Re-homing a Pet

When You Can’t Keep Your Pet – Tips for Finding the Right Home

We understand that sometimes a pet just isn’t able to stay in his/her home. Perhaps the owner has passed away and no family member is able to care for the pet. Or perhaps two dogs are fighting and hurting each other so much that (after consulting with a professional behaviorist) the safest thing is really to re-home one of the dogs. Whatever the reason, we want you to have the tools and information needed to find a good home for your pet.

Tips to help your pet find a humane new home:

  • Advertise through friends, neighbors, and local veterinarians (see specific advertising suggestions below).
  • If you got your pet from a breeder, shelter, or rescue group, contact them and ask if you are able (or obligated) to return the pet.
  • If you have a purebred, contact the area rescue groups to see if they have space.  Note: generally these groups rescue animals directly from shelters (and not from individual homes), as sheltered animals are at greater risk for being euthanized.
  • Spay or neuter your pet, if you have not already done so.
  • Ensure your pet is up to date on vaccinations.
  • Wash and groom your pet before taking pictures or showing your pet to potential adopters.
  • Write a short description of your pet’s history, including veterinary visits, favorite treats and toys, diet, likes and dislikes, etc.
  • Screen all potential adopters and ask them to complete an adoption application. Here are some examples of questions to ask:
    • What is your experience with pets? Do you currently own any pets? Provide information about them (type of animal, age, living conditions).
    • Do you rent or own your home? If you rent your home, are pets allowed?
    • How much time are you at home, and what arrangements will you make for a pet when you are away or if you become ill?
    • Have you ever had to re-home a pet or surrender a pet to a shelter? Why?
    • Does anyone in your home have allergies?
    • May I visit your home before placing my pet there?
    • May I have permission to speak directly to your veterinarian about your history with animals?

Best practices for advertising your pet:

  • Be honest. You want your pet to find a forever home, so be upfront about any behavioral challenges that might be dealbreakers for potential new owners.
  • Charge a nominal fee for your pet. Please do not give him/her away “free to a good home.” You have invested time, energy, love, and the cost of basic needs and medical care. Asking a small fee will not deter good families, but may weed out unscrupulous folks.
  • Make flyers with your pet’s photo and your contact information. Ask your vet to post them in his/her office. Put them up at work. Ask to post them at local pet stores and grooming establishments. Post them at your church, on community bulletin boards, and at grocery stores. Give them to your friends and family and ask that they post them wherever they can.
  • Post a picture of your flyer (or a carefully worded announcement) on Facebook and ask your friends to “share” it. Be sure to protect your privacy and safety, of course.
  • Make an ad on Craigslist – being careful for your safety and that of your pet, just as you would in any public online community.
  • Place a carefully worded classified advertisement in your local or regional paper.
  • Contact local rescue groups to see if any have available space or can assist by doing a courtesy posting of your pet on their website or social media sites.

When all else fails, or the pet needs to be placed immediately:

  • Ask family or a friend to take your pet for a short period, while you make permanent arrangements.
  • Board your pet at a reputable establishment while you make permanent arrangements.
  • Surrender your pet to the Napa County Animal Shelter. A shelter is not an ideal place for any pet, but in cases where immediate placement is needed, an animal shelter may be the best the pet’s best chance.  Please call 707.253.4382 for information about surrendering your pet to the Napa County Animal Shelter.

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