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Surrendering Your Pet 

We understand that sometimes it becomes necessary to give up your pet.

Here are the next steps...


The Stafford County Animal Shelter accepts pets from residents of Stafford County ONLY.  We provide a temporary safe haven for stray and lost animals and animals given up by their owners. Our shelter is defined as an “open admission” shelter, meaning we must accept all eligible animals in need of assistance. At our shelter, we do our best to make sure every adoptable animal has a chance at finding a new family. We ask the owner to please be honest and transparent when providing us information about your pet so that we can properly place him or her into the right family. 

We work very closely with approved rescue agencies for animals that may not immediately be available for adoption or animals that need more assistance than our resources offer. 


Before You Surrender a Pet

When an animal is surrendered to the shelter, his/her owner relinquishes all rights to that animal—and this decision is final. We urge anyone surrendering a pet to consider all possible alternatives before surrendering their ownership of their animal. The following points may be helpful:

  • A friend or family member may be willing to help. Please contact others who may be able to care for your pet either on a temporary or long-term basis.

  • Many behavioral problems can be resolved. Please consider contacting a local trainer to work with you and your pet.
  • Pets should not be “set free,” or left in a park or woods. Pets lack the skills to survive on their own and often suffer starvation or traumatic injury. Do not leave your pet behind in your former home, assuming someone will find him/her—this does not always happen in time for the animal. This is also against the law!!
  • Never give your pet away to a stranger. Not everyone is responsible or able to provide adequate pet care. Some people view animals as commodities that can be used for inhumane purposes and/or sold for research.
  • Please reach out to the animal shelter or rescue agency you acquired your pet from. Often times there is a contract involved and the animal(s) must be returned to the agency it came from. 
  • If you purchased your pet from a reputable breeder, please also make an attempt to contact them as they may want their pet back. This is only if you feel the breeder is safe and/or responsible.

If you have exhausted all these possibilities and are still unable to find placement for your pet(s), please contact the animal shelter and make arrangements to surrender. 


Necessary Documentation

If you choose to relinquish ownership of your pet, the shelter will ask for the following:

  • A valid Driver's License (military ID not accepted)
  • Any pertinent records pertaining to the pet (medical records, a bill of sale, etc.)
  • A completed information form of the pet’s habits and behaviors (which you will complete at the shelter) or you can save time and complete the information form online and submit it. 
  • Proof of Stafford County residency. If you do not provide proof you live in Stafford County your pet(s) may not be accepted at our shelter. 

The shelter requires that the pet’s rightful owner relinquish custody of the animal. If you are bringing in an owned pet that is not yours, we will require the rightful owner's information at the time of surrender. All forms signed at the animal shelter are sheriff office official forms and providing false information, withholding information, or being dishonest about who the animal belongs to, can result in charges. 


What Happens Next?

At the shelter, all animals receive necessary veterinary care,  food, exercise and plenty of love and attention from our experienced staff and volunteers. Animals determined to be suitable for adoption are placed on the adoption floor ready to find new homes. There is no set time limit for how long an animal can remain in our custody. As long as an animal maintains general good health and has an ideal temperament we will keep a pet for however long it takes to place him or her. We may place animals who are sick, underage, or who would benefit from one on one socialization, in foster care and adopt them out at a later date when they have been approved for adoption. We work hard to give second chances to every eligible animal as long as they are healthy and safe for the public. Animals with bite history or history or attacking other animals will be given a behavioral assessment by two of the staff members and a report will be kept on file in our office for adopters to reference. We do our best to remain transparent and honest about our animals in order to give adopter and pet the best chances at success. 


We humanely euthanize those animals that are not candidates for adoption due to medical or behavioral problems that the shelter does not have resources to treat or correct. We also euthanize aggressive animals that are determined to be a potential threat to the community and those sick or injured beyond medical treatment.


There is no charge for giving up an animal. We do ask that you relinquish all medical records, documentation, supply, or whatever else we might need to care for your pet. Please call ahead of time before surrendering your pet. Thank you in advance!



Found a Stray?


The Stafford County Animal Shelter accepts stray companion animals from Stafford County ONLY. If you found a stray animal please contact the animal shelter in the county in which you live or the county where you found the animal to file a report. Stray animals are accepted during our normal hours of operation Monday through Friday 11AM to 5:30PM and Saturday 9:30AM- 4PM. We ask that you please contact us before bringing the animal to the shelter. If you plan on holding on to the animal you found, you must file a "found report" with animal control and make every attempt to locate the owner. Do not give away, sell, or keep any stray animal without contacting your local animal shelter (this is illegal). If you are unable to locate an owner and can no longer hold onto the animal, please contact the animal shelter during normal business hours or the non-emergency line at 540-658-4400 to be put in touch with an animal control officer. Please understand that finding a stray is not considered an emergency (unless the animal requires immediate medical attention) and you might have to wait until the following day, during normal business hours, to have the animal picked up. You are not obligated to hold on to the animal. Strays that are brought into our custody are placed on a "stray hold" and must stay at the shelter during the entire duration of the stray hold. Stray hold is usually 5-10 full days, including weekends and holidays. If an owner comes forward after the stray hold ends, and the animal is still in our custody, the animal will be returned back to the rightful owner. 


The Stafford County Animal Shelter is not accepting owner requests for euthanasia at this time. We ask that you please seek veterinarian assistance for your animal.


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