioral issues and no longer get along, to the point where they need to be separated. Dogs that are not spayed sometimes escape their backyards and come home pregnant.
In some cases, owners have passed away without leaving instructions or funds for their care in their estate planning or with their family, leaving their survivors with a dog that they can’t or don’t want to care for or rehome themselves. The program also gets calls from military personnel who have been stationed at a new duty assignment, elderly people entering nursing homes or becoming incapacitated, and people who find stray dogs.
“Sometimes owners just need to hear a kind voice,” John added. “Without ABR, they might be forced to consider overcrowded shelters and the possibility of euthanasia. Sadly, they may also advertise their dog on social media or Craigslist. Sometimes they give their dog to strangers and hope for the best. Dogs are left abandoned in homes and back yards to fend for themselves until a Good Samaritan comes along. Without a place to turn, many of these dogs may not fare well when the owner is forced to rehome them. I’m proud of the work we do at ABR.”
Training Can Be Attractive Alternative to Owner Surrender
As an alternative to surrendering a dog with behavioral issues, ABR recommends that owners consider canine training, especially if the dog is exhibiting sudden personality changes. If surrender is the only option, the OSP coordinator will do everything possible to help.
“We don’t typically recommend rehoming before the owner considers canine training,” John noted. “If they are experiencing sudden behavioral issues, a wellness check might rule out anything medically related.”
Austin Boxer Rescue conducts stringent screening of applicants, including home visits and reference checks. This process ensures that the adoptive family is aware of the Boxer breed characteristics and ready to take on the responsibility, and that their home and yard are set up to ensure their new pet’s safety.
ABR Vetting, Heartworm Treatment Ensure Healthy Dogs
“When a dog is adopted from ABR, we provide vetting and heartworm treatment if needed,” John explained. The dog is also microchipped and registered to ABR. If the dog gets lost, the microchip can be scanned by a veterinary office or other rescue groups to ensure the dog’s safety, and to help reunite the dog with its adoptive family.
“Shelters will typically only hold a dog for 72 hours before adopting them out or euthanizing them,” John said. “Having the microchip in ABR’s name is an added safeguard to ensure your dog won’t be euthanized in a shelter.”
Once a dog is an ABR dog, it is for a lifetime, so if at any time, the adoptive family can no longer care for the dog, the rescue will accept the dog back into the OSP.
OSP: Hope and Compassion for Dogs and Their Owners
The OSP at ABR offers hope and compassion to pet owners who find themselves in difficult situations. By providing support, resources, and alternative options to surrendering their pets, the program ensures that dogs find new loving and responsible homes. This program and other services provided by ABR are a testament to our commitment to saving Boxer dogs and providing them with the best possible care that we can, and we are so thankful for volunteers like John who have helped make this program successful. If you or your family ever find yourself in a situation where you can no longer care for your ABR dog, we invite you to contact us to learn more about the OSP.