This article is to help you choose the right home for your pet. Re-homing pets is difficult on everyone, including the pet in question. Finding the right home can be difficult and time consuming, but it is your responsibility as the current pet owner to take the time to screen potential new homes and make sure the change is a positive one for the well being of your pet. In a perfect world, we would always keep our pets forever, but things happen and sometimes they need to be found new homes. Below is an extensive list of things to look for when searching for a new home, including common “red flags”. Not all of these will apply to every situation, but this list should help you in choosing the best home.
What To Ask, and WHY.
Do you have other pets? What kind? Do they get along well with other animals? Do they have any behavior problems that may be an issue with your pet?
This is important to know in case your pet does not get along well with other certain kinds of pets. Does your dog play too rough with smaller dogs, chase cats, or obsess over birds? If the home has a pet that would not be a good mix with your pet, you need to know this and know how they plan to handle it.
Asking about the behavior of their other pets is a good idea too. Does their other dog get along well with dogs or does it have food aggression issues, doesn’t like sharing toys, etc. Asking this will make the potential adopter think about if getting a new pet is going to be a positive thing for their family and any existing pets.
Ask them to meet at a dog park or to allow you to bring your cat to their home for a playdate with the other pet to be sure they get along. Be aware that first meetings are not always immediately positive, and be patient. If you both really want it to work out, it may take a couple of meetings, especially for cats. Take the time to research the best way to introduce new pets to each other. Have realistic expectations of all the pets involved.
Do you have children/grandchildren? How old are they? If you have children in the future, will you still keep the pet?
Small children and large breed dogs are not always a good mix. Small children and tiny breed dogs are not always a good mix. Children and pets in general are not always a good mix depending on the age and maturity of the child. A new baby and a new pet may be too overwhelming if the potential adopter is pregnant, and your pet will suffer for it when the baby comes. Consider how your pet is around children of all ages, and if the potential adopter has young children, have a play date with the children first to be sure your pet and the child are compatible, and the child knows how to act around your pet. This is also a chance for the parents to see if their child (or them!) is perhaps allergic to your pet.
Be aware of the age of the potential adopter too. Rehoming a pet with a teenager or young adult may not be the best choice unless they are committed to keeping that pet when they go to college, join the military, move out of their parents home, travel, and generally deal with the uncertainty of living arrangements that go hand and hand with being young and on their own for the first time. An elderly adopter may end up in a nursing home with no options for the pet. These are not deal breakers, just things to keep in mind.
Have you researched this particular kind/breed of pet? Are you committed to giving them what they need, and aware of potential health issues the pet may be prone to or behavior issues that can come with change and aging?
Sometimes people are in love with the idea of a pet, but not the reality of it. Large parrots that talk are very cool, but they are also very smart, require a LOT of attention and can be destructive, noisy and high maintenance. They are amazing pets that are definitely not for everyone.
Certain dog breeds require more room, a job, or more attention than others. Some have grooming needs that are expensive and time consuming. Reptiles require special lighting and diets. Some cats are more sensitive than others and may not adjust quickly to a new home.
Make sure they have done their research and are committed to providing what is needed for the pet, as well as willing to work on any behaviors that may arise. Most pets are not going to just immediately adjust to new surroundings, new people, new food, new routines and whatnot with ease. Be sure the potential adopter is willing to work on these issues and not just immediately want to get rid of the pet at the first sign of trouble.
What is your schedule and home life like? Do you have the time to spend with the pet? What if your schedule changes and you have less time to devote…what happens to the pet? Do you have a place for your pet/s when you go out of town?
Adopting your highly energetic dog or needy parrot into a home that works long hours, travels a lot, or moves around may not be the best choice. Ask this question, and make the potential adopter think about if they can really provide a proper long-term home for your pet.
If they travel often, do they have a kennel or pet-sitter they trust? If they work long hours, does the pet get to go outside, get fed or get exercise/attention at all during the daytime? If they suddenly lose their job or are given longer hours, will they make accommodations for the pet or give them away? You want your pet to go into a better situation and a long-term home. If you are giving your pet up due to lack of time to spend with them, be sure their new home has that time to give.
