If you have made the difficult decision that you can no longer keep your pet, finding a new home for them yourself is a good option. Your animal will be less stressed staying in familiar surroundings until they are in a new home. Here are some helpful tips to get you started on a search for the best new family for your animal. With careful consideration, time, and effort you may be able to find a great home for your pet.
Before You Start
- Don’t wait until the last minute: If you know your circumstances are changing and that keeping your pet is no longer a good option, don’t wait until the last minute to try to rehome your pet. Finding a new home that is the right fit may take some time, and you do not want to feel rushed into such an important decision. While you likely want to keep your pet with you as long as possible, you are more likely to find the perfect match if you start early.
- Make sure your pet is up to date on vaccinations and is spayed or neutered. Animals that are spayed or neutered are much more likely to be desired by conscientious owners. A sterilized animal has lower likelihood of health or behavior issues that may make the rehoming a poor match, and eliminates accidental breeding.•Evaluate your pet’s adoption potential. You will need to be realistic in your own expectations. Older, larger animals are more difficult to find homes for. If your pet has a medical or behavioral problem that you are unable to treat or address, you must consider that a potential adopter is not likely to want to take on that responsibility either.
- Fill out a personality profile/animal history form to let interested people know more about your pet. Be honest – creating realistic expectations is the best way to ensure a new home is a good match.
- Ask your vet for an electronic version of your pet’s medical history, that way you can share this with the adopters via email.
- Take your pet to a groomer. A clean pet is a more adoptable pet!
- Take a great photo of your pet. High quality, color photos of your pet will attract the interest of potential adopters. Showcase their colors and patterns with full body shots, as well as a close up of their face. Pictures portraying them in their favorite places (the beach, a grassy backyard, a cozy bed) or playing their favorite games will also help people connect with your pet.
Spreading the Word
- Start with your circle: Friends, family and people that you work with are the best way to start. Ask them to spread the word and share on their social media as well.
- Contact the breeder/individual/shelter/rescue group where you acquired your pet. They may be willing to take your pet back or assist you in finding him/her a new home.
- Check out rehoming websites like “Rehome” via the website adoptapet.com may be a good place to connect with potential adopters.
- Place signs at the Veterinarian’s Office, Pet Supply Store, Grooming Shops, Grocery Stores, Churches, Gym, School etc. Include a color photo in the advertisement and description of your pet along with contact information. If your pet is spayed or neutered, be sure to mention this. Give copies to your friends and family and ask them to do the same.
- Utilize local social media pages Local Facebook groups and community websites like NextDoor may be a place to find a neighbor looking for a pet like yours. Post a photo of your animal, a brief reason why you can no longer keep them, and what kind of home they would do best in.
- Place a free classified ad. Pay for an ad in the local paper. Include a color photo in the advertisement and description of your pet along with contact information. If your pet is spayed or neutered, be sure to mention this.
- Got a purebred? Try breed rescues. If you have a purebred dog or cat you may be able to find a rescue organization that specializes in helping dogs or cats of that breed. You can search for breed rescues in your area by visiting http://www.petfinder.com/ and looking for dogs of a certain breed near your zip code. AKC has a webpage with a list of rescue organizations by breed and region which may be able to refer you to a local breed rescue group https://www.akc.org/akc-rescue-network/ Please be aware that many breed rescue groups only work directly with shelters and may not accept pet surrenders directly from owners.
- Shelters and rescue organizations. You can contact adoption centers in your area and ask about their intake policies. Some shelters and rescue organizations will only take an animal if they know they can find it a home. Some shelters are overwhelmed with surrender requests and may have long waiting lists. They receive a large amount of calls each day, especially for surrendering older animals or animals with medical or behavioral issues. Time, politeness and patience is key. The Massachusetts Department of Agriculture has a list of animal adoption organizations approved.
Screening Potential Adopters
- Charge a small adoption fee. Free to a good home ads may attract people looking to turn a profit from your pet instead of providing them with a good home. Legitimate adopters will expect to pay something to acquire a new animal and should not be deterred by a modest fee.
- Make a list of what you feel is important for your pet. Review the list and be realistic – no home will be perfect but you should come up with an idea of what you are looking for and why. A good home is one in which your pet will receive love, attention, veterinary care, and proper access to food and water. The potential owner should be looking to make your pet part of their family.
- Have a conversation. Explain that you love your pet and want to find a permanent and happy place for them. Talk with the prospective adopter over the phone about their other or old pets – this is a good way to gauge what kind of pet owner they are. Some ideas for what to ask people interested in your pet
- How active is their lifestyle and household?
- What kind of energy level are they looking for in their new pet?
- What are some of their favorite qualities in a current or previous pet they have owned?
- What is something they would change about a current or previous pet they have owned?
- Do they currently have other pets?
- Do they have children or do children frequently visit their home?
- How often will the pet be left alone and where will the pet stay when they are home alone?
- Where will the pet sleep at night?
- What plans do they have for caring for the pet while they are away on vacation?
- Pay a visit. Whenever possible, bring your animal to their home. It is a good idea to have prospective owners meet your pet and also for you to see their apartment or home in order to see the environment your pet will be living in and how he/she reacts.
- Get ID information. Ask for a potential adopters name, address, phone number and make sure they can verify this information with a valid ID.
- Check references. If they have a pet or have had one recently in the past – ask the name of their veterinarian and contact them.
- Make a contract. Create a mutually agreed upon contract. You may want to include line items such as; Future veterinary care is the responsibility of the new owner, agreement to contact you first if the pet does not work out and they need to rehome them
- Be willing to take your pet back if the placement does not work out. Don’t consider this a failure! If their first placement does not work out, this just gives you more information about what to look for in their next home.
- Trust your instincts. If a person or situation does not seem right, it is up to you to make good decisions on behalf of your pet. It is ok to say “no” to a potential adopter.
Companion animals are dependent on you to make a responsible decision if you can no longer care for them. Please use this advice to try to find a new home for your pet.
If you are interested in surrendering your pet to the MSPCA, click here.