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Content Preview
How to Find Homes
for Homeless Pets

Best Friends Animal Society is working with you – and with humane
groups all across the country – to bring about a time when there are no
more homeless pets.
The sanctuary at Angel Canyon, in the Golden Circle of southern Utah, is
home, on any given day, to about 2,000 dogs, cats, and other animals from
all over the country. Many of them need just a few weeks of special care
before they’re ready to go to good new homes. Others, who are older and
sicker, or who have suffered extra trauma, find a home and a haven here,
and are given loving care for the rest of their lives.
In our home state, Best Friends manages a model No More Homeless Pets
campaign with shelters and humane groups, with the aim of reaching a
time when every healthy dog and cat that’s ever born in Utah is guaran-
teed a caring home.
And Best Friends reaches across the nation, helping humane groups, indi-
vidual people, and entire communities to set up spay/neuter, shelter, fos-
ter, and adoption programs in their own neighborhoods, cities, and states.
The work of Best Friends is supported entirely through the donations of
our members. Through the generous hearts and hands of people like you,
we’re getting close to the day when there will be No More Homeless Pets.
Thank you for being part of this work of love.
Best Friends Animal Society
Kanab, UT 84741
Phone: (435) 644-2001
E-mail: info@bestfriends.org
Website: www.bestfriends.org

How to Find Homes for Homeless Pets

Introduction
Has something happened in your life and you can
no longer take care of your pet? Or perhaps you
have found a stray cat or dog and need to find
him/her a home. Maybe a friend or relative has
died, leaving one or more pets to be placed in a
new home. You want to be able to do something
to help find a new and loving permanent home,
rather than turning the pet over to the local shelter
or humane society, where the animal may be put
down.
We hope the suggestions in this booklet will help
to do if you’ve found a stray. (If you locate the
pet’s owner, you may not even need to find a new
home!)
If you do need to find a new home for the pet,
What to do when you’ve found a stray ...............4
we’ll show you how to get the word out. We’ll
How to get the word out ......................................5
talk about how to create an effective flyer, how
to take a good photograph of the pet, and how to
How to prepare the pet for adoption ...................7
write imaginative text (to capture the attention of
How to screen potential adopters ........................8
a prospective adopter) for a flyer or a classified
ad in the newspaper. And we will show you how
We then discuss the preparation of the pet: making
Some final words ...............................................12
sure that the animal’s vaccinations are up-to-date
Sample forms ....................................................13
and that he/she is healthy, bathed and groomed.
We also walk you through the very important
screening process. (We assume you don’t want to
Something to consider…
just give the pet away without making sure that
If you, or someone you know, is consider-
he/she is going to a good, responsible home.) We
ing giving up a pet because of a behavior
suggest questions to ask to find out if the prospec-
problem or other issue that you’d like to
tive adopter will provide a suitable home.
We provide information on how to finalize the
trained Best Friends Network coordinator
adoption. At the end of the booklet, you’ll find ex-
may be able to offer advice or assistance
amples of an adoption contract, a medical record,
that will enable you to work things out so
that you can keep your pet. You can talk
to a Network coordinator by calling (435)
Finally, we offer some words of encouragement in
your quest to find a good new home.
644-2001, ext. 123, or sending an e-mail to
bfnetwork@bestfriends.org.
Best Friends Animal Society
www.bestfriends.org

