Adopt a Rescued Dog
Care for & Train Dogs
Handouts & Stuff
Learn the Facts
Talk to Owners
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Finding Homes for Dogs
Generating Interest | Screening Applicants | Download Application
So you've rescued a chained dog or want to place your own dog with another family.
on rehabilitating chained or neglected dogs may be helpful.
Although some chained dogs are aggressive, most are trainable
and able to be placed as family pets. See some of the chained dogs we
rescued and placed into loving homes.
Finding a home for a dog is easy; finding a good home is hard.
You want to be sure your rescued dog does not end up neglected or on a chain
Read why Free to a Good Home is
dangerous for rescued dogs.
- The Basics: Itís easier to find homes for dogs that are spayed, vaccinated, wormed, and housebroken.
- Good Photos: Wash her, put a bandana or
ribbon on her, and get her in good light. Get
on the floor and take photos at the dogís level so the camera is looking straight into her face, not down at her. Plan to take a whole roll of film,
or many digital photos, to get a really good shot. A good photo makes a world of difference in getting people interested in your dog!
I have gotten tons of responses on average looking, mixed breed adult dogs by
marketing the dog with good photos and clever descriptions!
Download a flyer template. Make signs with the dogís description and photo.
Put your number/email on pre-cut tabs along the bottom for people to pull off. Post
on your work or church bulletin board, at vet offices, dog parks, dog groomers, libraries, restaurants, Starbucks
(most have a community board), drug and grocery stores, etc. Anywhere people wait in line
or gather is a good place to put a sign. Mail signs to friends or libraries in
different parts of town and ask them to post.
If you have an online document storage account such as
Dropbox, post the flyer
there and link to it in your email and social media posts.
- Your Contacts: Email a description and photos to everyone in your address book.
Attach or link to the flyer and ask people to print it and post it at their work, church,
etc. Post the dog on social media and ask your friends to cross-post. Market the dog! Play up her best features.
Make your rescue sound dramatic and compelling. Ask friends to forward the email to everyone they know.
Write, "Please forward widely!" at the top of your email. This is a very effective way to find homes.
The description should include: age; weight; personality, temperament with kids,
cats and other dogs; medical record; whether the dog is housebroken.
- Pure-breds: If the dog is pure-bred, contact
breed rescue organizations in your part of the U.S.
Google rottweiler rescue, pit bull rescue, etc. If there are no
groups in your immediate area, other national groups may have referrals for you.
For instance, a shepherd rescue group Tennessee forwarded me an adoption
application from someone in my own state who was looking for a shep.
- Rescue Groups. Check with local animal rescue groups or humane societies to see if
they can take in your dog or help you place him. Search
Petfinder.com for groups in your area or
google dog rescue along with your city, county, or state. Rescue groups
are usually full and have little money- they are much more likely to help if you can provide a donation
or volunteer. I've had groups tell me they couldn't help until I offered
$50-$100 - that donation made the difference in them being able to take in the
dog. If they can't take your dog, ask if you can bring him to their adoption days or post
him on their website.
- Internet: Post the dog on
Petfinder.com. One of your local rescue
groups may post him for you on their Petfinder page. Post the dog on your social
media sites and ask your friends to spread the word.
- Ads: Consider placing an ad in the newspaper
only if the above options don't work. I have found good homes via the paper, but
have also gotten phone calls from some scary people. (A hoarder. Someone who
wanted to feed my kitten to a snake. Seriously!) Include an adoption fee in the ad and
ask lots of questions (see below). Some people collect free animals and sell
them to research labs or want them for other illegal or cruel reasons.
You owe it to your dog to find her a home where she will live the rest of her
life with love and comfort. You need to ask lots of questions of anyone who
wants to adopt your dog. Situations to watch out for:
- Military people who move a lot. Military folks sometimes end up taking their pets
to shelters when they have to move or get called up for duty. Since military people
often donít have family where they are stationed, they sometimes have no other place to take the dog. Of course, there are many
pet guardians in the military. You just need to be sure there is a plan for the
animal if the adopter has to suddenly leave. (This is based on
my experience living near an Air Force base and seeing service people
distraught about having to give up their dog.)
- Young people who are unsettled, in college, or moving around a lot. Some apartments donít allow pets. Some only allow pets under a certain weight with a large deposit, which many young people canít afford.
Young people tend to move frequently between rental houses and apartments, and
the next move may not allow them to keep their animal.
