Lately, in East Tennessee, we have noticed an individual, or indivduals, responding to the "Free to a Good Home" ads. She/he claims to be the new FOREVER home home and loved on the pet in your presence, takes the pet home, and the pet disappears in days.
Its nothing new. When I was a kid, a local "animal lover" was caught up in a scandal of acquiring animals to sell for experimentation. Only then the acquiring was done by stealing family pets and grabbing every stray pet he could find.
Its much easier now to acquire those pets. With Craigslist, the classifieds, online yard sale groups, and sites dedicated to finding good homes for pets, answer an ad, seem nice enough, and the owner unwittingly hands you the pet thinking their pet will be safe.
Most people believe they can spot a bad person, but the was proven untrue locally when that "bad person" was a sweet late-teen-to-early-twenties young mother who said it was for her son's birthday.
Now it has been confirmed by Facebook posts that she was putting them up for sale almost immediately after taking them home.
So what is the proper way to rehome a pet? While there is never any full proof way, the following will go much further to ensure a good home is chosen. These are some methods used by rescue groups to screen the potential home:
- NEVER adopt on a first come-first serve basis. May work for yard sale items, but not living and breathing creatures. NEVER advertise "must go today". Not only does that sound like you don't give a crap about the pet, it means you will give him/her to the first person who shows up.
- NEVER offer the pets for free. It attracts the bad guys. Insist on a rehoming fee. For bunnies, guinea pigs, hamsters, make sure the fee is high enough not to attract someone looking for lunch for their snakes.
- Have them fill out an application for the pet online that also serves as a contract that the pet will not be sold for profit, baiting, experimentation but that you will be contacted first if it doesn't work out. Make sure they know that you will verify their information when you meet. If they refuse, they don't get the pet.
- Get their name, address, phone, and drivers license number and confirm it when they come to get the pet.
- Ask for references. Particularly vet references. You want to know their history on how they treated their other pets. If its not good or they have a history of giving away their pets, don't adopt to them. Also ask for the name of their landlord and make sure they are allowed pets. Although some good people sneak animals into homes/apartments, if the landlord finds out, the pet will have to be rehomed again.
- Insist you bring the pet to THEIR home. You want to see the environment. Watch how they and/or the kids interact with your pet. If your pet piddles on the floor and they don't get upset and just clean it up, that's probably a good sign. If they get upset in front of you, what will they do when you are gone? If you are not comfortable with what you see, don't leave the pet.
- Be honest about your pet. If he/she is not potty trained, tell them. Its one of the top reasons people will get rid of a pet. Never adopt a pet who does not get alone well with other pets or children into a home that has one. Your pet will be the first out the door when it doesn't go well.
- If your pet is not spayed/neutered, offer to give them their rehoming fee back once you receive proof that this has been done. Typically, in my experience, those who refuse to spay a female are only looking for a breeding bitch and another way to make money. There are almost always local groups or clinics that will spay, neuter, vaccinate, and more at a reduced price. Better yet, do all that before you rehome them. That's the way good rescue groups work.
- If your pet is microchipped, some recommend keeping the information in your name so you are contacted if the pet is surrendered to the shelter or if he/she runs away from a bad situation.
- For puppies, NEVER adopt them out until they are fully and naturally weaned. They will have no immunity if ripped away from their mother and their chances of survival are little. If for some reason, the mother rejects them, and you need help bottle feeding, only choose experienced people to adopt to or to foster.
- If you decide your young pet is going to have to go to the shelter or rescue group, please vaccinate 1-2 weeks before taking him/her in if possible (not before 6 weeks old). An unvaccinated or poorly vaccinated puppy or kitten is incredibly susceptible to disease, and although cute puppies and kittens get homes quicker, if they are unvaccinated, their chances of survival are lower.
While these methods may take a little longer to find a good home, it is the least you can do for your pet. My feelings are very strong on this matter. Animals are not commodities to buy at sell without consideration for their welfare. Those who think they are, don't need to have a pet. If for any reason, you get the feeling that perhaps you have chosen the wrong person for your pet, never hesitate to change your mind. Your pet's quality of life is dependent on it.