Peaceful Pack for Humans & Dogs
How to Find a Dog a New Home
Thanks to the National German Shepherd Dog Club of America and to Anne McGuire of the Houston Golden Retriever Club for writing and sharing some of the information contained in this article. Although the guidelines below were written to help owners who need to re-home a dog, they also provide valuable instruction & tips for foster care-givers.
are times and circumstances when even a caring owner must face a decision to
re-home his or her dog. Unfortunately,
at the point of deciding the dog needs a new home, many owners hope to turn
responsibility for their dog’s placement over to others.
Therefore, it is vital to understand that while other individuals or
groups may offer help and support, until your dog has made the transition to a
new loving home, his life and fate lie squarely in your hands. Only you can
ensure that his next home is a happy and safe one.
screen all applicants--Begin by being aware that you must screen
adoption applicants for your dog. Many
dogs are passed from owner to owner, making them easy victims for unscrupulous
people. Some dogs who fall into the
wrong hands end up as fighting dogs or bait for fighting dogs, or more rarely as captives of occult gangs. Others are
kept as yard dogs on chains or as “junkyard” guard dogs living in the worst
kind of lonely isolation. In
addition, there are people constantly on the prowl for dogs to sell to labs for
experimentation, or to use for breeding stock in puppy mills where the dogs are
kept in shockingly inhumane conditions. Countless
dogs are simply abandoned by the careless to die of starvation and disease, or
dumped on roadsides to be maimed and killed by cars.
rush your dog to a shelter—Shelters are places of last resort for lost
and abandoned animals and for animals whose owners are in desperate straits.
They are not placement centers for pets.
If your dog has even the slightest health or behavior problem, including
reactivity to other dogs, it will be euthanized immediately in most shelters. Shelters rarely place older dogs or those with special needs.
The vast majority of animals that enter shelters are killed within days.
In the Greater Houston area at least 97,000 animals are euthanized in
shelters every year. Likewise most
rescue groups don’t have the resources to extend their foster care program
(for strays and shelter dogs) to owner dogs, although some may help owners by
advertising their dogs and screening applicants.
for placement—Begin by getting your records in order.
Be sure your dog is current on its shots, is spayed or neutered, is on
heartworm preventative and has had a recent heartworm test (for low cost
veterinary care in the Houston area, see contact listing for SNAP on p. 3).
Bathe and groom your dog. Make
sure his ears are clean and his nails are clipped. Outfit him with a handsome collar. Assemble a file folder with all your vet care and shot
records, current rabies vaccination certificate, AKC papers if you have them,
the dog's city or county dog license, receipts from your purchase of the dog,
obedience school diplomas, etc. This
is information you can show to potential adopters and give to the dog's new
owner. (Note: If you are the
dog’s original owner, when you begin the process of placing your dog, contact
the person from whom you got the dog. Ethical breeders feel responsible for
every puppy they breed; sometimes they will take the dog back or help you find
another home. Others, less
responsible, may benefit from learning how often their puppies’ placements
don’t work out.)
Spay or Neuter Your Dog—It is one of the best things you can do for your dog’s health and will increase the odds that your dog will end up in a loving home as a companion animal—this is your insurance that your dog will not end up with an unethical breeder who will exploit him/her as a cheap breeding source. It is also a way to do your part to end the canine suffering that results from the pet overpopulation problem—the millions of unwanted dogs in this country, including pure breeds, far outnumber available homes. Counter to the image of spoiled pets leading cushy lives, only two of every ten dogs born ever gets a permanent home, and not every permanent home is a good one. The only solution is to cut down on the number of pets that are born. If cost is a problem, you can make an appointment to have your pet fixed at one of the community organizations that offers low cost spay-neutering services.
ads—Advertise in as many places as possible including your work
place, volunteer organizations, etc. Use
community newspapers and newsletters in addition to major newspapers.
Make sure that your ad includes a concise description of your dog, such
as breed/sex/age, your phone number, and your requirements (based on your
dog’s temperament and habits) such as: No
cats; no same sex dogs; fine with
older kids; this mature family pet
would be good for senior citizen; well behaved in-house dog.
Also, be ready to emphasize your dog’s strong points—for example, is
he friendly, house trained or obedience trained, good with kids, etc.
Also be honest about problems—if you aren’t, you are setting the
placement up for failure. If the
dog has a bad habit or problem and the new owners aren’t willing or able to
cope with it, they will soon get rid of the dog.
Remember, a good home means a good fit
between dog and owner.
offer your dog "Free to a good home”—Be
sure that your ad includes a price or "adoption fee."
that is at least as much as area shelters charge for adoption.
In return, the adopter should get a dog which has already had
vaccinations, a heartworm test, and been spayed or neutered.
A responsible applicant will not mind the adoption fee if you have saved
your receipts and can document the care the dog has recently received.
After all, the new owner would have to pay for all that anyway. Be wary
of anyone not willing to pay a reasonable price to get a dog.
If they can't afford to pay a little, how will they later pay for vet
care, food, obedience training, etc.?
