Advertising your pet for adoption
One of the best methods of advertising is to place an ad in the classified pet column of a major metropolitan newspaper, interview potential adopters on the phone, then meet with them, either at their home or yours. The more people you reach, the better chance you have of finding a good home. Advertising includes putting up flyers (with the animal’s photograph) in community centers, veterinarians’ offices, pet supply stores, popular dog spots, or anywhere else people in general congregate.
The following are some examples of ads that we hope will provide you with a clear idea of the points to emphasize in your own advertisements.
We have found that listing your breed or type animal at the beginning in CAPS catches the eye of someone who is looking for that specific breed or mix. Keep the information brief.
- If you know the animal is not good with children, or other animals, include that in your ad. If the dog is a hunting breed, (i.e., Chesapeake, Lab, Golden Retriever, Brittany Spaniel), include that it will not be adopted out as a hunting dog, if that is your desire.
- Beware of people pretending to be a “‘family” who front for dealers who sell to research labs or dog-fighting rings. It is well-known that the brutal, illegal dog-fighting contingent is looking for kittens, puppies and older, adult dogs on which fighting dogs will be trained to practice.
- Important!!! Please notice that none of the ad examples says “free to good home.” This is deliberate. Experience shows us that when people pay for something, they value it more. Dealers and bunchers usually do not pay for animals, but they do scour the classified for “free to a good home” opportunities. Careful, they can be crafty and charming. Trust your intuition; listen to yourself if you get a bad feeling about someone or encounter a situation you don’t trust. There’s probably a really good reason.
Ad Copy Examples: GERM SHEP, Adlt neu M; good w/ kids! Hndsm, cat-friendly, Owner leaving US $60 510-222-1234
AUST. SHEP, Grt companion. neu 10 mo. Energetic! Likes cats. Owner died. $75 408-123-1234 BORD COLLIE, 3 yr. neu M. Needs a job & lrg. area. Owner now disabled. $75 415-123-1234
AUST CATTLEDG, spyd F, 4 yr., not good w/ kids, cats, dogs or anythng sm. Loves adults & flyball. Must relocate $65 Call 415-666-6666
SCREENING PEOPLE WHO ANSWER YOUR AD The best homes for animals are responsible, stable ones. The kind of homes that are most likely to work out are where there’s a family (but see cautions around young children below) or with an older person who has the time to spend with a new companion animal. We do not adopt animals to people under 21 years old, and we look very carefully at people who are single, and whose job may necessitate travel to places where it would be difficult to take the animal. The same holds true with students and unrelated roommates whose lifestyles may preclude their making a long-term/lifetime commitment to the animal You want to be sure that you are dealing with a responsible person, and that they have sufficient funds to give proper care to their new companion animal.
THE TELEPHONE INTERVIEW
Through some well-chosen questions to people who answer your ad, you can decide whether the applicant meets some of the basic requirements and can be considered as a potential adopter. “
Dealing with young people If the caller is obviously a child, ask to speak to an adult. If the caller sounds young, but you’re not sure, feel free to ask their age. Teenagers and students do not tend to have stable lives or dwellings. If the teenager lives at home, then ask to speak to an adult. We do not release animals to the care of people who cannot provide a long term, permanent home. Young people tend to move around and it is usually the animal who suffers in these situations. For this reason, adopters should he over 21 years of age. Use this situation as a way of educating the person. Suggest as best you can without preaching that they not get an animal until they know what is happening in their lives, and until they can provide the animal with a permanent, secure home. Ask them to think of keeping animals as being very similar to having children to care for. Are they at a place in their lives where they could reasonably and responsibly care for children.
Things to Ask During a Telephone Interview:
Is this animal for you, or for someone else?
If animal is for another person, then tell the person with whom you’re speaking that you need to speak directly with the prospective owner. Gifts of animals to others can be a terrible mistake. If the animal is for a child, tell the person that the animal needs to be regarded as a “family” pet. Children do not have the attention span necessary to be responsible for an animal for the ten to fifteen years of its life.
