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If you can’t keep a pet, there are options available

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Chili the dog was more fortunate than many.

When illness or injury strikes and people can no longer care for their pets for an extended time, the options can be limited.

Most rescue groups won’t take pets into foster care indefinitely, says Jon Bourque, owner of Swagger Dog Training. “Usually, they’ll go into a rescue, then the rescue can put them out to foster, but the majority of the time, the owner won’t get the dog back,” he says. “They’re not going to board a dog for an extended period for free.”

The ideal situation is for pets to remain with their families, but if that’s not possible, Animal Humane New Mexico works with owners to help identify options, says executive director Donna Stumpf.

“We really encourage people to do what (Spellman) did,” she says. “Reach out to your circle – family, friends, colleagues, neighbors.” If owners can re-home a pet themselves, it offers tremendous peace of mind, she explains.

If all else fails and owners have to surrender their pet to the shelter, Animal Humane tries to make the process as painless as possible, Stumpf says. An important step is compiling detailed information about the animal to help track down its best match. “The new owners want to know. This is like a child,” she explains.

Animal Humane re-homes more than 4,000 pets each year, so owners can rest assured that they are experts at connecting every type of pet and personality with their ideal new family, Stumpf adds.

The Animal Humane NM website offers resources for helping owners navigate the emotional terrain of giving up a pet:

Other resources include:

The Humane Society of the United States:

And, a site providing support and guidance for foster caretakers since 2001: