TIPS FOR SCREENING PROSPECTIVE ADOPTER
Tips for Screening a Potential New Home
For Your Pet
As desperate as you may be to find your pet a new home-it is strongly recommended that you thoroughly screen any interested party. Do not agree to give your pet to someone until you have properly screened them and visited their home.
Go with your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, do not adopt your animal to the person in question. And remember, even honest and well-intentioned people may not be a good match or have the right home for your pet.
If an adopter is truly interested, they should be asking you about your pet’s health, behavior, likes/dislikes, and why you are giving up your pet.
It is also your job to ask questions. Once you start hearing from people, be prepared to screen potential adopters over the phone. Ask them questions to understand why they are interested in your animal, what kind of prior experience they have had with companion animals, and what sort of environment the pet will be in. Some specific examples will follow under “Interview Questions” and many reputable rescue groups post their adoption applications online which you can use as a reference. How potential adopters answer these questions can tell you a lot about the person’s understanding of how to be a good pet guardian.
Once you are ready to move on to the next step with a potential adopter, set up a time to meet in person. Because animals are often uncomfortable when out of their normal surroundings, you may start with initial introductions by having the person come to you.
If you live alone, make sure you have another friend there for your safety or consider a public place. Maybe your cat’s veterinarian would allow you to reserve a room for 20 minutes. If they have a pet you may want to arrange the meeting with their pet present and it is best they meet on neutral territory (not your house or theirs).
The meet and greet can also serve as a Home Visit to the potential adopter’s home. Never let a person adopt your dog that won’t allow you to view the home it will be living in. That is an absolute red flag. On a home visit, be sure to screen the home carefully and consider every element, such as if the owner has children or a cat, a securely fenced yard etc.
Although you know your pet’s disposition, quirks and needs, here are some recommended Interview Questions for Potential Adopters:
If they have any previous pets, ask about them. What happened to them? The best answer is “Yes; It died at age 17.” What you really don’t want to hear is that their last pet was hit by a car, died of a preventable disease, ran away, or was turned in to a shelter.
Do they have a pet now? Already having a pet is good. It demonstrates that they already know what is involved in having one. May want to ask how long they have had this pet and prior pets.
If you have another dog/cat, is it altered? Your rehomed pet should not be used for breeding or to add to the population. Also are their pets vaccinated?
Do you own your home or rent? If they rent, what are the requirements in the lease about pets (number of pets or weight/breed limits) Do you have a fenced yard?
Will you provide references? ***If they have pets, or recently had pets ask if it will be OK to get a reference from their vet. The vet can at least verify their pet receives routine preventative healthcare.*** (It is not unreasonable to ask for references from a job, friends, and for identification like a drivers license that you can use for your records. Rescue groups do this on their applications and contracts.)
Will the pet be a member of your family or a gift for someone else? Are you willing to allow a home check?
How will you handle unwanted behaviors? If the pet has an accident in the house, what type of correction do you plan to use?
How many hours per day will the pet be alone?
Who else lives in the house? If there are other adults, do they all agree with getting a pet? Will they all be available to meet? If there are children, how old are they? Have they ever been around pets? Children should not be expected to be responsible for the pet.
Will the pet be going outside at all? Cats that go outside have a significantly reduced expected life-span, get hit by cars, poisoned intentionally, poisoned unintentionally, get lost, can contract illness etc. You want to hear that this will be an indoor cat (unless you are relocating a feral/wild). Outdoor/indoor is okay for dogs, but remember, dogs are pack animals and want to be where you are. Leaving a dog outside when the rest of his family is inside is a lonely experience for a dog.
Will you be declawing the cat? Do you realize that cats can live for more than 20 years?
Do you realize that dogs can live for more than 15 years and cats for 20?
If you’re satisfied with their answers you may suggest a Trial period -so that the potential adopter can spend some real time getting to know your pet and you can visit to see how she is doing. During this time, either side can cancel the arrangement. If you feel certain about the new home, consider creating a contract with them that requires them to contact you if they ever have to re-home your pet themselves in the future. Many rescue organizations post their adoption contracts online. Use theirs as a template for your own.
Both parties should have their contact as well as an emergency contact on the contract, sign it and retain copies.
“Free to good home” pets can attract people who will sell animals to research facilities or another horrible end. To eliminate the largest risks associated with rehoming a pet do not give your pet away for free. Charge a small rehoming fee, somewhere around $25-$75. Please consider and let them know that you will give the fee to a non-profit organization that helps animals.
Lastly, make sure you provide the new guardian with any of your animal’s medical records, microchip records and favorite toys and special food or treats. Be prepared to follow up and stay in touch, but allow time and patience to let your pet bond with it’s new guardians.