Sometimes, regardless of everyone’s best intentions it’s happened; you cannot keep your pet.

There are many reasons to make this hard decision, and we will try to address them here.




Veterinary care can be expensive. If there is an accident, sometimes the veterinary care that your dog or cat needs isn’t affordable. There are some resources for financial assistance in these cases, however. If the cost of veterinary care is the only reason that you are considering relinquishment, we encourage you to see if any of the organizations below can help you out. Click on the blue words to see more information.

Starfleet Canine Aid Foundation: This nonprofit serves the entire state of California. “The Starfleet Canine Aid Foundation (SCAF) is a federal and state recognized non-profit corporation. SCAF was created to provide financial aid to owners that could not otherwise afford medical treatment for the treatable disease or injury of a canine companion… SCAF’s goal is to help save the lives of as many canine companions as possible so they can remain in the homes of the people who love them.”

Basehart Foundation: Helps those on low or fixed incomes pay for veterinary care with the intention to keep families together, and pets our of shelters.

C.A.R.E.4Paws: “Sometimes, pet owners find themselves in unexpected financial situations, either temporarily or as a long-term change in their lives. C.A.R.E.4Paws’ Companion Pet Assistance program helps low-income, senior, disabled and homeless pet owners in Santa Barbara County, CA, with basic care of their dogs and cats to reduce suffering and ensure our community members don’t have to surrender their beloved companions to a shelter. As part of our Companion Pet Assistance Veterinary Intervention Program, we provide assistance with vet care, as funding allows, to dogs and cats owned by low-income community members in Santa Barbara County (only).”


Training can be hard, especially if you work all day. The ability to train a dog is not an inborn trait! You need to be trained just as much as your dog in order to make progress. We get it: the money, the time, the consistency… your dog is misbehaving and it’s overwhelming.

We have a K9 Behaviorist on staff that can offer some free assistance and advice. We recommend giving one more effort before considering relinquishing your animal. Give us a call at (805) 964-4777 to book a free consultation.

Landlord Says No:

This is a huge problem in the city of Santa Barbara. Landlords have possibly had bad experiences with less-than-perfect pet owners in the past, or they want to keep their rentals allergen free. Regardless of the reason, this is a problem. Add that to a general housing crisis and the astronomical cost of rent in SB, it is no wonder that the inability to find a pet-friendly situation is the number one reason that pets are relinquished to us.

As we continue to work to improve the situation by working with rental agencies and individuals in Santa Barbara, we have yet to find a surefire way to fix this problem. If you can afford it, offer to pay a pet deposit on top of your regular deposit. You can also offer a monthly rent, specifically for your pet, in addition to your normal rent. If you have some time, consider certifying your dog as an AKC Canine Good Citizen to show prospective landlords that your dog has passed an objective, measurable test that shows how friendly, obedient and well-behaved your dog is.

If you are working with a Licensed Mental Health Professional, you can ask about Emotional Support Animal Certification.

If all else fails, We are here to make sure that your dog or cat finds their final loving and caring home.

How to Surrender a Dog/Cat at the Santa Barbara Humane Society

  1. Have a consultation either by phone or in person. If no further action is required, we will schedule an appointment.
  2. We will accept pets from Santa Barbara, Goleta, Carpinteria, Summerland, Solvang, Buellton, Santa Maria, Santa Ynez, Orcutt, Los Alamos, Camarillo, San Luis Obispo, Simi Valley, Oxnard, Ventura, Ojai, Westlake and Moorpark. We ask that you can show residency in those areas with either a current driver’s license or by using last month’s utility bill.
  3. We require past documents and/or licensing of the pet to serve as proof of ownership in order to prevent someone other than the rightful owner from relinquishing a pet.


Please note:

  1. We do not take strays (Click here to find what to do with a lost or found dog or cat in SB County) or another person’s pet that was “abandoned”. If you have recently obtained this pet and haven’t had a chance to register it under your name or have taken it to the vet you may take the pet to Noah’s Ark for a free first time exam. The Santa Barbara Humane Society clinic does not do exams.
  2. If pet has come from another rescue/shelter/Humane Society, your pet may need to go back to the original shelter if there is a contract stating that you must return the animal to them in the event you cannot keep him/her anymore. We will assist you in finding the necessary course of action.
  3. Will not take in if there have been any recent consummated bites or dangerous dog letters. Recent dog/cat bites may be considered if the pet has been through quarantine.
  4. We may need to evaluate your pet for health or behavior before we make an appointment or agree on intake. We will determine this after relinquishment consultation.
  5. We can take in the same day as inquired if we do not feel the need for a health or behavioral evaluation, and if we have space available.
  6. We may not be able to take in your pet because of unmanageable or untreatable health and/or behavior issues. We may recommend other alternatives or provide resources depending on the situation such as free training or options for financial help.




Last Updated: 10/17/2017

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