It can be distressing for any pet owner when they feel that they can no longer care for their pet, and decide that rehoming is the only solution.
With the best of intentions, many owners advertise their pets as ‘free to a good home’, but unfortunately some people who respond to ads for free pets do not have the best of intentions.
It’s been known for people to target ‘free to good home’ pets for the purposes of animal testing, puppy farming, to be used to train fighting dogs, and other general acts of cruelty. Naturally, the thought of someone targeting their pet for cruel activities wouldn’t cross the mind of most owners – they’d assume their pet is going to a loving new home.
But by employing a few simple screening techniques, owners can ensure their pet does go to a genuine and loving home where they will not fall victim to cruelty.
Don’t make ‘free’ the main selling point in your ad.
Even if you don’t intend to charge a fee for buying your pet, don’t make it the highlight of your ad. After all, your pet’s ‘selling point’ shouldn’t be the price – it should be your pet’s temperament and personality and that’s what potential owners are interested in.
Get your pet desexed first.
Before you advertise your pet, it’s very important to get them desexed first. Free pets may be targeted by people looking for animals to use for breeding under illegal conditions or in puppy farms – particularly purebred cats or dogs. To ward off breeders, desex your pet first and make sure that you mention your pet is desexed in your ad.
Start off by screening callers.
Once you’ve received enquiries about your pet, it’s a good idea to start off by screening callers to weed out any unsuitable people early on. PetRescue has compiled two handy telephone screening forms - one for dogs, and one for cats. Each form contains a number of questions you can ask potential owners and, based on their answers, rate their suitability. It’s worth printing off a few copies and keeping them handy by the phone.
Ask prospective owners for references.
Tell prospective owners that you’d like to do a reference check and request the details of their veterinarian. Don’t just ask for the details, make sure you pick up the phone and make a call. Just like humans, pets also need the odd check-up to ensure they’re healthy, so you’re looking for someone who’s committed to regular check-ups/grooming.
Ask prospective owners for photo ID and proof of address
When prospective owners come to meet your pet, ask them to bring photo ID and a utility bill with their current address. Take a copy or make a note of the details. This will also be useful when you fill in the change of ownership details for your pet’s microchip and council registration.
Ask to visit the prospective owner’s property.
Be straight up – tell a prospective owner you’d like to see their property and where your pet would be living. Most people will happily agree to your visit because they share your commitment to your pet’s happiness in its new home. But those with something to hide are less likely to agree to your visit and won’t want you knowing where they live.
Agree to a check-up visit of your pet after a month or so.
Tell prospective owners that you’d like to check up on your pet in a month or two to see how they’re getting along in their new home. Again, most people won’t have a problem with this and will be keen to show you how well your pet is doing.
Check the Animal Abuse Crime Database
The Animal Abuse Crime Database is an international registry of people who have committed offences against animals. You can search by name and location to see whether a person has ever been involved in a recorded act of animal cruelty. However, don’t assume that because someone isn’t listed on that database that they’re safe – use it as a guide only, and together with the screening techniques mentioned.
Seek the assistance of a reputable rescue organisation, instead.
If your only option is to rehome your pet, seek the assistance of a reputable rescue organisation. They'll help you rehome your pet, but keep in mind that most are already at full capacity and you may have to go on a waiting list before they can take your pet. Even if they’re unable to immediately help rehome your pet, their staff and volunteers are full of useful information and tips. The PetRescue directory lists rescue organisations in each state.
Be patient and don’t give up
If you really are committed to finding the perfect home for your pet, be patient – it may take time. Don’t be afraid to openly ask prospective buyers to jump through your hoops to prove their good intentions. After all, most people will walk the mile to find that perfect pet!
Do you really have to surrender your pet?
Ask yourself this question: do you really have to surrender your pet?
You can crack just about any nut with some effort and pet ownership is no different. By getting a pet in the first place, you already made the commitment to provide your pet with a stable and loving home. So, before throwing your hands up in the air and screaming defeat, ask yourself what you can do to accommodate. For useful tips and solutions, check out our article discussing alternatives to giving up your pet.