If you have made the decision that you can no longer keep your pet, finding a new home and family for your pet is the best thing you can do for them. Your pet will be less stressed staying in familiar surroundings until he/she is in a new home. Here are some helpful tips to get you started on a search for the best new place for your pet to call home. With careful consideration, time, and effort you may be able to find a great home for your pet.
Before You Start
- 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 adopted. Fixed animals are also less likely to be desired by people looking to adopt an animal for the wrong reasons an will help stop irresponsible 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 not willing to 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 forever home. Dog Personality Profile Cat Personality Profile
- Ask your vet to print out your pet’s medical history.
- Take your pet to a groomer. A pretty and clean pet is a more adoptable pet!
- Take a great photo of 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 ask ten friends 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.
- 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. NetPets has a webpage with a list of rescue organizations by breed and state, visit http://www.netpets.com/dogs/dogresc/doggrp.html. The American Kennel Club also has a list of parent breed rescue organizations which may be able to refer you to a local breed rescue group – http://www.akc.org/breeds/rescue.cfm. Please be aware that many breed rescue groups only work with shelters and do not accept pets directly from owners. Also be sure to screen the rescue before giving up your pet – make sure the current animals they care for look well cared for and ask about their adoption policies and how they place pets in their care.
- 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.
- 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.
- Shelters and rescue organizations. You can contact adoption centers in your area and ask their intake policies. Some shelters and rescue organizations will only take an animal if they know they can find it a home. Many shelters are filled to capacity and have long waiting lists. They receive a large amount of calls each day, especially for surrendering older cats. Time, politeness and patience is key. To find a list of shelters to call, go http://www.petfinder.com/ and type in the type of animal you have and zip code. It is a good idea to check an organizations facilities before surrendering your pet to any organization.
Screening Potential Adopters
- Charge a small adoption fee. Free to a good home ads often attract people looking to turn a profit from your pet instead of providing them with a good home. For example, “bunchers” are people who make a living by gathering animals and selling them to research laboratories.
- Make a list of what you feel is important for your dog or cat. 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 him/her. 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. For ideas on what to ask people interested in your pet – click here to see our adoption application.
- 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.
- Be willing to take your pet back if the placement does not work out.
- Trust your instincts.
Please don’t abandon your pet. They are not better off fending for themselves. Companion animals are dependent on you to make a responsible decision if you can no longer care for them.
If you are interested in surrendering your pet to the MSPCA, click here.