Wednesday, June 19, 2024


Free to a Good Home

September 26, 2011 by  
Filed under Dog Health and Nutrition

Sad but true:  at some point, but by the grace of God, you may have to relinquish your beloved dog to another home.  Whether you lose your job, move to a no-pets-allowed home, or become so ill you can no longer take care of him or her, one of the things you will have to consider is where you will place your dog.  How will you make sure your dog isn’t getting a raw deal?

Avoiding labs and fighting rings 

Assuming you don’t have a family member or friend who can take your dog, you will probably advertise for someone to adopt him or her.  One of the dangers of advertising is that less-than-ideal people may respond.  In many cases, they may be people who look for “free to a good home” ads to gather dogs for research facilities and / or fighting rings.

The best way to avoid these people is to charge a reasonable fee for your dog.  Nothing exorbitant that will price you out of the market, but at least enough to keep the undesirables away.   If you are not comfortable profiting from getting rid of your dog, donate the money to a local shelter or rescue organization to help homeless dogs.

Next, you will want to ask lots of questions of any potential buyers, just as most reputable breeders do.  You are, after all, selling a member of your family, so you want to make sure the animal will be happy in his or her new home.

Questions to ask prospective buyers 

According to Columbus Dog Connection, some good starter questions include asking if the family has ever had a dog before and how that went, if they have a fenced yard, and if they have thought about the expenses they will be incurring by owning a dog.  You might also ask where the dog will sleep and where the dog will be kept when the family is not home.

The point of these questions is to make sure the potential buyer has thought through the decision and is not reacting impulsively, swayed by your dog’s good looks and charm.

You will also want to get enough information from the prospective buyer to allow you to do some background checking.  Get the name and phone number of the vet they have used for previous pets or the vet they intend to use.  If they are renting their home, get the name and number of the landlord.

When you call the vet, ask if the family has taken proper care of any previous pets, including vaccinations and spay / neuter.  The landlord can confirm that pets are allowed in the rental, and whether or not the yard is fenced.

Questions to assure a good match

Another part of the screening process is to make sure your dog and the new family will be a good fit.  According to Houndwalkers you will want to ask the prospective buyer questions about their expectations.  For example, you might ask about the activity level they are expecting, what they know about the specific breed you have, how many kids are in the home and their ages, how many other pets are in the home, and what they intend to use the dog for (show, sports, therapy, companionship, etc).

Just the facts, ma’am

Be sure you are honest with prospective buyers about your dog’s foibles, habits, and needs.  For example, if your dog howls until you let him into your bed and under your covers, you will want to be sure they are aware of this ahead of time.  If your dog has special medical needs, you might want to offer to buy a month’s worth of medications for them, but explain what the additional costs will be for the lifetime of the dog.

If it takes a long time to find a prospective home, you might be tempted to be less than honest about the fact that your dog has ruined every carpet in your home with diarrhea because he likes to eat the cat’s food, you are setting both the dog and the new family up for failure.  The danger, or course, is that they will be far less patient with the dog, and your beloved pet will end up in a shelter or dumped along a country road.

Should you use a contract? 

It is possible to design a contract for the prospective buyer to sign before relinquishing the dog to a new home.  Although you cannot dictate what the person will do or not do with their own property (as the courts will consider the dog), you can sue them for breach of contract if you have a properly worded and signed agreement.  A contract should include your expectations for the care of the dog, what you will provide including a thorough description of the dog and any toys, food, or medications you will be giving the new family, and what will happen if the stated conditions are broken by either side.

One of the things you might want to include in the contract is that you will have the right of first refusal if the new family decides to give up the dog at any point in the future.  Your situation may have changed by then, and you might be able to take the dog back.  Alternatively, you might want to specify that the dog cannot be dumped, euthanized for any reason other than serious illness, or dropped off at a shelter that allows euthanasia of pets who are not ill.

A good sample contract can be found in the articles section of Devine Farm Breeders. Although this one is written specifically for Mastiff puppies, you can adapt it for your own use.  You may want to have a lawyer look at the contract when you have it drafted, to make sure it is enforceable.

With any luck at all, you will never find yourself in the situation of having to give up your dog, but if you do, following these simple tips may help you find the perfect home for your favorite furry family member.

One last thing

Before you give up your dog, make sure you have him neutered or her spayed.  The last thing you want to do is to add to the pet overpopulation problem by allowing your dog to breed if the new family isn’t as conscientious as you are about preventing pregnancy.

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