By Michelle Lidh Bringing a pet into your life is a major decision and a long term commitment that should be considered carefully. Keep this in mind when you are thinking about getting a pet and realize that you are ultimately responsible for what happens to that animal once you welcome it into your home.
However, sometimes life changes your plans. What should you do when you experience an unexpected road block in pet ownership?
Alternative Solutions to Common Problems
1. Relocation and Deployment – These are big ones for military members. When you have to move, plan ahead to the best of your ability to find pet friendly options. Travel costs and possible quarantine procedures are factors to take into consideration. If you need extra time, try to find someone to foster your pet before deciding to give it up for good. For deployed military, foster care is provided by the Hawaiian Humane Society’s Pets for Patriots as well as national services like Dogs on Deployment and Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet.
2. Pet Expenses – If you find yourself paying more for pet-related items than you find reasonable, evaluate your budget and track your spending. Eliminate any extra and unnecessary costs. A really great idea to save you money is to purchase food in bulk. Also, an internet search will yield several easy to craft homemade toys for both dogs and cats.
3. Allergies – Visit a doctor to ensure that the animal is the cause of the problem and consider medication to treat the symptoms if possible. Often, pet hair and dander are the cause of the allergies, so using allergen reducing cleaning products and shampoos, bathing and grooming the animal regularly, and keeping the house clear of these agents as much as possible can reduce reactions. Installing an air filtration system can also be beneficial.
4. Behavior Problems – Animals need time to adjust to their new home and guidance from you on what is appropriate behavior. Obedience classes are always a good idea. Make sure that you are consistent with both training as well as the proper amount of stimulating exercise. If the problem seems to go deeper than this, consult a pet behaviorist or a veterinarian. Some issues can stem from medical conditions.
Where to Rehome Your Pet
1. Family, Friends, or Neighbors – The primary advantage of placing your pet with this group is it includes people that you already know and trust. You will know without a doubt that the animal is well taken care of. You may be able to visit your former pet or get status updates. Networking is a secondary advantage – if this initial group cannot take your pet, ask them to advertise for you.
2. Local Pet Care Industry – This is another networking opportunity and includes your veterinarian, groomer, pet store staff, boarding or daycare staff, etc. These places care about the welfare of animals and may already be familiar with your pet. They may be able to help you rehome your pet and may be willing to post signs for you where responsible pet owners will see them on a daily basis.
3. Rescue Group – These groups may be specific to a breed or a group of animals. They are dedicated to pet adoption. They may have selective admissions depending on their available resources at the time, but usually find their animals a foster home until a permanent home is found.
4. Shelter – Do your research beforehand on shelter policies and procedures so you are aware of your pet’s future. Many shelters require a small admission fee to offset the costs of caring for the animal. Please keep in mind the number of unwanted animals in the community who have no other option because they do not have someone like you supporting them. Many shelters are overcrowded, so whatever you can do to find an alternative route helps relieve the stress off of these facilities.
Steps to Take
- Take your pet to your veterinarian for a health check up. Be sure that they are up to date on all vaccinations and get your pet spayed or neutered prior to finding a new home.
- Be honest with potential buyers. You want them to know as much information as possible about your pet – the good and the bad – so that they are fully prepared to meet its needs.
- Provide a nice picture of your pet. First impressions are important, and having a good photo will help the animal be adopted more quickly.
- Please DO NOT advertise your pet for free to someone outside of your personal social circle. Free postings on the Internet or in the community can attract the wrong kind of pet owner – especially irresponsible breeders and scammers who end up selling the animal to a dealer or a dogfighter.
- If you do find a prospective owner via the Internet or community advertisements, never agree to anything without meeting in person first. If possible, visit their home so that you can personally see the living conditions your pet will be in. Get to know the potential buyer and ask them plenty of relevant questions.
Be Part of the Solution
Even responsible pet owners have to make heartbreaking decisions sometimes and choose to give up their pet. The next time you are considering a new addition to your home, please consider adoption over purchasing a puppy or kitten from a pet store. Watch for advertisements in the community, ask your local pet care industry if someone is rehoming their pet, and visit rescue groups and shelters in your area. These animals need your help to give them a loving forever home.
What has been your experience, personal or otherwise, with rehoming pets? What advice would you give someone who is considering finding their animal a new home?
Michelle Lidh is an enlisted weather forecaster for the United States Air Force. She lives on Oahu and volunteers with The Hawaiian Humane Society.