- People who want pets as toys for their children. Most kids will
LOSE INTEREST within days, while the dog could live over 10 years and will need daily care long after the children tire of playing with
her. Remind parents that dogs are expensive, needing annual vet care and monthly
heartworm preventative and flea treatment. Puppies may destroy things and
require patience in housebreaking.
If the parents arenít in love with the pet, I
wonít adopt to them. (I had a guy insist on getting a kitten for his
two-year old. The kitten was going to live in the garage and the man had no
interest in caring for a cat. Yet he got furious that I wouldn't adopt to him.
It was just like he was buying a toy at the toy store. Stick to your guns and think about where that animal will be in six months when
the new family has lost interest.)
- People who want to give pets as gifts. A dog is a 10-15 year commitment-- expensive and time-consuming. Everyone in the household needs to agree on what kind of dog they want, meet the dog to be sure they like her, and
commit to caring for her.
Christmas Day is a stressful day to bring a dog home. People want to spend the
holiday celebrating, not trying to housetrain a dog. Holidays are usually filled
with guests, noise, and new presents and wrapping paper everywhere. Too much
stimulus for a new dog. A leash and collar, along with a flyer from the local
humane society, can be wrapped and placed under the tree as a surprise gift.
- People who wonít allow the dog inside. What is the point of getting a dog if
he is just going to be stuck in the backyard all day? Dogs want to be part of
their human family. An exception would be a farm situation where people are outside all the time with the dog.
Use an adoption application to screen potential adopters
(see below). Ask open-ended questions. Find out in detail what happened to their
past pets. If someone says, ĎWell, one dog got run over, and there was
that one my neighbor tried to shoot but he ran way,Ē
then that person is not a responsible pet guardian. But if their last dog lived to be 12 and died of old age, you know you are talking to a responsible person.
Some irresponsible people have learned what rescue groups want to hear
and will lie on their applications, which is why vet and home checks are
so important. (A man told me, "My babies all sleep on our bed and line
up for treats and we dote on them" when in reality his last three dogs
lived outside and were poisoned. You can trust most people - I
just can't stress enough the importance of doing your homework!)
Do a vet check. Call the vet listed on the application and say,
"Hello, one of your clients might adopt a dog from me. I was calling to be
sure their current dog (or previous dog) is current on vaccinations and
heartworm preventative." If the vet tells you they have no record of the
people, or that they owe them $600, or that they haven't been in 5
years, then you know that the people are not the right home.
But if the vet tells you that the people are wonderful pet guardians, then
chances are it will be a good home.
Do a home check. Before finalizing the adoption, bring the dog
to the potential adopter's home so you can check out their fence,
introduce the dog to other pets and kids, and see for yourself if you like
the home. Just say, "I want to be sure the dog gets along with your other
dogs" or "I want to be sure he can't get out of your fence" rather than
making it sound like "I am coming to check you out!" (even though you
If someone does not want you to come to their house, that is
probably a bad sign. (Like the hoarder who didn't want me to come to her
house, but I said I had to let the cat meet her dog on his territory.
This house was straight off the tv show. Turns out she wanted a cat to
kill rats.) Responsible people will understand your need to find
the right home for the dog and will welcome you and the dog to their home
for a visit.
Have the adopter sign a contract. That way you can get the dog back should the new family mistreat her.
A contract also gives you legal protection should the dog hurt someone or
destroy something at the new home.
Remember--adopting a dog is a privilege, not a right! It can be hard
to find responsible people who are willing to properly care for a dog for
10-15 years. You do not want to give your dog to people who will dump him
at a shelter or give him away. If you do not feel comfortable with a potential
tell them that their home isn't the right fit for your dog or that you
have other calls to return. Try to educate
them if possible (for instance, on the need for sterilization or heartworm
preventative or a fence.) Your foster
dog is depending totally on you to find him a home where he will receive
vet care and daily love and attention for the rest of his life.
There are good homes out there - every day loving pet owners lose their
pets to death and are looking for new ones - but it can take time and
several not-so-good applications until you get a good one.
An application is the best way to find out more about potential adopters.
Having someone fill out an application shows that you are serious about placing
the dog in a good home. A contract is important in two ways: it will allow you
to get the animal back if necessary, and it gives you legal protection should
the dog hurt someone or something in the new home.
The versions below are identical, but saved as different file-types. You can
edit the Word document to fit the particular adoption you are working on--you
can add questions, your contact info, etc.
Be sure and give a copy of the completed application/contract to the adopter.
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