Abandoned pets and plants that are released into the wild may become a serious problem. Never release unwanted home or classroom pets, animals, or plants into the wild, such as rivers, streams, lakes, or stormwater ponds.

Most unwanted pets will not survive in the wild and may suffer before death. If it does manage to survive, it may harm the environment and businesses. 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 may take to avoid to releasing your unwanted pet. For example:

  • Research the life cycles and specific needs of exotic pets before buying or adopting one. If you see potential issues in caring for your pet in the long-term, consider getting a different one.
  • Become knowledgeable about regulated aquatic invasive animals and aquatic noxious weeds, visit the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Web site to learn about aquatic animals and the Washington Department 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.
  • Call 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-servs, or online classified ads may 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 humane manner, as a last resort.

Where to Rehome Your pet

If you need help caring for or rehoming your exotic pet, see the map below of our partners in the Don’t Let It Loose campaign, including pet stores, vet clinics, and animal rescues and shelters. Some of these partner organizations are able to take in unwanted pets, while some only may offer advice about how to care for your pet or what you can do instead of releasing it. You must contact the location to see if it can take in your pet; do not drop off pets without coordinating with the organization. The embedded map below may not show up in certain browsers. If it doesn’t load, click here to see the map full-screen.

Zoom in slightly to start seeing the points on the map, and please note that it may take a minute for points to load! Click on a point to see its name, location, contact information, etc.


Don’t Let it Loose Pledge: English | Spanish