While I am an advocate of not rehoming your pet, with the utmost belief that it is no different than rehoming a child, I do also acknowledge reality. Life happens, and sometimes it happens at your, and your pet’s, expense. There are times when the situation is impossible, and completely out of your control, such as you becoming gravely ill, homeless and bankrupt, or you develop a life threatening allergy.
If this were your situation, I’d like to share what I know so that you might rehome your beloved pet with a quieter heart and lessened guilt.
Where do I start?
Step One – Always start with the people you know, who your pet knows, who care about you both. Those are the people most likely to love your pet the way you do. Your network of close friends and family are your best resource for rehoming Bitsy the Kitty or Bubsy the Bulldog.
Step Two – Non Profit Animal Rescue Societies – breed specific or general. Rescues in general are operated by volunteers with gigantic hearts, who put in the time and effort for the love of the animals. They often have large networks of contacts, as well as the experience to make good pet/home matches. In fact, I could even honestly say, most of us prefer dog slobber, or scooping a kitty litter to the companionship of most of our own species. We love them that much!
Step Three – Rehoming your four legged friend yourself, this means advertising in newspapers, and on websites. The best sites in my knowledge are Craigslist and Kijiji, but a local Pet Rescue operation may be willing to post your pet on their site or blog as well.
How can I make sure my pet is going to a good home?
There are several methods to ensure your pet is going to a safe home with people of solid character. To be frank, I like to employ ALL of them.
Firstly, draw up an application. Ask for full names, numbers, addresses, employers, and references. Ask for the name, location, and phone number of their current vet. Ask how many current pets they have, if any. Ask how long they’ve had these pets, or if they’ve ever had to rehome or euthanize, and why.
Ask questions specific to your pet’s current life style. “My cat is an indoor only cat, will you take care in keeping him indoors, or will you allow him out?’ If they answer yes to outdoors, or that they are used to indoor outdoor cats, you probably don’t want to choose them. Or, “My dog eats only high quality grain free dog food, what will you feed her?” If they don’t seem terribly concerned with what your dog eats, or will eat, move to the next applicant.
We can’t be certain people will be 100% honest, but if you ask the right questions, followed with the next couple of steps, you will have a better picture of the applicants home, and their character.
Secondly, draw up an Adoption Application that they MUST sign. Include all their information, state your wishes for your pet, such as ‘must sleep indoors’ and what you would like them to do in the event that they should need to rehome him again. Don’t let your pet go unless their new owners sign the contract. If something goes wrong, or you find out they have done something to the pet you gave them, you need that contract for legal purposes; to get the pet back should you have proof of abuse.
Thirdly, DO A HOME CHECK! Meet the entire family. Take a thorough accounting of the home. If you are rehoming a dog, take her for a few visits before the pet passes hands or anything is signed. See how the potential adopters interact with her in a neutral zone, and in their own home. Important: If you don’t feel right about ANYTHING, don’t go through with the adoption.
Fourthly, ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOUR PET IS FIXED BEFORE REHOMING, so breeding cannot occur. The number of homeless pets, and pets on death row at pet shelters worldwide is a disgrace, so don’t add to it!
This may all seem overly extensive, and silly. But I assure you, if you are truly love your pet, and if you could have it any other way but rehoming, you WILL put in the effort. Anything to make sure your furry baby moves on to a home that deserves him or her.
If any potential adopter scoffs at any one of these requests (always make them requests rather than demands), move on from them straight away, and don’t look back. Someone who truly desires to give an animal the best home, all the health and happiness he can handle, and security, WILL jump the hoops with a smile on their face. I have seen it both ways time and time again.
If you’re reading this because you’ve been forced to this decision, I am truly sorry. I hope this helps in some way, and I wish I could hug you. All the very best to you and your Pal.
Cat & Dog Behaviorist