Friday, April 13, 2012

Guidelines for Re-Homing A Dog


In case you are in a situation where you are fostering a stray dog and cannot keep him/her, or you must re-home your own dog for a valid reason, I've written some guidelines to ensure that your dog goes to a good home.

CRAIGLIST

Craigslist's Community-Pets section is a good place to post an ad (although you have to make sure you screen potential adopters very carefully).  It always helps to post cute photos of the dog, and as many details about the dog as possible, such as age, temperament, neuter status, health, likes/dislikes, training history, dog-friendly, people-friendly, good with kids, etc. so you can find good adoption candidates and eliminate bad ones right off the bat.  It also helps to post the ad in first person, as if the dog is writing it.  For example:

"Hi, my name is Kona and I'm a super-friendly 2.5 yr old male neutered Lab mix who is looking for a forever home because my current owner passed away.  I like children but I'd probably do best in a home with no children, because I'm big and strong and could knock a baby over.  I love to swim and run so it would be a plus if you are active and enjoy going to the beach!"

...and so on.  People like to hear a little history about the dog too, such as where he came from, and why he needs a new home.

Talking to potential adopters on the phone first will give you a good idea of whether they are a good match.  If they are, you can set up an appointment to meet them in person.

Information you'll want to post about your dog include:

GENERAL DOG INFO
* Is your dog neutered or spayed?
* Is your dog up to date on all vaccinations?
* Age?
* Male or female?
* Breed or breed mix?
* Weight?
* General health?
* Is your dog on flea/tick preventative, heartworm preventative?

DOG BEHAVIOR INFO
* Is your dog potty trained?
* What energy level is your dog (i.e. low, medium, high, super high)?
* Does your dog get along with other dogs? If not, please describe.
* Does your dog get along with cats?
* How is your dog with young children?
* Does your dog have any behavioral issues that adopters should be aware of? (You should be honest here, for the sake of everyone's safety.)
* What does your dog do that is cute or endearing?
* What activities does your dog enjoy that will help potential adopters better understand his or her personality?

YOUR INFO
* What are the circumstances for your having to re-home your dog?
* Are you asking for a re-homing fee? If so, what?
* In what area of Oahu do you live?
* What is the best way for potential adopters to reach you? Provide phone number and/or email.

* Do you have a deadline for re-homing your dog?

Important Note: If your dog has issues with other dogs/people/children, it is important that you let potential adopters know, rather than hide it because you are worried your dog won't get adopted.  Even if you might get less people inquiring about your dog, you can be comfortable knowing that only people who accept and can manage your dog's issues will adopt your dog.  You don't necessarily have to post details of behavioral problems on the ad itself, but you should mention it on the phone or in person.

PHOTO TIPS
When posting a photo in an ad or flyer, it helps to post a cute photo of the dog.  You will get a lot more responses if the dog looks happy and approachable rather than scared or unkempt. 


Photo Tip: Putting a plumeria behind her ear makes her look even cuter than she is! Get creative with props. You can use leis, bandanas, toys, and more. Just make sure your dog isn't stressed out by the props.
Photo Tip: Try to capture your dog "smiling" (mouth open, tongue hanging) and looking happy. An active shot (playing, running) is also nice, although harder to capture.
Photo Tip: This is an example of a less than ideal photo - you can't see the dog's face, he has red dirt all over his fur and he looks ragged in general.

Photo Tip: This is another less than ideal photo, taken at the vet clinic. Her body is tense, mouth closed and looking away from the camera.

LOCAL RESCUE ORGANIZATIONS
Another option you can pursue in conjunction is the local dog rescue groups.  On Oahu there are several including Hawaii Dog Foundation, HARF (Hawaii Animal Rescue Foundation), K9 Kokua, Oahu SPCA.  Most of them are very busy with stray animals and most likely will not be able to take in an owner-relinquished dog, but they may be able to help you in other ways.

For instance, Hawaii Dog Foundation will let you post an ad on their Private Adoptions page for a small donation.  The Private Adoption ad will be seen by potential adopters who will contact you directly if they are interested.  For more info go to:
 

http://www.hawaiidogfoundation.org/meet-more-dogs-courtesy-listing/apply-for-courtesy-listing/

You may also ask if you can attend their adoption events and showcase your dog to potential adopters.

SHELTER
The Hawaiian Humane Society is Oahu's only open admissions shelter, meaning they will accept animals at all times, including owner-relinquished dogs.  Because they are open admissions, they cannot possibly have enough space for all relinquished and stray animals.  Nor can they possibly adopt out all animals.  Inevitably, some animals may be euthanized.

If you are turning in a stray dog, you can ask HHS to put your contact info into the dog's record, and to contact you if the dog is deemed "unadoptable" for medical or behavioral reasons.  You will then have the choice to adopt the dog back out of HHS, and seek out other options for finding a home for the dog.  However, if the dog is deemed "adoptable," then he or she will be placed in one of their adoption kennels and hopefully will find a happy forever home.

VET CLINICS and PET STORES
You can also make and post flyers at vet clinics and pet stores.  In addition, talk directly to the vets, vet techs and pet store employees.  Pet professionals often know of people who are looking to adopt a particular kind of dog, or a new dog because their old dog passed away.

ADOPTION APPLICATION
If you want to ensure that your dog goes to a good home, it's a good idea to ask potential adopters to fill out an application.  This will not only show you how sincere they are, but will also allow you to see on paper if they are a good fit for your dog.  Here's a link to an adoption application you can use:  http://www.countrycaninehawaii.com/AdoptionApplication.doc

RE-HOMING FEE - YAY OR NAY?
Some people think that asking for an adoption fee is inappropriate, as if it makes you look like you're selling an animal just for the money.  I personally think that an adoption fee is a good idea because it shows you that a) the adopter can afford to care for the animal - after all, they will have to spend money on medical bills and food after the adoption, and b) the adopter is not just looking for a free dog that they might resell for profit, or even worse, give to a dog-fighting ring.

$75-$150 seems to be what most people ask for, but you can ask for more if you paid for neutering or spaying a stray animal that you are fostering.

HOME VISIT and MEET AND GREET
Once you have found the right adopter, the last thing you will want to do is to visit their home to make sure the house is clean, safe and suitable for a dog.  If the adopter doesn't want you to see their home, it's a red flag.

Also, if the adopter has other pets, you will want to make sure that all animals get along.  If their existing dog is territorial, introduce the dogs to each other on neutral ground.  You can also hire a dog trainer to help with dog introductions.

SPAYING AND NEUTERING
In order to minimize pet overpopulation and irresponsible breeding, it's a good idea to spay or neuter your dog before you place him in a new home.  The adopter may say they will not breed the dog, but the reality is that most people don't intentionally breed their dogs.  It happens by accident.  If you can't afford the spay/neuter surgery, you can get a "Neuter Now" discount certificate at City Hall, or use an inexpensive vet clinic, such as North Shore Vet.  You can also pass the surgery expense on to the adopter, stating that the adoption fee includes spay/neuter.


ADOPTION CONTRACT
Below is a link to an adoption contract you can have your dog's adopter read and sign.  Hopefully you will never have to use the contract against the adopter, but if you do, you will have a legal document allowing you to take your dog back if necessary.

http://www.countrycaninehawaii.com/AdoptionContract.doc

SUMMARY
I hope the above guidelines are helpful to you.  If you have questions about the re-homing process, feel free to email me.  I am always happy to help people who care about the well-being of dogs.

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