Big Kid

Talking To Your Kids About Rehoming Your Pet

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rehoming your pet

Image: iStock / bernardbodo

For most people, a pet is another member of their family. A furry friend who’s been there for them through good times and bad. Someone always there for a cuddle when you’re feeling down, or to do something to cheer you up. We have two cats and two dogs of our own, and I literally could not imagine life without them! My girls have grown up with our dogs, and they love them as fiercely as they love me. But for some families, there may come a time when your beloved pet has to be rehomed. It’s an incredibly difficult decision, and there may be lots of reasons that make it the best decision for your family. But talking to your kids about rehoming your pet can be a really hard thing to do. These tips on having that talk with your kids may help.

Rehoming your pet is not an easy decision. The most important thing to remember is that honesty with your kids is the best policy.

There are so many reasons your pet may have to go live in a new home. Maybe the new baby is allergic. Or perhaps your cat or dog has been behaving aggressively toward the kids. Sometimes families fall on hard times, and need to move or cut expenses in order to stay afloat. Whatever the reason may be, it’s important to be honest with your kids when you talk to them about rehoming your pet. Kids have a unique way of knowing exactly when you’re hiding something or not being completely truthful. If you’re open and honest about the reason, it will help them process the loss, too. They won’t be wondering if they did something wrong or caused the change in any way.

Do your research and have a plan in place before talking to your kids about rehoming your pet.

If at all possible, try to find another family that you know who will take your pet, or an animal foster and adoption agency who can facilitate placement. While some circumstances may force you to act quickly and surrender your pet to a shelter, finding a compassionate, loving home can make the transition easier for everyone involved. By having a plan in place before telling the kids, you can answer all the questions they’ll likely have, and calm their fears and worries by telling them exactly who will be loving their pet once they leave the home.

Involve your kids in the process.

Introduce them to the family with whom your pet will be living, and give your kids a chance to get to know them before their pet moves in with them. A lot of kids struggle with the idea of their fur buddy going to live with a stranger, so spend some time allowing them to get acquainted with the new family. You may also want to ask the new family to provide pictures or updates on occasion. That way, your kids can see firsthand that their pet is happy and well-loved.

Don’t try to rush them through their grieving process.

Losing a pet is sad! And if your kids were especially close to or fond of the family pet, it can be a really hard adjustment for them. Don’t discourage their emotions, and allow them to be sad and grieve their pet being gone. When they want to talk about their pet, listen and share stories and memories with them. Remembering their pet and reflecting on all the good times they had with them can help with your kids’ grieving process.

Rehoming your pet is hard, and it can be so much harder on kids. Hopefully these tips helps make that transition just a bit easier.