Devoted pet owners plan to keep their pet for its entire life. However, circumstances beyond their control may necessitate finding their pet a new home. This should be a last resort, as there are remedies for most excuses that people give when they no longer wish to care for their dog or cat.
The first one is the allergies and right behind that one is the “I have to move and can’t take my pet with me” excuse. Well, there are landlord and apartments that do allow one or two pets, (go to www.rent.com). Moving far away? Well, it is possible to move across country and take your pets with you (I have done it three times in my life, including a move to Puerto Rico with five cats and three dogs).
You need to make provisions in your will for care of your animal companions upon your death because I see a lot of young people immediately trying to dispose of their parent’s fourteen year old dog or cat after a relative has died. Of course getting a pet in the first place should be well thought out and planned based on ones lifestyle, finances, living situation and other facts. Planning ahead is crucial, a pet should never be an impulse!
But despite all the different ways to find in order to keep your pet, sometimes there are valid reasons to rehome your pet. When that is the case, it is not the responsibility of a rescue group to take your dog or cat. You see the key word is rescue – we should not have to rescue a pet who has a home and an owner.
In this day and age the groups can hardly find homes for the true rescues and so it really does need to fall on the individual person to place their own pet if the only answer is to place your own animal. So, if it becomes absolutely necessary to rehome a pet, please do it properly. FREE to a good home is always a bad idea.
There are USDA Licensed Class B Dealers looking for free or almost free cats and dogs to sell for medical research. There are those with fighting dogs wanting to use your dog or cat as “bait” animals. There are people sincerely wanting your dog, cat, reptile, bunny, small and furry pet, or bird but have not done their homework on what is involved in owning such an animal, and will not actually be a good, long term home for your pet.
And sad to say, in this world, there are evil people who get free pets to torture and kill. It is scary to decide to place your beloved animal into a new and perhaps frightening situation.
There are wonderful internet sites such as Craigs List and Petfinder to post adoptable pets, as well as posting flyers and placing newspaper ads. Flyers should have photos on them, and posted at vet offices, groomers, pet stores, libraries and post offices.
However, any advertisements should say “veterinarian references required please”, and you should screen people carefully. Ask them about their family members, do they own or rent, are they settled, or young and going to school, are they extremely elderly yet want a kitten or puppy, what provisions can they make if they cannot care for the pet, do they have a fenced yard, will the pet be inside the home safe from predators and vehicles.
Most rescue groups would be glad to give you tips on how to screen people. No reasonable person will resent your questions unless they have something to hide!
Of course, any dog or cat older than five months should be altered and have all appropriate shots. Adopting out an unaltered animal means that it may be used by backyard breeders, and some people will sell anything, including mixed breed kittens and puppies for extra money.
Often these animals never see a vet and are not healthy. Unaltered cats and dogs just add to the over-population! Older pets especially need recent vet checkups including blood panel to look for underlying medical conditions. And truly elderly animals that have been in only one home their entire life should never be rehomed. I have seen these noble older pets shaking in the back corner of their cage, not understanding what they have done to be abandoned by their humans.
Helping Paws no longer takes senior animals as we watched a lovely old cat stop eating and literally die of a broken heart when her family decided they no longer wanted her. Also it is important to note that potential adopters usually want only young animals, and there are many young animals dying every day because we do not have enough homes for all of them.
If you think you can rehome an older pet then try to find a family member of friend that the animal already knows and trusts – a home must be chosen with extra care as the senior cat or dog requires special love and attention when settling in.
My advice to people who no longer want animals that are in the winter of their lives, is to humanely euthanize them. It does not matter how guilty you will feel – what matters is the animal and saving that animal from the fear it will know when it is abandonedIt is actually kinder to take the animal to a vet and keep your arms around your pet, all the while telling him or her what a great pet they have been, while the vet humanely euthanizes. It is the final act of kindness that you can do.
Three out of four people who call me do not want to know how to keep their pets. For whatever reason, they have decided they no longer have the time or the desire to care for their cat or dog.
That fourth person who really cannot keep their pet (such as a person who is going into a woman’s shelter to escape from domestic violence) is the person who will actually do all the things suggested in this column. Please consider all options before you place your companion.
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