Giving Up Your Pet

Surrendering Your Companion Animal to the Ottawa Humane Society

If you are no longer able to care for your pet, the OHS is here to help.

If you need to surrender your pet, please call us at 613-725-3166 ext. 221. We prioritize admission based on need and will support you in caring for your pet until they can be admitted into our care.

If we are unable to answer your call, please leave a message with your name, number and reason for calling and we will return your call as soon as possible.

Giving up an animal is never easy — for the owner or for the pet. If you need to surrender your pet to the Ottawa Humane Society, this is what you should know:

  • We take animals in by appointment only, as we have limited space and resources. Please call 613-725-3166 ext. 221 or email us to speak with our trained staff about surrendering your pet, and to make an appointment.
  • We make the appointments for weekdays, between 1 and 7 p.m. and Saturday between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Please note that due to seasonal trends, and additional COVID-19 precautionary measures, there may be a wait for an appointment.
  • You should make sure that your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date before surrendering them, since we do house so many stray and lost animals. There is always a risk of illness in a shelter environment.
  • All animals brought to the OHS must be properly restrained on a leash or in a carrier.
  • The decision to surrender your pet is a permanent one. Once you have surrendered your animal, they become the property of the OHS. We realize that surrendering your pet is an emotional decision which you have made for a good reason. It would not be responsible of us to return an animal to someone who has told us that they are unable or unwilling, for whatever reason, to provide care for their animal.

We ask you to provide the following:

  • Completed Pet History Questionnaire (link found below)
  • A recent electronic photo of your pet (JPEG format preferred)
  • Your pet’s medical records
  • A piece of photo identification for yourself
  • Proof that you are the owner of the pet: such as a photograph; a City of Ottawa registration tag; bill of sale; or a receipt from your veterinary clinic
  • One cup of your pet’s food
  • To help reduce your pet’s stress, we ask that you bring items that are familiar to them such as favourite toys and a blanket

What happens to surrendered pets?

When an animal is surrendered to the OHS, they will first have their picture taken for identification purposes. If their vaccine status is not current or unknown, they will be vaccinated. Vaccines take a few days to be fully effective. We recommend that all animals be fully vaccinated several days prior to admission. All animals are examined by a veterinary technician, and some of them will be rechecked by our shelter veterinarian. Cats and dogs will receive a behaviour assessment to determine their needs in an adoptive home. Depending on resources, some animals will be placed in foster care prior to adoption for health or behaviour reasons. All cats and dogs that are deemed suitable for adoption will be microchipped and, if not already, spayed or neutered.

We keep all healthy, adoptable animals as long as it takes to find them a new home.

Unfortunately, some animals have medical or behaviour issues that make them difficult or impossible to rehome, and we will not adopt out any animal that we believe to be a public safety risk. Additionally, some animals become highly stressed in a shelter environment, which makes them more susceptible to illness and, despite aggressive veterinary treatment, unlikely to recover from such illness. The OHS will not keep an animal in a state of suffering when their prognosis is poor or when the OHS lacks the resources to restore the animal’s health. These animals will be humanely euthanized by caring, professional staff.

When our shelter is full, we have fewer resources to address animal health and behaviour issues. Overcrowding results in higher levels of stress and illness in a shelter environment. As a result, an animal’s chance of being placed for adoption may be reduced, even if it was healthy at the time of admission. When the shelter is at capacity, in the best interest of their pet, owners will be encouraged to wait until the shelter has space available before surrendering their pet.

Pet History Questionnaires:

Please print and fill out the forms per animal as applicable.



Small animals:



If you have any further questions, or need to make an appointment, please call 613-725-3166 ext. 221 or email us. We will do our best to find your former companion the happy, healthy home they deserve.

Please read our tips on how to find your pet a home on your own.