Don't Let It Loose
Abandoned pets and plants that are released into the wild can become a serious problem. Never release unwanted home or classroom pets, animals, or plants into the wild, such as rivers, streams, lakes, or storm water ponds.
Most unwanted pets will not survive in the wild and may suffer before death. If it does manage to survive, it can harm the environment and economy. Invasive species cost the United States billions of dollars each year. Some of the most devastating invasive species originally were sold as pets or plants for gardens, ponds, and aquariums.
Actions You Can Take
There are actions you take to avoid to releasing your unwanted pet. For example:
- Research the life cycles and specific needs of exotic pets before purchasing or adopting one. If you see potential issues in caring for your exotic pet in the long-term, consider getting a diffierent pet.
- Become knowledgeable about regulated aquatic invasive animals and aquatic noxious weeds, visit the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's website to learn about aquatic animals and the Washington Departgment of Ecology's website to learn about aquatic noxious weeds.
- If your unwanted pet or plant is an invasive species or noxious weed, contact the Washington Invasive Species Council for assistance in properly managing the issue.
- Bring your pet to an animal shelter, sanctuary, or humane society, and see if they will take it.
- See if a friend or someone else would be willing to adopt your pet. Using social media, community list-serves, or online classified ads can be helpful.
- If you are a teacher, use an adoption pledge form (English and Spanish), where students and parents volunteer to take the pet home, with the understanding that they will not release it into the wild.
- Contact the store where you purchased the animal to see if they will take it back.
- Contact your local science center, zoo, or aquarium to see if they can use the animal for educational purposes.
- Dry and freeze unwanted aquatic plant material and dispose of it as trash. Do not compost the material.
- Have a qualified veterinarian euthanize the animal in a human manner, as a last resort.
Other agencies and organizations have developed similar messaging in other Pacific Northwestern States and Provinces:
- Oregon Invasive Species Council
- Idaho Invasive Species Council
- Dontletitloose.com (Montana)
- Invasive Species Council of British Columbia
- Alberta Environment and Parks
- Western Aquatic Invasive Species Network
See more information on preventing the spread of invasive species by visiting our Washington Invasive Species Education Web site.