What is your home like? Does it allow pets if you rent? Do you have a secure fenced in yard? Will the pet be an inside or outside pet? Does your city or insurance have laws against certain pets or breeds?
Asking about their home and even doing a home visit is highly advised. If they are not willing to let you into their home or to share this information, there may be a reason. Is the home extremely unkept? If so, they probably won’t take any better care of your pet. Is there a fenced in yard? This is not a deal breaker if there isn’t, but find out how they intend to walk/potty and exercise your dog.
Do they own the home? If not, is the landlord ok with the addition of this pet? If they don’t know, make sure they find out before you consider adopting your pet to them. MANY people post pets for rehoming because their landlord found out about it and doesn’t allow pets. This can go for anything, from a betta fish to a snake to a bird to a dog. Make SURE pets are allowed. Ask for a letter from their landlord stating the pet is allowed. People do lie, and this is a way to be sure they are telling the truth and not trying to be sneaky about something they want.
Is there room for your pet in the home? Its cage/kennel/bed/litterbox? Rehoming a large hyper lab that needs to be crated when the owners are gone into a tiny apartment is not the best decision.
Will your pet be an inside or outside pet? This is especially important to know when adopting to country or farm homes. If the pet will be outside a lot, will it have a properly insulated shelter in winter and a shady area in summer?
Many cities or home insurances do not allow certain breeds or species. Be sure you and the potential adopter are aware of any laws or breed bans that can affect your pet BEFORE you rehome them.
Have you ever rehomed a pet before? What were the reasons for doing so? Is anyone in your household allergic to any kind of pet? Are you sure they are not allergic to this kind of pet?
This question is often looked on as judgmental, and it shouldn’t be. After all, YOU, the person asking the question, is also rehoming a pet. It is a good question to ask simply because it can give you and the potential adopter insight into the long-term placement of the pet. If they gave a pet up because they had a baby, will that happen again? If they gave a pet up because they moved and the new place didn’t allow pets, what happens if they move again?
There are all kinds of good (and bad) reasons for having to rehome a pet. It is not our place to judge, but it IS our place as responsible pet owners to consider how those changes will affect our pet again in the future. If you are giving your pet up because of a move, it is your responsibility to be sure your pet is going into a more stable situation.
It is also a necessity to know ahead of time if everyone in the household has been exposed to your kind of pet before. If this is their first hedgehog, be sure the adults and children in the house have been around hedgehogs and handled them for an extended period of time before. ANY pet can cause allergies (well, except perhaps a fish). There is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog. There are dogs that shed less, yes, but any kind of pet can cause allergic reactions because allergies stem from dander on the skin more often than hair.
Are your current pets healthy, vaccinated and fixed? May I get a referral from your vet? Will you be able to provide emergency vet care if needed? What kind of food do you feed your pets/plan to feed this pet?
Asking about the health of current pets is important simply because elderly or pets with health issues may require expensive vet visits. Asking about someone’s finances is a personal and touchy area, but you CAN ask how they plan to handle emergencies.
Ask where they go for vet care, and if you can call for a referral. They may have multiple vets for multiple types of pets, and this is fine. Just be sure they actually KNOW who the local vets are and have some sort of relationship with a vet, even if this is their first pet. Having knowledge of a vet before adopting a pet is a sign of a responsible owner.
Are their current pets up to date on vaccinations? If not, why not? Some people have legit reasons and differing opinions on vaccinations and certain procedures like de-clawing, but YOU need to be comfortable with these opinions and understand them before you place your pet in their home. If you are against de-clawing and they have declawed cats, for your own peace of mind this may not be the best home choice for you. It’s ok to not be comfortable with someone else’s choices. It doesn’t mean they are bad pet owners, just perhaps not the right home for yours if your values and opinions are different.
