There’s no denying it--pets are happiest when they are with their family for the entirety of their lives. When we bring them into our lives, we heartily agree to stick by them for better or for worse, and to face the challenges of life together. We agree not to turn our backs on them at the slightest indication of difficulty. We pledge to be their forever family. However, there are a few circumstances in which we might find ourselves needing to find a new home for a pet--perhaps when we “inherit” a family member’s pet or found an animal that we aren’t in a position to keep.
Depending on where you live, finding a new home for a pet can range from slightly challenging to nearly impossible. I do animal rescue work in Los Angeles, a city overflowing with homeless pets, so it can be pretty difficult here. It’s challenging enough to find homes that have space for a new pet, but we have to be ever vigilant against letting these vulnerable pets fall into the wrong hands.
If you’re faced with trying to find a home for a needy animal, here are eight ideas that might help.
1. Get to a Vet
A healthy pet has a much better chance of getting adopted than a sick one. That’s not to say that special-needs or ill pets can’t get adopted-- there are families and rescues who devote their lives to these animals-- but a basic exam and current vaccinations will go a long way. If there are any health issues, try to address them before you adopt the pet out. If you can’t, be honest with potential adopters about any medical issues.
A visit to your vet can also double as a networking opportunity: tell your vet you are looking for a new home for the pet, see if you can leave a flyer at the office, and ask them to let you know if they have any clients who might be interested in adopting!
2. The More Details, The Better
When you create a flyer, an email, a social media post, or anything that you’re using to network or advertise the pet, make sure you give as much detail as possible. Give the rundown of demographics: age, breed, gender, spay/neuter status, size, etc. Also include medical history and behavior/compatibility profile (is he a high energy pooch who would thrive in an active home? Is he a timid cat who is afraid of kids?). All of this information is important because you want to find the best fit possible!
3. Photos Make All the Difference
Try to get as many good photos as possible. You want to show the pet’s size, any physical features that might impact care (like long fur or perhaps an injured leg), and, most of all, his personality! People are visual creatures, and a good rescue photo can be what leads to a new home. Make sure you get a few shots of their eyes looking right into the camera, pleading for a home (yes--go for the heartstrings)!
4. Talk to Friends, Neighbors, and Family Members
Don’t keep your furry friend a secret! Make sure everyone in your life knows that he’s looking for a home. Talk him up and ask friends and family members to spread the word. Even if you think everybody you know has heard the story ten times, keep talking. It only takes one person saying, “oh wow--I’ve been looking for a cat just like him, and I just moved to a pet-friendly apartment,” to end your search!
5. Always Require an Application, Contract & Adoption Fee
You can find sample adoption applications and contracts online. You might think requiring someone to fill out an application and pay for this pet would be an obstacle, but for the right person, it won’t be. No matter how desperate you are to find a new home for this pet, take your time. Screening folks and requiring even a modest fee can go a long way to prevent the pet from falling into the wrong hands. The truth is, there are people everywhere with bad intentions who troll for free pets that require no screening.
Tip: If you don’t want or need to keep the adoption fee yourself, choose a local rescue and donate it.
6. Partner with a Local Rescue
Depending on where you live, getting the pet into a local rescue could be fairly easy or rather difficult, but it’s a great way to find a new home. Here in Los Angeles, it’s very difficult because the rescues are always overflowing. You can make it more likely that they will accept your pet by offering to be the foster parent until a permanent home is found and/or having some funds saved up that you can donate to the rescue for their help. Most rescues are run solely on volunteer power and rely on donations, so sending the pet with some financial resources can go a long way.
Tip: If you can’t find a rescue that has room, ask if they would do a “courtesy post,” where they list the pet online for you. Some rescues also allow “independents” to show at their adoption events. This means that the rescue gives you space to come and show your friend, but nothing else.
7. Get Social
If the pet is good with outings, take him out! The more exposure you give him, the more likely he will be to catch his new family’s eye. Take him to the dog park, to social hours at local pet boutiques, out hiking, or even with you when you go to your favorite café. Mix and mingle and remember to tell people he’s looking for a home!
Tip: You can get an “adopt me” bandana or vest for him to put on whenever you’re out and about! If the pet doesn’t do well outside of your home, invite folks over!
8. Technology is Your Friend
Make sure you send email blasts, post on all of your social media, and even text your pals that you’re looking for a home for a pet. And don’t do it just once; continue to post for as long as the pet needs a home. You don’t have to be annoying, but periodic posts remind your contacts that you’re still on the hunt. If you stop posting, your friends will assume you’ve found a home. Keep posting and asking them to re-post and forward!