How to Re-Home Your Pet

The best way to re-home your pet is to do it yourself


Doing it yourself is the only way you can be sure your pet goes to a really great home and will be cared for. If you’re rehoming a dog, you can also ensure they are not sold to a puppy farmer or spend a lonely night in a cell, only to be killed while surrounded by strangers.

Getting yourself ready to rehome your pet…

  1. Give yourself plenty of time
    There are dogs and cats that have been sitting in shelters for months waiting for the right home, so you have to accept that it can take a long while to find a pet a home. Give yourself plenty of time to place your pet responsibly, seeking out the right family who are willing to care for them for life.
  2. Call the person you got the pet from
    Make your first call to the breeder, rescue, or person you originally got your pet from. Responsible breeders will either assist you in finding a new home, or take the pet back to rehome themselves. Many rescues also state in their contracts that the pet can be returned to them, no matter how much time has passed.
  3. If your pet can’t be returned, evaluate their adoption potential
    When considering putting your pet up for adoption, you need to be realistic. If your pet is old, a large breed dog, has health issues, or is unfriendly towards strangers, it will take a long time to find a new home, possibly many months. Realize that rehoming won’t happen immediately.
  4. Identify the ideal home for your pet
    Make a list of what you feel is most important for your pet. What kind of environment does he need? Is he ok with children? Is he OK with other pets? What kind of people would suit his personality and energy levels?

Once you have a firm idea of what you’re looking for, it will be easier to plan your search and get the results you want for your pet.

Getting your pet ready to be rehomed…

  1. Get your pet spay/neutered
    If you have no records or knowledge of your pet being altered, make sure this is the first thing you do. Why? Because there’s a $million puppy farming industry that gets its breeding stock by duping people like you out of their unsterilized animals to breed them for profit.

    These breeding dogs receive little or no medical care, they’re kept penned, are over-bred until deemed unusable and then they’re disposed of. These puppy farms target both cross-breed and purebred dogs, but small breeds such as Maltese and popular breeds like Labradors are especially sought after.

    Make sure your pet doesn’t meet this fate. Eliminate all bogus callers by having your pet altered and advertising it as such. If you’re unable to afford the cost of surgery, there are many organizations offering discount programs.  In Louisville, check out SNIP Clinic, LMAS, or contact Shamrock Pet Foundation for a voucher to help with the expense of spay/neuter.
  2. Get your pet’s health checked
    Your pet will be much more appealing to adopters if he’s healthy. So book him in for a full health check at the vet and make sure he’s up to date with his vaccinations, heartworm negative and on heartworm prevention (dogs) or felv/fiv negative (cats). Ask your vet for a printout of his medical history and start a folder of information about your pet.
  3. Prepare a general history
    Add a profile of your pet’s history to their file, including details about their food preferences, favorite treats and toys, relationships with other animals and other likes and dislikes. All this information will help potential adopters get acquainted with the pet and make the transition to a new home much easier for your pet too.
  4. Grooming
    A bathed pet with trimmed nails, clean ears and a well-groomed coat is much more desirable to potential adopters than a smelly, messy-looking one. So get out your grooming tools or get down to the grooming parlor.
  5. Take a good picture
    While your pet is clean and freshly groomed, take his photo to place on posters and websites. A good photo plays a big part in helping potential adopters connect with your pet, so make sure your pet is relaxed and doesn’t look anxious or scared.

    Keep the photograph simple. Ideally, the pet should be looking at the camera, with a focus on the face and eyes. Discard any photos with red or glowing eyes!
  6. Set an adoption fee
    Charging an adoption fee ensures that you only receive inquiries from people who are genuinely ready to accept the cost of pet ownership. Of course, people won’t be expecting to pay the same price for a rehomed pet as they would for a brand new puppy or kitten, but a reasonable range might be between $75 and $150, which helps offset your advertising and veterinary costs.

    Most importantly, never include the phrase ‘free to good home’ in your advertisement – even if you’re not planning to charge a fee.

    If a potential adopter isn’t willing to pay a fee, or complains that the price is too high, it’s likely they won’t be prepared to spend the necessary money to have the pet treated for minor injury or illness.

How and where to advertise…

Family members and friends

Some of the best homes are with people who already know and like your pet. Friends and family may be willing to offer your pet a new home, so ask around your immediate circle first. Then perhaps try posting a message on your Facebook page, or noticeboards at work and school.

