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Re-homing a pet

Although owning a pet should theoretically be for life, sometimes re-homing a pet is a necessity. There are many valid reasons for which someone may need to give up a pet: death of the owner, moving to a new home where pets are not allowed, unmanageable allergies, conflict between pets, changes in family finances, etc.

Giving up a pet is never easy, but there are things you can do to make the transition as successful as possible for your pet and for yourself. You will need to give yourself plenty of time to find a new home for your pet that you are comfortable with.

Here are some tips to help you find your pet the best possible new home.

Start with who you know

Spread the word among friends, family, neighbours and your veterinarian first, as the probability of finding a good home is better when someone you know acts as a reference for the new owner.

Some local animal rescue groups will help pet owners looking to re-home their pets by posting profiles of the animals on their websites. Breed clubs may be able to help with placing a dog.

Newspaper and online ads: proceed with caution

If you are thinking of placing an ad online or in the newspaper to find your pet a new home, be aware that there are people who answer ads (particularly “free to a good home” ads) with the intention of breeding the animal, reselling it, or subjecting it to inhumane activities such as dog fighting. These disreputable people may even bring children with them when picking up pets to fool unsuspecting owners.

No free givewaways

Always ask for some monetary amount, especially if you are considering re-homing your pet with someone who you do not know well. This may be a deterrent for people who have sinister motives for taking your animal, such as wanting to use a dog as bait for dog fighting or even selling the animal for research.

Spay or neuter first

If you have not already spayed or neutered your pet, you should do so before seeking to re-home him or her. This will make adopting your pet easier, while ensuring that he or she will not contribute to pet overpopulation and will not be adopted by someone seeking to breed animals for profit.

Visit the homes of prospective new owners

It is important to get a feel for the surroundings where your pet may be living. Your pet is a part of your family and you want to ensure that he or she will be well cared for in a new home. If anyone refuses to allow you to visit their home, do not trust your pet with them.

When visiting the homes of prospective owners or allowing them into your home, be mindful of the personal safety of yourself and your family.

Interview and sign a contract

Do not be shy about asking questions. The more information you can gather about the family, the more informed your decision will be. This will ultimately make your pet’s new life a happier and healthier experience. If the prospective owner truly cares about animals, he or she will understand and appreciate that you are trying to find a good home for your beloved pet.

Here are a few questions to ask and things to consider when interviewing potential new owners:

  • If the home includes other pets or children, will your pet get along with them?
  • Has the person had pets before? If so, ask about them and what happened to them.
  • Where do they plan on keeping a new pet? Inside? Outside? Chained up? Allowed to roam free?
  • Will the prospective owner(s) be adequately prepared and knowledgeable to care for the animal?
  • Does the person or family’s lifestyle fit with the needs of the animal?

If your pet is ill or has behavioural problems, you must disclose this information to potential new owners, as you want to ensure they are willing and able to deal with these issues.

Always ask for and check references before handing your pet over to a new owner. It is also a good idea to sign a contract outlining specific requirements as conditions of the adoption. These conditions must be agreed upon by both parties and should include a clause requiring the new owner(s) to inform you if they decide to give up the pet in the future. Also as a precaution, ask for valid contact information from the new owner.

Don’t forget the shelter option

Your local humane society or SPCA… has qualified staff who are trained to screen and counsel prospective adopters. If you cannot find someone who you trust to provide a suitable home for your pet, relinquishing your pet to your local shelter may be the best option. However, we recommend that you do try to find a home for your pet first, as animal shelters already have many animals to care for, and they cannot guarantee that your pet will be adopted, especially if it’s an elderly animal.


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