Finding Homes for Dogs

Generating Interest | Screening Applicants | Download Application

Perhaps you have rescued a chained dog and want to find her a good home. Or maybe you want to place your own dog with another family. This article on rehabilitating chained or neglected dogs may be helpful to you.

Although some chained dogs are aggressive, many of them are perfectly 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.

Getting People Interested in Your Dog

    Ads: Place an ad in the newspaper. Always charge an adoption fee! Some people collect free animals and sell them to research labs.

    The Basics: It’s easier to find homes for dogs that are already spayed, vaccinated, wormed, and housebroken.

    Pure-breds: If the dog you are trying to place is pure-bred, contact breed rescue organizations. These are people that place homeless dogs of a particular breed. You can find breed rescue groups online by entering the name of the breed and the word “rescue” into a search engine. For example, “rottweiler rescue” or “pit bull rescue.”

    Photos: Take photos of the dog. Wash her, put a bandana on her, and get her in good light. Get down on your knees and take photos at the dog’s 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!

    Your Contacts: Email a description and photo of the dog to everyone in your email address book. The description should include: age; weight; personality, temperament with kids, cats and other dogs; medical record; whether the dog is housebroken. Market the dog! Play up her best features. Make your rescue sound dramatic and compelling. Ask your 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.

    Signs. Make signs with the dog’s description and photo. Write your number on tabs along the bottom of the sign for people to pull off. Post the flyers in vet offices, libraries, restaurants, drug stores, etc. Anywhere people are waiting in line is a good place to put a sign. Mail signs to friends in different parts of town and ask them to post them in their neighborhood.

    Rescue Groups. Check with local rescue groups or humane societies to see if you can bring your dog to adoption days or post your dog on their website.


Screening Applicants

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 often end up taking their pets to shelters when they have to move or get called up for duty. Since military people usually don’t have family in the area, they often have no other place to take the dog. Of course, there are many responsible pet guardians in the military. You just need to be sure there is a plan for the animal if the adopter does have to suddenly leave.

    Young people who are unsettled, in college, or moving around a lot. Some apartments don’t allow pets. Some only allow pets under a certain weight with a large deposit, which many young people can’t 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. No matter how cute they are, dogs are not toys! A dog can live for 10 years or more and will need daily care long after the children tire of playing with her. If the parents aren’t in love with the pet, I don’t adopt to them. If the parent insists they want a pet "for the children," remind them that dogs are expensive, needing annual vet care and monthly heartworm preventative and flea treatment. Puppies will chew things up and poop in the house. Dogs are simply not objects to buy on whim!

    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 be committed 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 won’t 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. Ask open-ended questions. Find out in detail what happened to their pets in the past. If someone says, ‘Well, one dog got run over, and another one ran away, and another one got shot,” 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.

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 in 5 years, then you know that the people are not the right home for your dog. 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 that you can check out their fence, introduce the dog to other pets and kids, and see for yourself if you like the home. If someone does not want you to come to their house for a visit, that is probably a bad sign. 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 is 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 adopter, just tell them that their home isn't the right fit for your dog. 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.

Download an Application & Contract

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. 

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