Guidelines for the Sale or Give-away of Your Companion Animal

This writeup is adapted from a brochure produced by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. You may also wish to review our PAW procedures and application forms for further ideas.

You care about your companion animal and you want to find him or her a good home. But remember that not every inquirer will share your understanding or concerns. Your careful screening of prospects will provide the information you need to select a good home and help insure that the animal you place will still be cared for for his or her lifetime. Don't be afraid to ask questions and make stipulations, or to say "no." The questions in this handout are designed to give you necessary information about a caller's attitude and level of responsibility.

Questions to Ask

1. Why do you want a dog or cat?

Look for someone who wants an animal to be part of the family as a household companion. Beware of people seeking a large dog for guarding purposes or someone wanting a dog or cat for breeding. Guard dogs are often discarded when their usefulness is over, and the last thing you want to do is contribute to the overpopulation problem by allowing breeding. If someone wants an animal as a gift for a friend or relative, insist that the person who will spend the next decade or more with the dog or cat be involved in the selection. If a minor calls, ask to speak with his or her parents.

2. Have you had animals before? What happened to them? Do you have animals now?

People who have never had animals before should be advised of the considerable expense and responsibility involved yin caring for them, including exercise, food bills, and veterinary needs. Someone who has had several animals who were either stolen, killed by cars, lost or given away is undoubtedly a poor prospect. If the prospect has recently lost an animal, or has one currently in his or her home, ask for the name and phone number of their veterinarian. Call the vet to determine the quality of care that the animal has received--yearly vaccinations, yearly heartworm test for dogs and heartworm preventative on a yearly basis, appropriate and immediate medical care when necessary.

3. Is someone home during the day?

Animals accustomed to companionship may become frantic and even destructive if left alone for long periods. Also, puppies need to be fed three to four times daily and need careful attention during housebreaking. Decide if this animal will suit the prospective owner's life-style. In the end, it is the animal who suffers most from a poor placement.

4. If you move or travel, what will happen?

Care for an animal can a 10- 15- 20-year commitment (the life of the animal). Remind prospects that they may have to board animals during vacations and must plan for their needs if contemplating a move.

5. Is your yard fenced?

A well-fenced yard is advisable although not always necessary. People without an enclosed yard may allow a dog to run loose, which is illegal and dangerous, or chain him or her up, which can be a frustrating, desolate existence. Tell the prospect that you will want to see the yard. This should be enough to discourage an insincere caller. If the prospect does not have a fenced yard or lives in a condo/apartment, do not discourage them from applying. You will have to determine their level of commitment to walking the dog (on leash) frequently enough for the dog to get daily exercise and to go the the bathroom as often as is needed.

6. Where will you keep the animal?

Be wary of people who talk about having a dog live on the back porch, in a dog house, in the garage, or in the basement. They are probably not interested in making the animal a household companion. Do not adopt to anyone who lets a cat out without benefit of a leash or screened enclosure. It takes but one second for a cat to wander off one's property and become a victim of cars, traps, other animals, poisons, and people.

7. How do you feel about spaying and neutering?

Over 20 million animals are destroyed each year because there are simply not enough homes to go around. Always require that the prospective owner spay or neuter within a specified period to avoid further breeding resulting in more homeless animals. Whenever possible, sterilize sexually mature animals before adoption. If you or the prospect are concerned about neutering costs, call your local humane organization to find out about reduced fee programs. Be cautious if people already have an unaltered animal in their home: they may have breeding in mind.

8. Do you own or rent you home?

If the prospect does not own, see if his or her lease permits animals. Thousands of animals are given up each year after being discovered by the owner of the property. Is the individual aware of additional deposits and monthly charges his or her landlord will add to the rent for the addition of the animal?

9. Who else lives in your home?

Try to determine whether other members of the household want a companion animal or are aware of the caller's plans. Also determine the ages of children. Families with young children should be told that normal puppy play behavior often includes jumping and biting and that puppies and cats/kittens must be protected from rambunctious children.

