When you adopt a pet, you’re making a promise to them to keep them for life. However, some dire situations arise that require you to figure out how to rehome a pet. If you’ve exhausted all other options and can no longer keep them, you need to rehome your pet in the safest way possible.
If you need to make this difficult decision, here’s a guide on how to rehome a pet safely.
How to Avoid Rehoming a Pet: Prevention and Action Steps
Before we talk about how to rehome a pet, let’s talk about ways to avoid the process altogether.
Before even getting the pet, you need to make sure you’re completely ready to make this decision. You should never make the choice to bring a pet into your home without a lot of research and careful consideration. And that consideration needs to be made by all parties in the home. Never give a pet to someone as a gift. Instead, give them a card saying you’ll pay for the adoption fee and help them do research in finding the perfect one for them. Everyone in the home must be present at the meet and greet before an adoption goes through. This decreases the chance that a pet will go home with someone they don’t connect with.
When you choose adoption, animals come with baggage. You don’t always know what they went through before ending up in a shelter. With Aloy, our boxer/pittie mix, we knew what we were getting into when we brought her home.
And by that, I mean that we were knew to expect the unexpected.
She was anonymously dumped at Brandywine Valley SPCA; someone tied her to the front gate and left her there for 24 hours in a tropical storm. We took her in knowing that we would have behavioral issues to handle, but we’re equipped to deal with them. Most importantly, we had a meet and greet with her, myself, and my husband. After that, we had a meet and greet with our other dog, Winston. Once we knew that she got along with him, we knew we could handle problems as they arose in the future.
But not everyone’s prepared for that. If you’re a first time dog owner, talk to your shelter and say you’re looking for a dog with a less traumatic past.
And while we believe that personality comes from their life experience, not breed, some breeds have more physical needs than others. Many people impulsively buy corgis because they’re so adorable. There’s no denying that. But not everyone does the research to learn that this breed is a working dog. They need an insane amount of exercise and mental stimulation to stay happy. This is just one example of how you need to do your research and know what you’re getting into before you make that decision.
Another example of a common mistake that causes rehoming is thinking small animals means a small amount of work. On our homestead, we have rabbits and sugar gliders. They require some of the most work of all our animals. Rabbits require exotic vets and have specific health and space requirements that not everyone is aware of. Rabbits are not starter pets.
And never get a pet and expect your child to care for it. Most kids are not emotionally equipped to care for a pet on their own. If you get a pet for your kids, expect to care for it without help. It’s nice when they do lend a hand, but pets for adoption are not meant to be lessons in responsibility for kids.
First Steps to Rehome a Pet
Hindsight is 20/20. And sometimes life throws curveballs you never expected, rendering pet rehoming a necessity. So here are some suggestions to help you get started in the rehoming process. First, look back on your adoption paperwork. Some shelters require that if you can no longer care for the animal, you need to bring them back to the original shelter. In this case, get in contact with that shelter so they can help you figure out the situation, as you legally cannot rehome them on your own.
If the shelter did not have that clause, or you did not get them from an official shelter, think about your inner circle. The primary goal of finding your pet a new home is getting them to a family that will love and care for them as well as you did. It’s daunting to put up your animal on pet rehoming sites or dog adoption sites. You don’t know who will contact you about your pet. So it’s best to start with people you know.
Reach out to your family about your situation. See if any of them are interested in taking them in. If no one in your family can take them, reach out to friends. Post about your situation on your private Facebook page, so that only people you know can see it. You’ll feel more confident finding them a home with someone you already know.
Once you’ve exhausted this step, it’s time to reach out to a shelter.
How to Rehome a Pet: Working With a Shelter
A shelter’s number one job is finding the right home for animals. They’re going to do the best they can to help your pet find their forever home. And they’ll have the most traffic of responsible people looking for animals. When people in your town type in “adopt a dog near me” into Google, those rescues will populate the top search results.
Call your shelter about their intake policy. Give them honest answers when they ask questions, and give them as much information as you possibly can. If they can take your animal, great! If possible, try to give them a donation and any supplies you still have. Taking in an animal is a costly process for a shelter.
However, not all shelters have space all the time. They are constrained by the amount of space they have available, and unfortunately, they cannot always accept new intakes. If they can’t help, ask if they have a suggestion on another rescue who can. If they don’t have a suggestion, ask if they can make a courtesy post for you on their social media. You can leverage their network of followers to reach local animal lovers who might have an interest in your pet.
Do not do what Aloy’s previous owners did and anonymously drop them off. It puts the animal in danger, and it hinders the shelter’s ability to find them the right home, as they don’t have the animal’s history.
Rehoming a Pet on Your Own
So you did what you can, but no shelters in your area have availability for new intakes. It’s time to take a look at pet rehoming sites and pet finding websites.
There are many different avenues you can take when leveraging the internet to find a place to rehome your pet. You can start with Facebook. Search for a rehoming group that’s specific to your state. For example, we’re a part of the Delaware’s Lost & Found Pets & Rehoming Page. See if there’s something similar in your area.
If there is, make sure to follow the group guidelines when posting. They’re there to prevent your post getting taken down by Facebook, as selling live animals on Facebook is not permitted. When posting, make sure you show clear, flattering pictures of your animal by themselves. Write out all the details that the page asks for. Explain why you need to rehome them. If you don’t give their future parents the full story, they might need to turn around and rehome them again. For example, if you need to rehome your pet because they get anxious and unpredictable around children, do not say they’re a family friendly dog. Don’t sugarcoat their issues, because deception will only result in a bad rehoming. Even if it takes longer, you want to get this right so they never have to experience it again.
Once people reach out to your post, carefully take a look at their profile. If the profile has little on it, or hasn’t existed long, that’s a red flag. Search the group to see what their activity on the page has been like. Always require a rehoming fee and meet them in person. Watch your animal’s body language when meeting the new person.
And when making a Facebook post, do it in a dedicated group, not as a marketplace listing. One, it’s against Facebook policies, and two, admins have done work to curate the group and reduce the number of possible scammers out there. Still, once you decide to meet up, be very thorough in your vetting of the applicant.
Pet Rehoming Sites
So you didn’t get any leads from Facebook. It’s time to turn to a site specifically built for rehoming your pet.
If you’re looking for how to rehome a pet on Craigslist, we do not recommend this approach. Animal abusers commonly scour Craigslist for cheap or free animals. At least if you’re posting on Facebook, you can take a look at their profile.
For sites like PetFinder, you need to be an official rescue to have a page. You can’t just upload your pet on your own. However, the site AdoptAPet has a specific section called Rehome by AdoptAPet. They walk you through the process of rehoming your animal so you make the right choice.
If you’re interested in working with a different program, you can apply for the Find a Family program here at Creative Haven Homestead. See if this program is right for you, and contact us with any questions.
How to Get Over the Guilt of Rehoming a Dog (or Any Animal)
The guilt of rehoming a dog, or any pet, can feel overwhelming. When choosing pet adoption, you’re promising them that you’ll be there for them forever. Sometimes life forces you to break that promise. The best way to handle this guilt is putting every effort in to make sure your pet finds the best new home possible. If you’re working with a shelter, try to donate so they can help animals like yours in the future. If you’re rehoming dogs or other pets on your own, make sure you’re very picky with who you select. Rehoming a puppy might prove easier than rehoming an elderly dog. Don’t give up, and don’t settle. If you have to rehome a pet, make sure you find them a home that’s really special. You owe it to them.