Tri-County APL    presents
How to Find a New Home For Your Dog

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"I'm moving, and I need to find a new home for my dog."
"My dog had puppies - I need to find them homes."
"There's this neighborhood stray that's been hanging around....."
"My mom has to go into a nursing home - she can't take her dog with her."

For whatever reason, animal shelters get calls like this all the time. There are just too many animals, and not enough good homes for all of them. Most shelters are at (or over) capacity nearly all of the time, and some receive so many calls, they have lengthy waiting lists (if they even keep a list). Which means that the more you are able to do, the better chance your dog (or dogs) will have of finding a new home.

Whether you're trying to find a home for a neighborhood stray, the litter of pups your dog just had, or the pet of a parent or friend who can no longer keep it, it can be a tough job. I hope these tips can help.

Just as a side note: If you're trying to find a home for mixed-breed puppies, and you still have the mother, PLEASE get her spayed before she has any more puppies! I'll agree - puppies are cute, but there are just too many of them out there. And just think - even if you have a fairly easy time finding homes for your pups, each one you place means there's one less home for the thousands in shelters.

Finding a new home for your dog

  • First, honestly answer the question "How adoptable is this dog?" There are plenty of well-behaved, healthy pets waiting for homes. Finding a home for a dog that jumps up on people, bites, is overly fearful, chews your belongings, or isn't totally housebroken is not exactly easy - and it's not fair to ask a potential owner to take on such problems. Before you can find it a home, do whatever needs done: housetraining, behavior modification, spaying or neutering - whatever will make the dog more adoptable.
    If the dog is older, has a chronic condition like kidney or heart disease, or is seriously afraid of people, you have to consider how much stress moving to a new home would cause the dog. If the dog is at all aggressive, or could be a fear-biter, you may face liability issues if something happens. Sometimes euthanizing the dog may be more humane, but it's a tough decision. Talk it over with your vet or an animal behaviorist, but only you can make the decision.
  • Make sure the dog is:
    • current on its shots, and healthy (a visit to your vet is in order)
    • spayed or neutered (if old enough)
    • friendly around people
    • housebroken
  • If the dog appears purebred: Check out the American Kennel Club's breed rescue website, to see if there are any rescuers that work with that breed. Even if the only ones listed are several states away, call or write to them - they may know of some local people you can contact.
  • Decide what kind of home you want for the dog  Does he/she need to go to a home with no other pets? A home that will keep her indoors all the time? (indoors is best). Is a fenced-in yard a must? Do you have 2 dogs that need to find a home together?
  • Write an ad about the dog  Make it more like a story - "Rover's owner has to move....", and include comments about the dogs personality. Mention the dogs health status, what breed (or mix) it is, whether it is altered, and any requirements a new home has to meet (no other pets, no children, fenced yard only, etc...). Include a clear picture of the dog or dogs.
  • Don't give the dog away for free - ask something for it, even if it's only ten or twenty dollars  There are several reasons for this:
    • People value something more if they've paid for it
    • Someone who can't afford ten or twenty dollars for a dog may not be able to afford proper food or veterinary care
    • People who want dogs for less-than-nice reasons (resale to labs, for example) are less likely to pay for one - there are plenty of free dogs out there
  • Decide on some questions to ask potential new owners
    • Have you had a dog before? (And if they have - what happened to their last dog?)
    • What vet do you go to (or plan to)?
    • How much time do you have to spend with a dog?
    • Do you own or rent where you live? (If renting, can you prove pets are allowed?)
    • Does everyone in your household want a new dog?
    • How long will you give the dog to adjust to your home? (it may take weeks, or even months, for some dogs to adjust to a new home, especially if there are other pets already in the home)
    • If you're finding homes for puppies, ask if they realize the time (and money) it takes to bring up a puppy - housebreaking, teaching 'house manners', dealing with teething, basic training, and the cost of all the vet visits, puppy food, toys, and replacing whatever the puppy destroys!
      • Be sure to ask questions like: 'How will you housebreak this puppy?' 'How will you discipline this puppy?' 'Do you plan on taking this puppy to obedience school?'
    • May I visit the dog sometime? (even if you never plan on doing this, be very wary of anyone who says 'no' to this)
  • Spread the word  Post your ad everywhere (always ask permission first):
    • Veterinarians offices, pet stores, groomers, obedience training centers
    • Businesses - where you work, and anywhere else that will let you
    • Libraries and community centers
    • Local churches
    • Put a shortened version in the newspaper
  • If possible, arrange to take the dog to the new home, instead of having the new owner pick it up from your house  This will give you a chance to see where the dog will be living. Make sure to take a copy of the dogs medical records (or the name and phone number of the vet you've been going to), some of the food your dog's been eating, and a toy or piece of bedding so your dog will have something familiar in its new home.
  • Follow-up:  Call the new owners after about a week or so, to make sure their new dog is settling in, and answer any questions that may have come up.


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