How to Find Homes for Homeless Pets

What to Do When You’ve
Found a Stray

1. Check for a tag or microchip.
If you’ve found a stray, do the obvious first –
check for a tag! If there is a tag, and the owner’s
name is on it, call and arrange for a pickup, and
know you have done your good deed for the day.
If the tag gives the name of a veterinarian’s clinic,
call during business hours and get the name and
phone number of the owner using the code num-
ber on the tag. Then follow up to return the dog or
cat. If the animal has no tag, there may still be a
way to identify the stray if he/she has been micro-
If there’s no tag or microchip, put a temporary tag
have lost his identification; he might have been lost
on the animal with your name and phone number.
for a long time; he may even be a rescued animal
You can use a luggage label or even tape the infor-
mation around the collar with some duct tape.
who was scared when he was adopted.
If you must take the animal to the shelter, and
2. Notify your local shelter that you
you wish to do everything you can for the animal,
have found a stray animal.
be sure to claim last rights. Claiming last rights
gives you adoption privileges if the animal is not
There are different laws in each city regarding
claimed within a given time period and is due to
stray animals. In some communities, finders of
be put down. It is a good idea to call the shelter
lost animals are legally required to either surren-
daily to let the staff know that you are interested
der the animal to the animal shelter or to report to
in the animal’s welfare.
the shelter that they have a stray animal. Check
with your local animal control or animal services
. Make every effort to find the owner.
obligations are.
Besides notifying your local shelter, you’ll want to
check lost-and-found ads in the local newspapers.
Even if you’re not legally required to notify the
Try placing an ad in the lost-and-found section
shelter, you’ll still want to let them know that you
yourself. Another good strategy is to post flyers in
have a stray. If the owners of the animal are look-
the vicinity where the animal was found.
ing for their pet, they will most likely start by call-
ing the shelter, so it’s very important that the shel-
A typical ad describes the type of animal, the lo-
ter knows that you have found the pet. Also, some
cation where he/she was found, and the coloring
shelters have bulletin boards on which people can
and other distinct characteristics of the animal.
list lost and found pets, so it’s a good idea to post
a photo of the pet at the shelter.
You want to leave out some crucial characteristic,
though, so that when someone calls claiming to
If you have some hesitation about trying to find the
be the owner, you can verify that the animal really
owner, keep in mind that just because an animal is
belongs to him/her. This helps guard against turn-
injured, scared, or without identification does not
ing strays over to bunchers (see page 6 for an
Best Friends Animal Society
www.bestfriends.org

How to Find Homes for Homeless Pets

explanation of what bunchers are). For example,
you could leave out the gender of the animal, or
Tips on Taking Good Animal
the fact that she has white socks on her front feet
Photographs
or a really bushy tail. Don’t forget to give your
phone number and times you can be reached.
Since photos really help people make a con-
nection to an animal, you’ll want to use a
. Be wary of dishonest callers.
good-quality photograph. Color is best. (If
you don’t have a color printer, copy places
like Kinko’s can print the flyers for you.)
person gives you a detailed description of the ani-
mal. To ensure that you have found the animal’s
When you
real owner, here are a few additional tips:
take the pho-
tographs, use
• Ask the caller to bring a photo of the animal to
a background
the meeting place.
that is in con-
• Ask for their veterinarian’s phone number, and
trast to the ani-
make a follow-up call.
mal, to high-
light his/her
• Watch how the animal reacts to the caller in
best features.
person. If you are not satisfied, ask for more
Keep the pho-
proof of ownership.
to simple and
clear, with few
• Remember to get the owner’s phone number
background
distractions,
• Ask them to bring their photo ID.
though you
might want to use a person, a hand or some
other means to show the scale of the pet.
How to Get the Word Out
Before
If you do need to find a new home for a pet, you’ll
snapping
want to advertise as widely as you can, in as many
the photos,
places as possible. Creating a flyer is a great way
take the
to start. Here’s what to put on the flyer:
time to get
• Describe the appearance, size, and age of
the pet as
the animal.
calm and
relaxed as
• Include the pet’s name and a good photograph
possible, so
of the pet (see the sidebar at right).
the photos
don’t show
• If the pet is spayed or neutered, include that
an animal
information.
who looks
• Describe his/her nature and appealing qualities.
anxious
or scared.
• Define any limitations the pet might have
Ideally, the
(e.g., not good with cats or small children).
photo you choose for the flyer should have the
eyes of the animal in focus.
• Don’t forget your phone number and the times
you can be reached.
Best Friends Animal Society
www.bestfriends.org

