There are times when families are faced with insurmountable financial or personal hardships and find themselves in the heart-breaking situation of having to find a new home for their beloved furry, scaly or feathered family member. Re-homing can be very stressful for both you and your pet.
Create a Flyer
Create a flyer or resume that you can show to potential pet parents. Take several photographs of your pet that show off their personality, such as portrait shots and cute photographs of your pet playing with toys, cuddling with you, enjoying the comforts of their home. Photographs that highlight interaction with family members will show that your pet has always been treated as a treasured member of the family.
It's important to explain why she has to be re-homed. Describe the ideal type of new home you're looking for so you can replicate as closely as possible what she had with you. Remember that you are ultimately looking for a forever home; you don't want her to have her go through this process again.
If your pet loves and interacts with other animals, spell out whether she likes both dogs and cats or prefers one to the other. Some pets prefer to be "only fur kids." Also, make it known whether your pet likes to be around children or favors the company of adults. Senior pets are often a good fit for senior citizens.
Outline her personality traits, her food likes and dislikes. When it comes to dogs, outline the type of exercise she is used to and her favorite games. Cats like to play too, so detail her favorite toys and if she is used to enjoying the view from a tall kitty condo or comfy bed. Companion animals also have specialized diets and unique play and exercise schedules that are important to communicate to the potential new pet parent.
Don't forget to include your contact information on the flyer.
Share. Share. Share.
Once you have flyers, put them up as many places as possible, starting with your veterinarian's office. Coffee shops often have a notice board, as do pet stores, boarding facilities, shelters and grooming salons. Spread the word to your co-workers, family and friends and email everyone you think could possibly help. Post messages on social media sites and consider putting your pet on reputable websites that specialize in pet adoptions, like petfinder.com.
If there is a local newspaper, place an advertisement to attract people in your area. Never advertise your pet to strangers as "Free to a Good Home." Even if it is a nominal fee, you want to ensure that the person who takes your pet has the means to care for him.
If your dog or cat is a purebred, consider contacting relevant breed rescue groups. They will understand your dog's or cat's innate characteristics and know what to look for in finding the right people and home environment for a particular breed.
Only take your pet to a shelter as a last resort; many shelters are filled to capacity, meaning that animals are only kept a certain number of days before they are euthanized due to lack of space. Never simply abandon your pet or leave her to fend for herself. In addition to being inhumane, it's illegal. A domestic animal that has had the care, attention and reassurance of knowing there will be a daily food bowl is unable to survive for long on their own anywhere – whether you live in the city or out in the country.
What to Ask Potential Pet Parents
When someone contacts you, have a list of applicable questions ready to ask before you meet:
Do you currently have any pets or children?
Have you had pets before? If so, what happened to them?
Do you own your own home, or live where pets are allowed? Ask for proof in writing.
Who is at home during the day?
Will you take the pet for an annual wellness check and to a veterinarian at the first sign of a problem?
What about grooming? Is this something you will do or have done professionally?
Where will the pet sleep?
Will the cat be kept indoors permanently and be rewarded with lots of toys and supplies?
What type of exercise routines are you able to provide?
Do you understand the financial implications sharing a home with a pet? Are you able to meet these obligations without incurring a hardship?
Does anyone in your home have allergies?
Does everyone in the family agree on adding this pet to your family?
What would you plan to do if someone in the family developed allergies to the pet or if you had to move?
It's important to let them know that you will take your pet back if it doesn't work out.
The Initial Meeting
If you feel confident after talking on the phone, arrange for the potential adopter to come and meet your pet in your home. It's very important to see how your pet reacts to the person and vice versa. You may have to arrange more than one visit, especially if the potential adopter has kids. You don't want to overwhelm your pet during the first meet-and-greet. If you can, visit their home, as well.
Pay attention to how they interact with your pet, and how your pet responds. If you're pet seems highly resistant, she may be trying to tell you something. Listen to your heart. If you have any doubt about any one thing, apply the old adage, when in doubt, don't. Keep looking. You will find the right pet parent for your pet.
Be prepared to provide your pet's new pet parent with all of her favorite toys and supplies, and include a few weeks' of food, too. This will help your pet settle in more quickly.
Be sure to include any special instructions, and advise them of anything unique about your pet ("Princess likes to sleep in her bed on the floor at the foot of the bed" or "Georgia prefers her dry food mixed with 1 tablespoon of wet food"). These tidbits will help your pet more easily adjust to her new home. If your pet has behavioral issues that you have been unable to resolve (or haven't tried to resolve), it's important to be honest. Often, with the right training, many behavioral issues can be rectified. And, Make sure to provide copies of all of your pet's veterinary records.
The Final Goodbye
When you do feel you have found the right pet parents for your pet, try and keep the transition as unemotional as possible. Don't forget to provide all of your pet's toys and supplies as well as food for at least one month. The change is going to be stressful enough and a change in diet can only make things worse.
Stay in touch with the new pet parents to ensure everything is going smoothly. Provide them with your contact information (if you are moving) so that they can share information with you. Ask for photographs that show that she is settling in to her new environment and learning to love her new family.