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Animal Welfare Association of New Jersey

Surrender a Pet

Sometimes all other options are exhausted and your pet is still in need of a new home.

Giving up your pet is a difficult decision to make. We understand how hard it can be to relinquish a beloved pet, and we appreciate your choice to reach out to us so we can work in partnership with you for a safe and happy ending for your pet.

Many unwanted animal behaviors can be corrected, enabling pets to successfully remain in the family. If you would like more information about training or other solutions for keeping your pet, please visit our Pet Care Resources or call us. We will be happy to assist you or refer you to others who can help.

Animal surrenders at AWA require an appointment. Please contact us at 856-424-2288 or to schedule an appointment.

We accept only owner-surrendered animals through appointments to allow our staff to collect as much information as possible about the incoming pet. For dogs, it is usually possible to get an appointment immediately. For cats, there may be a several week delay.

The Intake Process

During the intake process we will assess your pet for medical and behavioral soundness. Some medical and behavioral issues are considered treatable and will not exclude the animal from participation in our adoption program. We evaluate each animal on a case-by-case basis. As a “No-Kill” or “Adoption Guarantee” shelter, we do not euthanize for space or length of stay, but we also are not a sanctuary and fully disclose that there are behavioral and medical issues that we cannot help.

  • Please allow enough time to properly relinquish your pet. The admissions process may take several days.
  • There is the initial contact from you to us.
  • Then one of our counselors will respond via phone call, which may take up to 20 minutes to learn more about your pet and what is happening in the home. This counselor will be appointed to work with you throughout the process.
  • Then, in most dog cases and some cat cases, a pre-intake meeting will be scheduled.
  • During this meeting, we will do a temperament assessment to ensure the pet is safe.
  • If we determine at the time of your appointment that your animal is not a candidate for our adoption program we will provide as many resources as possible to you to help re-home your pet. This will include referrals to animal behaviorists and education materials regarding behavioral issues.
  • If we are out of space, your pet will be placed on a waiting list. We will remain in touch and encourage you to try any rehoming options we provide.
  • If your pet does get adopted, the new owner’s contact information is confidential, and will not be released to you.

We strongly advise that you include all members of your immediate family and/or household in the decision to release the animal prior to bringing your pet to AWA. We also ask that any veterinary health or vaccination records you may have be brought in with the animal. The owner releasing the pet must be at least 18 years of age and provide a Driver’s License or other photo identification.

As a private, nonprofit organization dependent on community contributions, we charge intake fees to help defray the costs of providing for your pet.


Puppies and kittens under 8 weeks of age and/or 2 pounds are too young to be adopted. They do not thrive in a shelter environment, but do tend to gain more weight and remain healthier in a home. If we have room in our foster program, we may be able to take the animals into our facility.

If we do not have room in our foster program, please be a lifesaver for the puppies or kittens by caring for them until they are 8 weeks or 2 pounds. During this time, we will provide you with information on how to care for puppies or kittens, provide you with basic supplies for care (based upon availability), and keep them on a waitlist for foster if they are candidates for the program. In this case, we will waive the intake surrender fee.

If you have trapped or found a mother cat and kittens outside, they may not qualify for our adoption program. Some factors that we have to consider are:

  • Mother cat is feral, which is an outside cat that has not been socialized with humans and her kittens are born outside and have not been socialized within the first 4 to 6 weeks. If this is the case we would recommend our trap-neuter-release program for both the mother and the kittens if they are over 8 weeks and not socialized.
  • We may be able to take certain kittens if they are socialized and can be weaned from the mother, making them good candidates for adoption.

This is a non-refundable fee paid at the evaluation time if the pet is to be surrendered, then or in a few weeks when space opens. We will not ask for a fee if the pet is not considered a candidate for AWA’s adoption programs.

Dogs or a single puppy – $50 per adult dog or single puppy
Cats or a single kitten– $20 per single adult cat or single kitten
Rabbits & Small Animals – $15 per single pet
Litters of kittens or puppies – $50 (this is three or more kittens or puppies surrendered during one appointment/session.)

Please note: Surrender fees will be changing on 11/1/18

Please call if you have additional questions- 856-424-2288

Understand that being in a shelter is stressful for your pet. No matter how many walks, treats, and outstanding staff and volunteers help your pet, a shelter is not a home. There is a broken bond and fear. Sometimes a pet is able to adjust quickly, and other times the stress causes the pet to shut down. We will contact you if your pet’s medical or behavioralhealth is compromised and ask that you reclaim your pet or foster your pet until he or she is well.

  • Your pet may be re-assessed during his/her stay at our adoption center and his/her status of adoptability may change. You may be notified sometime after bringing your pet in if this happens.
  • We recognize people do change their minds. If you surrender your pet and then find him or her a new home, we will work with you to return him for re-homing. If the animal is returned to you, spay/neuter, microchip and license fees, if applicable, will be charged to you prior to your pet being released by AWA.