How to Find Homes for Homeless Pets

Depending on the situation in your area, you
groups or clubs that have lists of people looking
to adopt that particular breed. Some breed rescue
Bunchers are people who pose as prospective
groups might even be willing to place a mix, as
adopters, pretending to be loving and concerned.
long as the animal is close to purebred. To locate a
The pets they obtain are then sold to dealers
purebred rescue group near you, send an e-mail to
who in turn sell the pets to research laboratories.
us at bfnetwork@bestfriends.org.
When you write the ad, be creative! (See the
When you’ve made copies of the flyer, post them
sample ads on the next page.) Try to make the ani-
throughout your community, wherever a good pro-
mal as appealing as possible, but tell the truth. If
you’re trying to place a dog who absolutely can’t
up at veterinarians’ offices, pet supply stores, and
be around cats, put that in the ad. Run the ad as
the workplaces of your family and friends. Places
many times as you can afford – you are looking to
like health food stores, supermarkets, libraries,
reach a wide audience.
churches, and health clubs often have community
bulletin boards where anyone can post flyers.
It’s a good idea to mention in the ad that an
adoption fee will be required. The bunchers we
But don’t stop with posting flyers. There are many
mentioned earlier gravitate toward ads that offer
other ways to spread the word:
pets “Free to a good home.” Asking for a fee will
discourage these people from following up on
1. Contact as many shelters and rescue groups
as possible. Most agencies will be overloaded, but
you can always donate the money to your favorite
they might allow you to bring your pet to one of
charity.
their adoption days. They might be able to put you
in contact with someone who is looking for the
kind of pet you are trying to place, or they could
are general adoption websites, as well as spe-
have some other suggestions. You can find local
cific sites for certain types of animals (for ex-
shelters and rescues by calling 1-888-PETS-911
ample, FIV-positive cats, disabled pets, or senior
or visiting www.pets911.com.
dogs). Petfinder (www.petfinder.org) is a good
example of a general adoption website. The
2. Contact breed rescue groups if you’re try-
Best Friends Network can give you the web ad-
ing to place a specific breed. If you have a pug
dresses of other adoption sites. Send an e-mail to
or a Persian cat, for example, there may be rescue
bfnetwork@bestfriends.org.
5. Use any and all of your community contacts.
Ask friends and family to mention the animal in
their church or community newsletter; send an
system; or share some flyers with members of
clubs or associations to which you belong.
6. Don’t underestimate word of mouth! Tell
anyone and everyone about the pet who needs
a home, and ask friends and family to help with
spreading the word. You never know – your
father’s neighbor’s daughter could be looking for
just the pet you have to offer.
Best Friends Animal Society
www.bestfriends.org

How to Find Homes for Homeless Pets

7. Get the pet out there. (This works especially
How to Prepare the Pet
well with dogs.) The more your pet interacts with
people, the more likely he/she will charm the
right person. If you’re trying to place a dog, take
First and foremost,
him/her on walks, to pet supply stores, to the local
spay or neuter the
park. Put a colorful bandana on the dog that says,
pet or the stray
you are trying to
place. Without
this procedure,
no reputable hu-
mane rescue group
Betty Lou has a new pair of shoes and she
overpopulation is
a two-year-old spayed female terrier mix. She
an overwhelming
loves to dance, prance and play. She is a doll!
problem and we
She is good with cats as well. Call Kelly or
all need to do what
Doug at 555-3576 after 7 p.m. weekdays or all
we can to prevent
more unwanted
. . . .
animals from being
born. If you want
Joe Cocker is coming to town and wants to
information on low-cost clinics in your area, call
sing for you. Joe is a three-year-old neutered
SPAY/USA at 1-800-248-SPAY. You can also visit
male cockapoo with a great personality. Loves
their website, www.spayusa.org, or the PETS 911
kids and dogs, but isn’t as keen on cats! He
website, www.pets911.com.
has had all his shots. Call Morris after 6 p.m.
Next, make sure the animal is up-to-date on vac-
. . . .
cinations. Prepare a complete medical record that
Persian cat with attitude. Martha thinks she
you can give to the adopter. (There’s a sample
rules the world! She is gorgeous, and knows
on page 14.) If you’re trying to find a home for a
it. She loves to sit on laps and be petted. She
stray, you’ll need to bring the animal to a vet for
would prefer a home where she is the only cat.
a thorough checkup. Low-cost assistance may be
Adoption fee required. See her at the Petco on
available through local humane groups.
Broadway, Saturday, June 10, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
You should also prepare a general history of the
pet. Include as much information as possible
. . . .
about the pet’s likes and dislikes, current food
SHAMBU is the kind of companion that
preferences and favorite treats, relationship to
we all long to have. Loyal, playful, tender
other animals, and preferred types of toys. All this
and kind best describes this beautiful orange
information will help the adopter get acquainted
tabby. He is 3 years old, neutered, and has had
with the pet and make the transition easier on the
all his shots. He prefers an adults-only home.
animal.
Call Jeremy at 555-2189 before 11 a.m. any
day. Donation for my favorite animal charity
To show the pet’s best side, groom and bathe him
required. No bunchers.
or her before taking your flyer photos and before
showing the pet to a prospective adopter. If it is
position. The help of an experienced and caring
Best Friends Animal Society
www.bestfriends.org

