Families have good intentions when they adopt a dog, but sometimes the dog just isn’t a good fit.

I wrote a post about returning a rescue or shelter dog, and the following is a specific example of a family that chose to return a dog due to separation anxiety.

Karen Tong said she adopted a 3-year-old chocolate Lab mix through a local rescue group and named him Sundance. They are pictured together below.

“He was a great dog and well behaved, but when we left the house, he experienced severe separation anxiety and was destructive,” she said.

She tried crating him in a metal crate, but he was able to bend the bars and escape. One day, he escaped and then clawed and chewed his way through the bedroom door.

“There was about $1,000 of damage to our home that night, including having to replace an entire bedroom of berber carpet,” she said.

returning a rescue dog

“Since we both worked full time, we realized that we didn’t have what this dog needed. We couldn’t stay home with him all the time, and we didn’t have, or want, another dog for company.”

Returning a rescue dog

Because of Sundance’s severe separation anxiety, Tong realized they didn’t have the time or resources he needed.

Sundance the rescue chocolate Lab

“We worked on it with him over a week or so, but the destruction became too much,” she said. “Once the crate couldn’t keep him safe, we were concerned about him hurting himself when we were at work.”

She ended up returning Sundance to the rescue so the group could find him a family to better suit his needs.

“We were really heartbroken and felt like total failures,” she said.

Luckily, the group was able to find Sundance a new home with another dog and a stay-at-home mom.

“He has lots of company.”

Finding the right dog

A month or so later, Tong was asked to foster another chocolate Lab through the same rescue group. He was about 6 years old. (And points to this rescue group for encouraging her to consider a different dog!)

After a month or so, she decided to make it official and adopt the dog, who she named Chip (pictured below).

“He’s still with us and is about 14-and-a-half years old now!” she said, adding that Chip was “so worth the wait.”

Advice for others in a similar situation

No matter how you obtain a dog, Tong suggests you try to get as much history about the dog as you can before adopting. She also recommends you try fostering the dog first if possible.

“But also, be realistic,” she said. “If you can’t give the dog what it needs, then it’s not fair to keep it.”

In hindsight, she said she’s glad she gave Sundance back to the rescue so the group could quickly find him the home he needed.

Chip the 14 year old Chocolate Lab

Plus, returning Sundance led her to Chip.

“I’m so glad we ended up adopting a middle-age dog who is now a relaxed, mellow senior lab,” she said. “He is the perfect pet for us.”

Have any of you ever had to return a rescue dog?

Related posts:
Questions to ask before adopting a dog

How to choose a dog from a kill shelter

Returning a foster dog