Out and about

Do you visit a dog park? Ask around to find out if anyone is looking for a new pet. If your pet stays at a boarding kennel when you go on vacation, call them to see if they can ask around for you or post a flyer in their waiting room or at the vet’s office. Dog washers and dog walkers are also good contacts to find out who’s looking for a new pet. Ask pretty much everyone you deal with on a daily basis – you never know who might come forward!

Classified ads

Don’t be afraid to use classified ads to advertise your pet. For many people seeking a pet, the local newspaper is the first place they look. Be sure to mention your pet is spay/neutered to ensure you only receive inquiries from people genuinely seeking a family companion.

Club newsletters

If you’re a member of a church, club or group, ask if you can place an advert in their newsletter or on their bulletin board.


Put up flyers in your local supermarkets, vets and community centers. Email a flyer to all of your friends and ask them to add it to their breakroom bulletin boards. Some rescue groups will also allow you to display a flyer at their premises for free, or in exchange for a small donation.


The internet is a wonderful place to reach many people looking for a pet and there are lots of classifieds resources online. Some rescue groups may allow you to place an ad on their website for free, or in exchange for a small donation.

Things to include in your advertising and flyers

  • Accurately describe the appearance, size and age of your pet
  • Include the pet’s name and a good photograph
  • Mention that the pet is altered
  • Describe his/her nature and appealing qualities
  • Define any limitations the pet might have (e.g. not good with cats or small children)
  • Don’t forget your phone number and the times you can be reached

Screening callers

You have every right to screen all potential new owners who inquire about your pet. Don’t let anyone rush or intimidate you. Think of it as an adoption, not a sale. Choose the person you think will make the best companion for your pet.

If someone responds to your advertisement, you should screen them over the phone before introducing them to the animal. This will help you rule out any unsuitable adopters early on.

To start, you might say: “This dog/cat is very special to me, and I am looking for just the right home for him/her. Would you mind if I asked you a few questions about yourself and your home?”

Let all applicants know you will be checking references and need to speak to their vet (if they’ve had pets before).

Once you’ve chosen a family (or families) that you feel are good candidates, arrange two meetings with the potential new owners – the first appointment for them to meet the pet, and the second for you to see their home. If the first meeting goes well, ask them to fill out an application.

We strongly advise that you do not hand over your pet until you’ve seen the adopter’s living arrangements. It’s all too easy for people to tell you what you want to hear, rather than how it actually is. By seeing their home you’ll be able to gauge their suitability as an owner.

Trust your instincts. If you have any concerns, don’t be afraid to discuss them or to reject their application. To make a non-confrontational exit, tell them other people are also interested in meeting your pet and that you’ll get back to them.

Important things to mention to the new owners

All rehomed pets go through an adjustment period as they get to know their new people, learn new rules and mourn the loss of their old family. Most pets adjust within a few days, but others may take longer.

Advise the new family to take things easy at first, avoiding anything stressful, such as bathing their new pet, attending obedience training classes or meeting too many strangers at once. Assure them this will give the pet time to settle in and bond with them.

Tell them not to worry if the pet does not eat for the first day or two; he’ll eat when he’s ready.

Some of the best house-trained pets can temporarily forget the rules. Assure the new owners that it’s not unusual for rehomed pets to have an accident during the first day in their new home and it rarely happens more than once.

The paperwork

Have the new owner sign an adoption contract, including a waiver of liability, and keep a copy for your records.

A contract will help protect the pet, while the waiver of liability helps protect you. But remember, it will not protect you if you have lied or misrepresented your pet to his new owners.

Tell the family they should call you if the adoption doesn’t work out. Let them know you want to keep in touch and will call them in a few days to see how things are going. Tell them to call you if they have questions or problems. Be willing to take the pet back if things don’t work out the way you both expected.

Finding a new home for a pet can take some time, but the effort that you put in now will be worth it when you find a great forever home for him.

Notes on rehoming a stray

If you find a stray animal, first you need to find out if it has an owner. If you rehome a pet that isn’t homeless, you are effectively selling stolen goods.

Contact your local animal control office or animal shelter to seek advice and information about the legal requirements for handling found pets in your area.