Thursday, October 30, 2008

Free to a good home?

I see ads like this all the time..."free to a good home." I know the people mean well. They need to find a new home for their dogs or cats, sometimes animals that are well past the puppy/kitten phase and therefore harder to place. They feel that if they offer them for free, they're more likely to find someone to take them and take them quickly.

The animal might end up in a great home. But this is not always the case. For anyone considering offering their pet as "free to a good home" or know someone who is considering it, for anyone who has seen one of these ads, please go to this page:

Free To Good Home?

It describes the many perils of an animal in this situation: from being used as bait for a dog fighting ring, to being used as a breeder in a puppy mill, to being a dog chained up with no room to move.

If you do need to find a new home for an animal, please consider these steps instead:

(1) Decide if you really do need to find a home for an animal. A lot of times people give the "we're moving" reason for rehoming their pets. This is not always necessary. Animals adjust well to moves. You can easily transport them even across country or to a new country and they will adjust quickly. Finding an apartment can be trickier, but it is not an impossibility. The first thing you should always do is to consider keeping your animal(s). You are their home, not the house or town or state or country you live in.

(2) If you absolutely cannot find a way to keep your animal (dog, cat, rabbit, etc.), check with friends and family to see if anyone is interested in adopting it.

(3) Contact local no-kill shelters and rescues to see if someone can take your dog. If your dog is of a specific breed, there are guaranteed to be breed-specific rescues that may be able to take it in. If you are afraid that because your dog is a mutt, you will not find a rescue for it, then I have good news! There are plenty of rescues that are all-breed (including mutts) rescues. Some breed-specific rescues will also take in dogs that are clearly mixed with their breed if they have room. Ask around or look on for nearby rescues.

(4) If you absolutely must post an ad on Craigslist or some other similar place, always ask an adoption fee. Always ask the person questions, set up an interview, maybe even do a home visit. It is your responisbility to ensure that your companion finds that good home. This means asking a lot of questions. If the person is not interested in answering them, then they are not interested in adopting your dog. You can find many adoption applications on the internet. Here is just one that you could use as an example:

This certainly takes time, but very few people move so quickly that they can't take a couple weeks to find their animal a good home. Once you know you are moving, set everything in motion and give yourself the time to find a good home for the pet. I notice many ads that sound frantic and I wonder how long those folks knew they were moving before they posted the ad.

Please remember that your pet is a commitment and part of that commitment is always ensuring that the animal has a good life. Do not ever get a dog or a cat if you think you may be the sort to dump it if you have to move.

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