Are their current pets spayed or neutered? Are they planning to breed any of their pets? Unfixed pets are a bad sign EXCEPT in the case of health/age issues or the person being involved in the show world. There are too many unwanted pets that need homes. Breeding is something that should be taken extremely seriously. “Back Yard Breeding” is a major factor in the amount of unwanted and unhealthy pets out there. If your pet is not fixed, SERIOUSLY consider doing so before you rehome them. Ethical breeders and legit rescue organizations require the pets they are homing to be fixed through contracts. This is not as practical for rehoming pets, so be the one to have it done yourself before you rehome.
Diet is important too. If they feed cheap grocery store brands like Old Roy or Kibbles and Bits, or don’t realize that parrots need more than just seed, they are not well educated on proper diet. Are they willing to keep up your pets current diet or switch to something equally high quality?
May I have your personal information such as address and phone number or a copy of your photo ID? Will you keep in touch with me if any problems arise? Will you contact me first if you need to rehome the pet for any reason in the future?
Asking the potential adopter for basic personal information to keep in touch with them in a good idea. If they are hesitant about giving out basic information, they may have something to hide. Ask if they are willing to give you updates occasionally, or to contact you first if something goes wrong and they can no longer keep the pet.
Develop a positive, trusting relationship with the person, but reassure them you do not plan to invade their privacy. Once you give them your pet, it IS theirs, and you no longer have a say in what happens to the pet in the future. If this concerns you (and it should!), be sure the person you choose to adopt your pet is someone you can develop a friendly relationship with and keep in contact with, for the long term well being of your pet.
Do they complain about the adoption fee? Always ask for an adoption fee, even if it’s only $25. If someone is not willing to pay a small fee to adopt your pet, they will not be willing to spend money on vet care, quality food, grooming, housing, etc. You can always do a good “pay it forward” deed with this fee by buying the new owners a tag with their information on it for their new pet, or donating to a local rescue or shelter.
Are they unwilling to drive to meet you? If someone is unwilling to take a little time to drive to meet a potential pet and insists you come to them, they may not have the time and devotion for your pet long term.
Do they get defensive when you ask the questions above? They may have something to hide. A good pet home will be one that understands it is important to the current owner that their pet go into a long term positive situation. If they do not have the patience to answer a few questions honestly, they likely will not be someone you can develop a positive relationship with.
Are they willing to have a play date with their current pets, housemates or children before they adopt? If they are in a hurry and don’t want to bother with making sure the pet is compatible with ALL family members, animal and human, they may not be the best choice. Instant gratification is not a sign of a responsible adult.
Are they asking their OWN questions about the pet? People that have no concerns or questions about the health, behavior, age, history or needs of your pet is a huge red flag. They should have just as many questions for you as you do for them to be sure this is the right fit for them and their family. A quick “I WANT IT” after seeing a photo is a red flag. “I’m interested, can we talk?” is a much better reply.
Ask “How long do you plan to keep the animal?” There is only one right answer, and that is forever. ;) They shouldn’t be planning ahead of time to rehome the animal if things happen. Situations can and do change and rehoming is the best option for everyone, but that shouldn’t necessarily be in their thoughts from the start. Trust your gut. If you just don’t feel right about this person, it’s ok to say no. Picking a new home for your pet should not be first come, first served!
And the number one rule for rehoming your pet….BE HONEST! Be honest about your pet’s history, behavior, health problems, your reasons for rehoming and your expectations of the new home. Do not sugarcoat things to get your pet a new home as soon as possible. Be responsible. You took this pet on, and it is your job to be sure it is taken care of during this change.
If the puppy is not housetrained, flat out say that. If the dog has no matters and training and is too much for you to handle, say exactly that, rather than “has a lot of energy.” If the cat spends a lot of time hiding and doesn’t like to be pet or handled, state that in your ad, rather than calling it “shy”. Being honest about the good and the bad will help you find a suitable home, rather than passing your problems on to someone else to take care of. Be responsible! You owe it to your pet, and it’s the right thing to do.
By Seri Dukart - Groomer