However, whether that pet is a rabbit, cat, dog, lizard, turtle, fish, bird, or any creature, no animal should ever be released "into the wild" when it can no longer be cared for in its home. Animals that are pets, including exotic species like snakes, birds, and turtles, have often lost their ability to care for themselves without human assistance. They also may come from different native habitats than where they are released, making death almost certain. Warm blooded animals, including ferrets, cats, and dogs, are at risk for rabies and other diseases. Any pet released into an outdoor resource area is unlikely to be safe for long.
Releasing pets into the outdoors is also unsafe for native plants and animals. Animals from pet stores or homes can bring new diseases into native wild populations, creating widespread illness. Also, some animals, such as red earred sliders, a common pet turtle, can actually move into a native species' habitat, crowding them out of their own homes. Larger animals, such as cats or dogs, can also do significant damage to other wildlife in the area in their search for something to eat.
Unfortunately, at Sheep Pasture we have had several experiences where people have chosen to leave former pets outdoors to fend for themselves. In all cases we hear of, we try to recapture the animals and bring them to an appropriate shelter, but some we simply cannot find before it's too late. We strongly encourage anyone who may not be able to keep an animal of any kind to seek appropriate organizations that can help to find a new home for your animal. The NRT's website has an entire page dedicated to animal resources, in the event that someone needs assistance finding a place to bring an animal they are not able to keep .
Different organizations specialize in different types of animals, but all organizations can generally refer you to another group if they are unable to help. If you need assistance, please refer to the NRT's Animal Resources page, contact your local animal control office, or call your local animal shelter organization. Although it can be a difficult call to make, using the available organizations and resources is the best option for finding a new home for your pet.