" I have to move and can't take my dog/cat/iguana etc with me"
This is a sentence uttered quite often at local shelters. So lets talk about it. First, we have to consider that everyone has been hit hard in this economy and many people are losing their homes and/or apartments as they lose their jobs. Its a fact of life.
At the same time, sometimes there are ways to avoid losing the pet when moving, and most certainly, a better way to transition the pet if surrender is necessary.
Before your move, check this site to help you locate pet friendly apartments. It would also behoove your local shelter and humane society to keep a list of local apartments that rent to pet owners.
The US government, realizing that many people would rather be living in substandard condition rather than give up their pets passed a law that many people are unaware of:
"Tenants in "federally assisted" housing for the elderly or handicapped are allowed by law to own pets. (Housing and Urban-Rural Recovery Act of 1983, 12 U.S.C. section 1701r-1.) This rule applies even if the federal government does not own the rental housing—it's enough that a federal agency (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, for example) subsidizes it. Owners and managers may place reasonable regulations on pets, after consulting with tenants. Contact a local HUD office or your county Housing Authority to find out if a particular rental is covered."
This also applies to disabled individuals, particularly if the pet is an emotional support pet as designated by your doctor. For more information about this law, please click here.
Next, talk to the landlord of the potential place you will be renting and ask for specifics about the "no pet" rule. You may find that he/she is referring to dogs/cats only, and your iquana or bearded dragon is no problem. Also inquire as to whether a little extra rent per month would persuade the landlord to reconsider. In one house I rented many years ago, I agreed that in exchange for allowing pets, I would improve the property over time. I painted the entire house, inside and out which helped the landlord when it was time for me to move out. I made sure no damage was caused by my pets, and if it was, I repaired it at my cost. If I ever needed a good reference for further renting, I proved my worth as a tenant and was more likely to be trusted with pets down the road.
So what if you have done all these things and you still are not allow to take your pets with you? First, is your situation temporary? Perhaps a friend would be willing to care for Sparky for a few months. Never hurts to ask. If that is not a possibility, what is the best way to go about finding a new home?
There is nothing that ticks me off more than an ad that reads "Dog free to good home: must get rid of today". First, your dog is not trash to "get rid of". Second, you were probably aware long ago that you would probably need to rehome your pet, so be responsible about it.
If you know the move is coming in a month or two, contact a local rescue group and see if they would be willing to do a courtesy listing for you on www.Petfinder.org. Having your pet adopted out through a rescue organization should ensure that the applicant has been carefully considered by the rescue and his or her references checked. Instead of dumping your pet at the rescue, "foster" your pet at your home until a good match is found.
If your dog is a particular breed, look for breed rescues. Some rescues specialize in German Shepherds for instance, and may even consider a mix breed that is "close enough". Be willing to look not only in your immediate area, but in neighboring states. Thanks to the power of the internet and social networking sites, there is a great network of animal rescuers who will drive and even fly a pet to another rescue to save his/her life. Be willing to be the driver, or help pay for gas.
At the Scott County Humane Society in Gate City, VA, for instance, we were able to arrange transport of nearly a dozen chihuahuas to a huge and fabulous rescue called Popcorn Park in NJ. The power of Facebook networking and the willingness to ask, makes a world of difference.
A lot of people immediately look for "no kill" rescues, which is understandable. But not all "no kill" rescues are alike, so research the rescue first. Keep in mind, if an animal can't find a home in a no kill facility, that sometimes means a lifetime in a cage. Not all "no kill" shelters have a good group of volunteers willing to foster. One way to find out their reputation is to Google their name. Reviews may come up that you wouldn't have seen otherwise.
"Kill shelters" are often given a bad reputation. I hate to use that term, because they are not evil entities. In fact, they are usually the good guys who are willing to work in an environment where they know they will love an animal only to have to euthanize her. I've noticed over the years having volunteered and worked in "kill shelters" that the same people who condemn the shelter are the same ones who allow their pets to breed or who say they love animals "too much" to work in a place "like that". They refuse to volunteer at weekend adoption events or even buy kitty litter for the shelter. One thing I can tell you, although no two shelters are the same, most have good people who love animals enough to allow themselves to hurt when they can't save them all.
So, with that said, save a "kill"shelter for last. Not only for your pet, but for the people who work there. If you do take your pet there, offer something that will be a great incentive for adoption. For instance, if he/she is not already altered (spayed/neutered), offer to pay for it. Get the pet fully vaccinated at least two weeks before entering the shelter. That will protect the pet and also give her an extra boost for adoption. Write down anything you know about him. Is he good with kids? Get along with other animals? Is she house broken? Did she go to obedience school? Does he love to cuddle? Is he a great lap dog? Particularly gentle? Consider it like writing a resume for a job, but never lie. If your dog hates kids, make sure they know that. If he is owner protective, or food aggressive, be honest about it. It may not disqualify him for adoption, but it will help the shelter place him in a situation to suit his needs.
As tempting as it is to give your pet away free to "save" him/her from the "pound", please do not adopt to the first person who responds without consideration of what type of person they are. Dog fighters are notorious for responding to free ads for bait dogs. Free rats or bunnies to good homes, often get to be snake dinner. A free indoor cat can end up a barn cat, which is not in itself bad, but if the cat is older and declawed, she may suddenly find herself in a position to defend herself without the necessary tools. If you are going to advertise on your own, ask for a rehoming fee, and use the same criteria used by rescue groups. Ask for references including the vet they use. And call them all. Find out what kind of facility the pet will be living in. If the dog is going to be tied out in the back yard, that is most likely dooming him/her to a lifetime of boredom and neglect. Ask if you can come by to see where your pet will be living. If they say "no", don't adopt the pet to them. A family who knows they will provide a good home would have no trouble showing you the love their home provides. Be diligent. Its the least you could do for your pet.