Releasing Your Animal

Arrange for the good prospect's family to see the animal in your home. Observe the family's reaction. Especially note the reaction of the person who will have primary responsibility for the animal. Be wary of the parent who says, "Johnny will be responsible for the dog," since this could mean that no one will provide regular care or the animal will be given away when Johnny loses interest.

Make sure you have the name, address, phone number, and place of business of the new owner. Requirements, such as spaying/neutering, need to be put in writing and signed by the new owner. This provides a concrete, enforceable agreement. Charge an adoption fee (even as little as $10). If someone balks at the fee, they probably don't have the funds necessary to care for and feed an animal on a long-term basis.

Be sure the animal is wearing an ID tag with your number and the number of the new owner. Advise the owner not to leave the new animal unattended; sense of belonging takes time to develop. A dog who has never chewed a rug or jumped over or dug under a fence may do so in a strange surroundings.

The most important, final kindness is to take the time to deliver the animal to the new home. Don't hand over your animal until you are completely satisfied. If you feel uncomfortable about the size of the yard, condition of the fence or kind of care you believe he or she will receive, the best thing you can do is try again. Never be afraid to say "no"--your animal friend's future may depend on it. Following placement, contact the adopter to see how things are going.

What to Do If You Are Unable to Find That Good Home

Please don't rush into a placement because you are pressured by time. If you are unable to find a good home for your animal, take him or her to an animal shelter operated by a humane organization. Choose a shelter which checks out prospective homes carefully, requires sterilization, does not give animals to research institutions or guard dog companies and if euthanasia becomes necessary, uses a painless sodium pentobarbital injection intravenously.

Do not sell or give your animal to a pet shop. Persons operating pet shops are concerned with running a profit-making business and often have little or no concern about what happens to the animals after they leave the store. Animals are sold to people buying on impulse and to people who are unfit to care for an animal.

As you know, it is necessary to euthanize animals at a shelter if not adopted. Instant death by humane methods is better than a slow death by disease, exposure, starvation, being crushed under the wheels of a car, or the painful living death of negligence or cruelty.

A kind death is certainly better than the lives so many animals lead, tied to the end of chain or kept continually in a garage or basement where fresh air, proper food, clean water, exercise, regular health care, and love are not provided.

Warning!

There are people who are in the business of acquiring animals for research and others who acquire large dogs who are then cruelly trained for sale as guard or attack dogs. These individuals often pretend to seek animals as family companions and bring children or senior citizens with them to gain your confidence. Don't think it can't happen to you.

Always ask for identification (legitimate callers will not object when you tell them why), write down the name and address, and explain that you will visit their home (to insure that they actually live there).

If Your Animal Friend Is Old

Please consider taking your old animal to your veterinarian or a humane shelter to be euthanized if you absolutely cannot keep him or her. Animals who have been with you for a long time suffer and pine terribly and will never understand what they did wrong that made you leave them. Always remain present in the room or require a trusted friend to be with your dog or cat during euthanizing.


Companion Animal Adoption Agreement

This animal's known behavior and medical history have been discussed with me. The animal will receive all the care and attention necessary to ensure his/her health and well-being. He/she will not be abused in any manner and will be a companion living indoors. I agree to provide a buckle collar with an identification tag and to obey leash laws. I understand the animal must be spayed/neutered by___________.

I understand that the person adopting out the animal or his/her representative may visit my home without giving advance notice. If at any time the person adopting out the animal determines that the terms and conditions of this agreement have not been met or that the animal is not receiving proper and humane care, that person may take custody of the animal.

If at any time I cannot keep the animal, the animal will be returned to the person adopting out the animal, or to a proper and humanely run animal shelter. Under no circumstances will the animal be abandoned, sold or given away for experimentation or guarding purposes.

I certify that the following information is correct, and authorize the person adopting out the animal to check my references.

Name

Home and business telephone numbers

Home address

Business name and address

Driver's license#, state, expiration date

Veterinary reference

Signature (adopter)

Date

Signature (owner)

Date


Back to "Finding a Home" Page

Last updated 29 Oct 1999 CLI