Finding a Good Home
If You Must Part With Your Friend finding a good home for your pet takes time and effort, but doing so will provide you with the satisfaction of knowing it will enjoy a lifetime of happiness and well being. This information is provided to assist you in this important endeavor. Remember, you pet's safety and welfare are in your hands.
Placing an AD
Many individuals will place a classified advertisement in their local newspapers when attempting to place a pet or found animal. In many cases, the animals are advertised as "free to a good home". As the pet's owner or sponsor, it is your responsibility to ensure the home is indeed a good one.
In any ad you place, state VET REFERENCE REQUIRED. This will screen out some, but unfortunately not all, respondents who have no business owning a pet. By requiring a vet reference, you are stating that the home you are seeking must be with someone who has a proven commitment to past and current pets.
When receiving calls in response to the ad that you have placed, it is important that you screen prospective owners. Most people will assume because an animal is free, it is a first-come first-serve proposition. Make it clear from the start that this is not so. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Do not let anyone intimidate you or put you on the defensive. Be pleasant, polite, and FIRM. Remember, how to ask a question is as important as the question itself. Do not phrase questions in a way that tells callers what you want to hear.
Beware of anyone who says he/she will take an entire litter of puppies or kittens. It is unlikely this individual has the animals' best interests at heart. These puppies/kittens may find themselves used to train fighting dogs, sacrificed in cult ceremonies, sold to testing laboratories, used as backyard breeders, or worse. Yes, these things do happen in our community!
Begin the conversation by telling callers you are very attached to the animal and are interested in finding the best home possible. State that you would like to ask the caller some questions. Animal people will not mind. They know the importance of finding a good match for the animal and that you have the animals welfare at heart. Those who seem offended or balk at the prospect of being screened should not be considered a good home.
If at any time during the conversation you feel the caller cannot provide an appropriate home or the caller and the animal are not suited to one another, simply say you do not think this animal would make the caller a good pet. Politely thank him/her for calling and end the call.
Ask callers if they currently own any pets. If they do, ask what kind, how old they are, and how long they have had them. Also ask if the animals are spayed and neutered. Are all shots current? Are their dogs on heart-worm preventative? Anyone who cares about animals will enjoy talking about them. You can learn a lot just by listening.
If someone does not currently have a pet but states that he/she owned pets in the past, ask what happened to them. Let the caller tell you in his/her own words. Hit by a car? Ran off? Given away because the furniture was clawed, children were jumped on, or there were too many "accidents"? We recommend that these individuals not be considered serious pet owners.
Anyone who has or has had pets should have a Vet reference. A vet reference is key to finding a responsible pet owner. Ask, "Who is your vet?". Anyone who hedges on the Vet's name and address is not a good prospect. A loving pet owner can give you the Vet's name as readily as the name of his/her personal physician.
Do not assume because someone gives you a name that the reference will be a good one. Ask under what name the records are filed. Place a call to the vet on any caller you consider a serious prospect. You will want to know if the pets shots were kept current, if dogs were on heartworm preventative, if cats were kept indoors, if the animal was seen at times other than annually, and if the vet would consider your caller a good home. We have never had a vet refuse to help us. Any vet who refuses to provide you with a reference has told you what you need to know by virtue of his/her silence. Do not consider this individual as a good home for your pet.
Does the information provided by the vet's office concur with what you were told by the individual interested in adopting the animal? Do not be afraid to ask, "Would you consider this individual to be a responsible pet owner?" Carefully question anyone who says he/she has never owned a pet before. Ask them why they want a pet now. Listen carefully to the answers. Ask all callers where they intend to keep the animal. Anyone who says a dog will be kept outside requires further questioning. Obviously, you will not want to place the dog in a home situated on a busy street or in a home that intends to keep the dog chained to a backyard tree.
Do not let people know what you want to hear. Do not ask, "Do you have a fenced in yard?". The very way in which the question is asked tells the caller that you want a "yes" answer, and that is what you are likely to get . . . fence or no fence.
If you are placing a cat, you will want it kept indoors. Asking the question "are you looking for an outdoor cat, an indoor cat, or one that will go both indoors and outdoors?" in multiple choice form is more likely to get you an honest answer. Any answer other than "the cat will be kept strictly indoors" is unacceptable. Do not believe callers who suddenly change their minds and tell you they will keep the cat indoors. One miss of the litter pan, one clawing of the furniture, one jump on the kitchen counter, and that cat will be outdoors!
Be fair to both the animal and the prospective owners. Be UP FRONT ABOUT ANY PROBLEMS SUCH AS EXCESSIVE BARKING, FENCE JUMPING, MEDICATION REQUIREMENTS, OR HOUSEBREAKING. Do your best to match the animal with appropriate surroundings. Does the caller have children? Does the animal like children? Does it require a large yard or will an apartment do? The right match will avoid the likelihood of a placed animal being promptly returned.
If you feel good about the information the caller has given you, get a name and telephone number (both work and home). Tell the caller that you will call him/her back once you have checked the vet reference. Be specific as to when the caller can expect to hear from you.
Once everything has checked out and you feel this would be a good placement, make an appointment to bring the animal to it's new home. It's much easier for the animal if the transition is made by you, it's trusted caregiver. NEVER PLACE AN ANIMAL IN A HOME YOU HAVE NOT SEEN. You will want to see where the animal will live and that everything is in place (the yard IS fenced, a litter pan and feeding dishes- - - indicating an indoor home - - - are awaiting your cat's arrival, etc.)
It would not be inappropriate to ask the new owners to sign an adoption contract. You will want the new family to understand that you will be making periodic checks to ensure the placement is working well for everyone (animal included). Be sure the new owners understand that if for any reason the adoption does not work you will want the animal returned to you. Under no circumstances should the animal be placed in another home without you being a part of the placement process.
Please understand that these guidelines come to you after many years of working with the public. If many of these questions and procedures appear unimportant or time consuming, please believe us . . . they are very important. Unfortunately, times have changed. Not everyone can be taken at his/her word. Not everyone's intentions are good. Remember, your animal' safety and happiness are in your hands!
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