The heartbreaking decision to give up a pet

Too often, people are in a position where they must surrender a much loved pet due to veterinary costs they cannot afford, a change in circumstances that means a pet can no longer be accommodated, or behavioural issues they cannot manage.

At Lort Smith in Melbourne, the staff and volunteers know people make the often heartbreaking decision to surrender a pet for any number of reasons – it is unkind to judge people in this situation.

Lort Smith recently had a four-month-old domestic shorthair kitten admitted to Lort Smith Animal Hospital. The kitten, named Milk, had fallen from a two-storey apartment balcony. The impact caused head trauma, kidney bruising and a leg fracture that required surgery.

Milk’s carer simply could not afford the thousands of dollars required, and made the painful choice to give him up instead. Milk received the medical attention he needed from Lort Smith and is now in a new home – a happy ending from a hard decision.

Milk was surrendered when his carer could not afford the surgery costs from an accident.

Another common reason for surrendering a pet is when people move into aged-care facilities. This can be especially upsetting for people and their pets. People in these situations who are forced to give up a much-loved pet are often devastated, and they go through a grieving process not unlike when a pet passes away.

It is rare for people to give up their pet on a whim or because they simply don’t care. No matter the reason, it is important to accept the task of finding a new home for any animal without judgment.

In tough times, part of being a responsible pet owner is being aware of what is best for your animal’s health and wellbeing – then being willing to make mature and sometimes hard decisions, should the situation arise.

Lort Smith is based at North Melbourne in Victoria. Its veterinary hospital, adoption centre and outreach services exist to improve the health and happiness of animals and the people who care for them. These services have touched the lives of more than 1,000,000 animals and countless people – particularly those who are marginalised, vulnerable or disadvantaged. 

To support their work, please visit

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