Be aware that
there really are people constantly on the prowl for free pets
(especially popular pure breeds) in order to exploit them for profit; some will
even go so far as to visit you with children or elderly companions to gain your
confidence. Asking a fair price for your dog is the best way to protect
yourself and your dog from these con artists pretending to be good pet owners.
more common pitfall to avoid for your dog, are well intentioned people who love
the idea of a pet but who are unprepared to choose a breed wisely, much less to
raise and train it. These are the
people who seem like they will be good owners but when you check back with them
six months later they are singing a different tune that goes “Oh I had to get
rid of that dog.” Therefore even when dealing with nice people you
must carefully screen and question your
everyone who responds to your ads--Don’t
be afraid to ask for references and for the name and phone number of the
applicant’s vet. Be
sure they know about the costs and vet care needed to keep a dog healthy.
Find out the ages of any children or grandchildren and if there are other
pets. Ask if they've had dogs before, and if so, what happened to those dogs.
Look for a home that has kept dogs from youth to old age.
Find out the circumstances of those who have had dogs lost, stolen or
given away—your dog could end up the same way.
parents who are getting a dog "for the kids" unless the parents really
want the dog themselves. Dogs need mature interaction and will make more work
for adults in the household. During
the interview, phrase your questions so as to NOT reveal the answer you are
looking for. For instance ask:
"Will you keep her inside or outside?"
Don’t say, "You will keep her inside, won't you?" Trust your
intuition, and don't hesitate to turn away a caller if something just doesn't
seem right. Be picky and hold out for the right home for your dog.
Be honest with callers and tell all you know about the dog's behavior
and health. You may hide or lie
about a problem during the interview, but once the dog is adopted, the new owner
will find out soon enough and may try to return the dog to you, or even try to
are some questions that shelters and rescue groups use to screen applicants:
for the applicant’s vet—
that Mr. And Mrs. Doe are interested in adopting your dog and you want to make
sure the dog will get a good home. Ask
whether their pets get regular care, have been spayed or neutered, and are on
heart worm preventative.
for the personal reference—Ask
how long they have known the Does, how are their pets cared for, what kind of
fence do they have, (this indicates how well they actually know the Does), what
kind of interests and hobbies they have, do their dogs stay in or out, and would
they give a dog to the Does.
you have an interested caller that passes your phone interview, arrange a visit.
However, be cautious about inviting strangers to your home.
Meeting them at a public place such as a neighborhood pet store may be
safer. Have the potential adopter
bring the entire family. It is
important that everyone in the household meet and get along with the dog. Even if the dog is "for my wife/husband" if the
spouse dislikes the dog there will be problems!
If the adopter already has a dog, arrange for that dog to come visit also
to be sure the two will get along. (Meeting
on neutral territory rather than the resident’s dog’s home turf will also
foster a more peaceful introduction).
a Home Visit—Finally,
before turning your dog over, do one last thing extremely important thing to protect its welfare.
Make a home visit to the prospective adopter.
Experienced shelter and rescue workers who regularly place dogs in new
homes understand how important a home visit can be.
Many applicants stretch the truth when applying to adopt a dog.
Nothing beats seeing first hand the circumstances your dog will be living
in and if the picture presented by the applicants was accurate and truthful.
a Smooth Transition--Make
sure that the adopting family understands that going to a new home is stressful
for the dog and a period of mourning and adjustment is to be expected.
Even a housebroken dog may be expected to have some accidents the first
few days. Advise the new owners not
to place extra pressure on the dog before it is settled in.
Provide the new family with a written list of the dog’s food,
medication, schedule, etc. Send
some favorite toys and a blanket with the dog to help him feel more secure.
Don’t forget to remind them
about how vital it is to keep the dog on a heartworm mediation and to outfit it
with a sturdy buckle collar and ID tags.
should allow 1-3 months to find your dog a new home, depending on the time of
year and your dog's age, health, manners and behavior.
It is time well spent. You will have peace of mind knowing that your dog
is safe, loved, and cared-for; you will not be lying awake at night wondering if
she's been euthanized in a shelter or hit by a car on the highway!
your dog has a history of truly aggressive behavior such as severely biting
or injuring people, you may be legally liable for any actions of that dog, even
after it goes to another home. In
such a situation, the best action may be to have the dog put to sleep.
your dog is very old you should also consider taking him to your vet to be
euthanized if you absolutely can’t keep him or find a truly loving home.
Animals who have been with you a long time can suffer great grief if forced
to separate from you. Always remain
with the dog to relieve his anxiety. A
dog who has been faithful to you for many years deserves nothing less than a
dignified end with you at his side.
the Situation—Otherwise, it might be well to reconsider if you really
need to give up your pet. Perhaps
the situation requiring you to give up your dog is really beyond your control,
or is the best and wisest thing to do for both you and your dog.
However, behavior problems such as house-breaking, digging or chewing,
jumping up, and excessive barking are the most common reasons that lead people
to get rid of their pets. These
behavior problems are directly related to lack of training, which in turn
relates to the owners’ lack of time, planning, and commitment.
If this is the case, and especially before you choose to own a dog again,
please do some serious reflecting about why this dog didn't work out and how you
can prevent this situation from repeating itself.
yet, if behavior problems are the reason for re-homing, give yourself and your
dog another chance. Behavior problems can usually be corrected with proper
training combined with giving the dog more attention and allowing the dog to
live inside the house as a companion to your family. Many behavior problems result from isolating the dog alone in the yard.
Because a dog is a social pack animal, it can only thrive when it is
allowed to be a part of the family, interacting daily with it’s human pack. A
good obedience class may do wonders for your dog's behavior, making it possible
for you to allow it in the house. When you let your dog become a larger part of
your life, your bond will grow deeper and you may find you want to keep him/her
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