Owner Surrender

Owner surrender can be a difficult. Our philosophy is that we do not judge, and we are actually very thankful when we get a new surrender. We are always glad to see owners trust us with taking care of their pet. Below is a surrender form as well as some guidance in making this difficult decision.

Please complete the following form to to learn more about the surrender process. By completing the form, there is NO obligation to surrender. The form is simply to inquire for more information.

How to decide…

The first step in deciding if you want to surrender your tortoise is to evaluate your situation and do your research. If you find yourself in a position where you no longer can care for your tortoise or you feel the tortoise deserves better, the next step is deciding what methods of rehoming will result in your tortoise finding the best home. There is no doubt, you will be able to find a new home on craigslist or facebook groups. In some cases, if the owner is diligent about quizzing and selecting interested parties, indeed, good homes can be found. However, there is typically no contract signed and no follow up inquiries. You will likely lose contact with your tortoise forever. They live a very long time! Won’t you be curious where they ended up or if they are still living in the future?

Considerations for rehoming…

The next option is to find an organization, like ourselves, who are experienced in finding the best homes and have the assumed and expected authority (by the adopters) to ask all the appropriate questions and to require signed adoption contracts. Contracts are a legally binding document that outlines the appropriate care, including adequate space, lighting, heat, shelter, food, security, and veterinary care, that the adopters must provide. The contract also states the adopters can not use the animal for commercial breeding and they can not rehome or sell the animal to anyone else. In fact, the contract states that if they ever feel they can no longer care for the tortoise, they must contact us and we have the right to take the tortoise back into our rescue at no cost to us. Basically, the contract allows for our rescue to retain partial rights. If we have the tortoise in our care prior to adoption, we will ask a small adoption fee. However, we prefer the owner hold onto the tortoise while we search for homes. We conduct the screening of potential adopters, and present you with a few good options – ultimately you will make the final decision where the tortoise ends up. Once we agree on the appropriate home and all paperwork is completed by both parties (surrender forms and adoption contracts), then I will connect the two parties to arrange for the exchange on their own time. Since we only play the “middle-man” in these situations, we do not ask any adoption fees. So, we do not benefit financially from these situations in anyway, but are always willing to help you in the rehoming process!

Considering our sanctuary as a forever home…

The final option is to surrender the tortoise to our sanctuary. This would mean that we keep the tortoise under our care. We, of course, cannot accept every tortoise needing a home, but we do our best to accommodate for those interested in this option. In fact, most of the tortoises under our care currently are part of the sanctuary and are sponsored. Priority is given to those willing to sponsor their own tortoise for $15 per month, which can be set up as an automatic payment plan. Those that offer sponsorship are also given updates, photos, and opportunities to keep in contact with their tortoise. We often do video live-streaming of the tortoise pens, and will be sure to set this up for sponsored tortoises so the previous owners can check in on their tortoises. This is not meant to be used as a boarding service (the owner would eventually want to take the tortoise back), and only under very unique situations would we consider this. Please email us to inquire about such possibility.

What happens when we take in a surrendered tortoise….

So, you’ve decided we are the best place to surrender to. But what’s next for your tortoise? When we take in a tortoise, we do an initial exam – What is the weight and length? Does the tortoise appear healthy or needing immediate veterinary care? Does it have a long beak / nails? How is the condition of the shell? Does it make noises when breathing or does it blow bubbles? Is it eating well? If any red-flags go up, we take it to the most reputable reptile vet in the state of Iowa (I can provide you with contact info if you are looking for a vet yourself), and follow any advice from the vet. All tortoises are treated by us for any parasites / worms, if necessary. All tortoises that need beak trims are done by us. Once these initial checks are done, we give them a nice soak and a good meal (if they will take it) and let them be for a while, with minimal stress, while they get used to their new environment. Please refer to the “Tortoise Care” page for more details on the basic care we provide for our tortoises.

If you still have questions about surrender, please contact us at bigandsmalltortoise@gmail.com