How to Find Homes for Homeless Pets

Interviewing the
destructive behavior, making it easier to place the
pet in a new home.
The following is a list of questions to ask the pro-
How to Screen
spective adopter. You might want to take notes
as you talk to the person. (There’s an adoption
screener’s worksheet on page 15 that you might
find useful.) From the answers to these questions,
you’ll want to interview them over the phone be-
you can start to build a profile of the person. Try
fore introducing them to the animal. By doing so,
to ask the questions in a conversational style, so it
you can eliminate unsuitable potential adopters
doesn’t sound like you’re conducting an interview.
early on. The following are some guidelines for
To start, you might say: “This dog/cat is very spe-
helping you find the best possible new home for
cial to me, and I am looking for just the right home
for him/her. Would you mind if I asked you a few
First, if the caller is a child or a teenager, ask to
speak to an adult. If the caller sounds young, but
“Is the pet for you or someone else?”
isn’t a child, ask for his or her age. In our experi-
ence, young people tend to move around a lot –
If the dog or cat is for someone else, then tell
going to college, entering the military, looking for
the caller that you need to speak directly to the
work – which means that they change their living
situations often. You are looking for a permanent
another person can be a terrible mistake. If the pet
new home, so a young person may not be the best
is for a child, tell the person that the dog or cat
bet for your pet. However, there are always excep-
needs to be seen as a family pet, not exclusively
tions to any rule. If you feel the caller can offer
the child’s pet. The parents must be willing to take
a lasting home despite his/her age, then take it to
on the responsibility for the day-to-day care of the
the next stage and conduct the interview.
animal for the rest of his/her life. Children can be
involved in the animal’s care, but their attention
span is often sporadic. Many pets are turned in to
shelters because the children have lost interest.
“Do you have other pets at home?
Would you tell me about them?”
the pet you are placing will fit into this household.
For example, if you are trying to place a dog who
hates cats, and they have cats, this is obviously not
a good choice.
If they don’t have pets now, ask these questions:
“Have you had pets before? If so, what
happened to them?”
Responses to these questions can reveal a lot
about the person’s level of responsibility. One
Best Friends Animal Society
www.bestfriends.org

How to Find Homes for Homeless Pets

negative incident in the past shouldn’t immedi-
ately rule that person out; accidents can happen to
even the most caring people. But, if they tell you
that their last three dogs came to an untimely end
because they were run over, poisoned, stolen, etc.,
you are not looking at a responsible home. On
the other hand, if they tell you of the many pets
they had until a ripe old age, it’s a sign that these
people are willing to make the commitment to a
pet for life.
“Do you have children? If so, how old
are they?”
Children can be either a blessing or a curse to a
pet! Many of the dogs and cats that we take here
at the sanctuary have been involved in negative
incidents with children. Small children often do
not know how to differentiate between a live ani-
mal and a stuffed one. And even the most vigilant
parent can’t be watching the child all the time. We
often advise against puppies or kittens for families
with children under six. We have had experience
with small children being hurt by puppies or kit-
of tremendous value in producing a compassion-
tens, because they treated them roughly or didn’t
ate, caring person who will bring those qualities
know when to leave them alone. And then the
into his/her whole life. So the decision to take on
animal, however reluctantly, is taken to the shelter.
a family pet needs to be made with great care. We
This will be your own judgment call with the pet
have a number of resources in the pet-care sec-
you are placing.
tion of our website that can educate people about
what’s involved in having a pet: http://www.best
Of course, if the animal you are placing has had
friends.org/theanimals/petcare/.
any kind of biting or nipping incident around chil-
dren, it would be irresponsible to place that ani-
mal in a home with children. Even if the prospec-
“Do you live in a house, a mobile
tive adopters have no young children, they need to
home, or an apartment?”
be aware of the history of the animal, since adults-
It’s not necessarily a negative thing if they live in
only homes may receive visits from grandchildren
an apartment. Many dogs and all cats do very well
or neighbor kids.
in apartments. The proximity encourages close
On the other hand, an adult cat or dog who is used
companionship and bonding.
to being around small children can make a won-
derful family pet. A larger animal is less vulner-
“If you rent, does your lease allow pets?
able to being hurt by children, and an adult animal
May I have your landlord’s number?”
is usually more tolerant of a toddler’s inquiring
If the people are renting, you will need to ensure
hands pulling at his/her tail or ears.
that they have permission in writing to have a pet.
The child/animal bond is very special and can be
You will also need to determine if there are any
Best Friends Animal Society
www.bestfriends.org

