Re-homing Your Pet
Most shelters are full to capacity, especially in the hot season. When the weather warms up people get mobile and leave pets behind, and unwanted litters are born. “A pet is for life” and “spay or neuter” are old maxims. But once there’s an animal or a litter in need of a home, those words are moot. And sometimes things happen to dash the best of plans. So, if you have a pet you can’t keep and the shelters are bulging, what do you do now?
First, if there’s a problem such as soiling or destructive behaviour, research solutions. A vet is the person to advise on problems with a physical cause. Animal rescuers and the internet are good for suggestions on handling behavioural problems. If someone is allergic, talk to your doctor about allergy shots and antihistamines. Give it another couple of months and try solutions. If they don’t work, then surrendering the animal to a shelter after the summer rush ends will increase his chances of adoption.
If you need another home for the pet immediately, try it on your own first. Shelters already have more animals than they can adopt out, so spare your pet the trauma of a crowded shelter. Put the word out to friends and co-workers. Get a photo of your pet and make ads to post in vets’ offices and pet supply stores. Nearly all of them have bulletin boards. Post on the public bulletin board at your church, gym or school too. If you don’t find a home that way, the next thing to try is an ad in newspapers and other local publications.
Above all, don’t say “free to a good home”. Although it seems awful to set a price on your pet, people tend to value what they pay for. Studies have shown that animals who were purchased were less likely to be given up. Free pets are more like to be abandoned or marginally owned so they roam the streets day and night and are fed only when someone remembers. Free pets are also more likely to be “adopted” by people looking for live food for exotic pets, or by people known as bunchers who gather animals to sell for research. Have the pet altered and inoculated and charge at least those costs. While we’re talking about dubious adoptions, never rehome your black cat in October. Wait until Halloween is over.
When you’re talking to a prospective adopter, ask about their other pets and just listen. This is the best way to evaluate them as owners. If their pets slept at the foot of the bed, went with them on every vacation and died at a ripe old age then you’re probably on to something good. If the pet needed a few shots of water from the hose to stop crying in the back yard all night, then you’ll want to pass on this home. Ask if the landlord approves. Ask how old are any kids in the house… you know the kind of home your pet needs. In the end, go with your gut. If something doesn’t seem right, point out that your pet is not compatible with their needs. For example, if they were overly concerned about mess, explain that the pet will always shed fur.
Lastly, be honest with yourself about your pet’s chances for adoption and read the information found here. If he’s very old or in poor health then the trauma of losing his home and starting over may be more than he can take. Sometimes one last trip to the vet and going to sleep in the arms of a loved one is better than fading away in a shelter.