How to Find Homes for Homeless Pets
10
size restrictions (especially for dogs, since some
walking and doggie daycare services in most cit-
landlords restrict the size of dogs.) It’s not fair to
ies. Perhaps a neighbor or a local retired person
the pet you are placing to put him/her in a situa-
could spend some time with the animal. Locking a
tion where he/she is at risk. We have known peo-
dog outside all day can present a target for thieves,
ple who try to sneak a pet by the landlord, only to
particularly in a big city. An ideal situation is to
be found out. And guess who has to go!
have a companion animal as a buddy and a dog-
gie door into a dog-proofed area of the house with
“Can I come to your home, to see
lots of toys to chew on.
where the animal will be living?”
Cats do not appear to need the pack in the same
If they are unwilling to let you visit, you should
way as dogs, but anyone who has had more than
cross them off your list. If they are willing, we
one cat knows what a difference companionship
strongly recommend that you do make the visit,
of their own kind makes to a cat.
for your own peace of mind. Seeing the other pets
(if any) in the household will tell you a lot about
If you’re trying to find a home for
a dog:
Also, you might notice something that needs to be
taken care of before the adoption takes place. For
“Does your home have a yard and is it
example, let’s say you are placing a dog who is an
completely fenced?”
escape artist and the person’s fence has large holes
You’ll want to make sure that the yard is com-
in it. Some discussion about repairs could solve
pletely fenced, with no gaps, so the dog can’t
the problem, but make sure the repairs are done
escape. If the prospective adopters do not have a
before the animal goes to live there. Promises are
fenced yard, ask if the dog will be chained up out-
just that – promises – until the job is done.
side. This is a cruel fate for any dog, and we are
sure you would not want yours to end up this way.
“How many hours would the animal be
Don’t automatically write off prospective adopters
alone during the day?”
if they don’t have a fenced yard, however. Many
people who don’t have fenced yards (such as
The number of hours that an animal will be alone
apartment dwellers) are that much more conscien-
during the day needs to be taken into account.
tious about taking their dogs for walks. And some
Young dogs and cats can get very lonely and
dogs who have a nice fenced yard are outdoor
bored – and consequently very destructive – if
dogs, left to fend for themselves most of the time.
they’re alone a lot. Many adoptions do not work
out because prospective adopters were unaware of
their pet’s social needs.
“Will the dog get regular exercise?”
Dogs have an especially hard time being alone for
Dogs need to get off their home turf at least once
long periods of time. They are pack animals, so
a day, to sniff and explore and get some exercise.
they need companionship from either the family
If the animal you’re trying to place is a young,
or another pet. A lonely, bored dog or puppy can
energetic dog, you might want to find out if the
chew through the couch, rip up the carpet, destroy
the table legs – just for something to do!
exercise the dog needs. Letting the dog out in the
yard a few times a day is often not enough.
Prospective adopters should be encouraged to
make provisions for a young dog if the family is
away every day for long hours. There are dog-
Best Friends Animal Society
www.bestfriends.org

How to Find Homes for Homeless Pets

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