Do you live in a house? An apartment? Does the house/apartment have a yard? Is the yard completely fenced? How high is it? Does it have a gate? Will the animal have indoor sleeping privileges?
From these answers, you can build a profile of the person. If they do not have a fenced yard, then the alternatives are chaining the dog (unacceptable) or letting it run loose (also unacceptable). While it’s ideal for prospective owners to live in houses with yards, that’s simply not how it is. Great placements can be made to folks who live in apartments as long as they are committed to walking the dog regularly. The same is true for home owners and house dwellers–just because a dog has a yard to hang out in is not an excuse not to walk the dog. Dogs need exercise and simulation. Yard dogs can become grossly under stimulated because the owners get lazy and feel that walking around a yard is adequate exercise. It’s not. In addition to exercise, dogs also need companionship and walks with Rover are a wonder vehicle for that companionship. Have you ever noticed that nothing make a dog happier than a walk with his or her person? And don’t forget, people need exercise too. A walk with the dog is a win-win situation.
Have you had a dog/cat before? If so, what happened to them?
Responses to the previous-ownership question can give you an idea of stability, income level, and responsibility. We have found that letting people talk quite a bit in this area elicits the information. if there is a pattern of neglect “Oh, my last 3 dogs were all run over…poisoned. . . stolen, etc.” This is not a good home. While one negative incident doesn’t necessarily rule them out, it does require closer examination. If, for example, the previous dog was hit by a car, what precautions has the person learned to take to ensure the safety of an animal in their care in the future? You will want to determine if the event was a tragic, reasonably unavoidable accident or due to improper supervision or neglect.
Do you have children? If so, what are their ages?
Children can be a blessing or a curse to an animal. Many cats and dogs have been badly treated by children. Some humane societies have issued guidelines that no puppies/kittens are to be adopted by families with children under 6 years. old. This rule is followed by many responsible organizations, even though some people have problems with it. Children under 6 have inadvertently killed baby animals by picking them up like a toy. There have been many incidents where small children have been nipped or scratched by a frustrated puppy or kitten who cannot escape an eager toddler who wants to play and has no concept of the care required in handling animals. Usually it is the animal who gets blamed, and both child and animal can be badly hurt. However, a nice adult dog or cat who is used to being around children and who is known to be gentle can be a wonderful family pet, even with very small children. In a good home, parents can supervise interactions between the animal and the children. Parents should be knowledgeable and aware of the various scenarios that can arise when trying to mix children with pets.
How many hours would the animal be alone during the day?
The number of hours that the animal will be alone needs to be taken into account. A young dog or cat can get very lonely–and destructive! Dogs particularly are pack animals and need companionship. Many adoptions have failed for this reason. A lonely, bored dog can chew the couch or dig up the yard.. People need to know that provisions need to be made for a young dog or cat while the family is away at work or school. Provide lots of chew toys and puppy/dog proof your home as much as possible.
The ideal situation would be that someone be home all the time, but since this is not always possible, a companion animal (a pet for your pet, so to speak), a dog door into an area that is dog-proofed, and toys to chew on and play with make an enormous difference. Locking a dog out all day in the yard can present an ideal target for thieves, particularly in a big city.
Do you own the home, or are you renting? Does your lease allow animals? Is it okay if I call your landlord? Are you willing to have someone visit your home to see where the animal will be living?
If a person is renting, you need to ensure that they have permission in writing from the landlord to have an animal. Make sure that the kind of animal they want to adopt meets any criteria or stipulations the landlord may have, i.e., a dog might be all right, but only 20 pounds or under. If they are unwilling to have someone visit their home, it is probably not a good one. If they are willing, then it is up to you to decide to visit or not. One of the hardest parts of doing an adoption is deciding if you are placing the animal in a good home. The repercussions of your decision will last for the animals’ lifetime. It is very important to listen to your instincts. You might find that someone has answered all the questions correctly, presented themselves very well in a personal interview, yet something doesn’t feel right. Go with the feeling! If you are not sure that they are right for the animal, you can simply say that other people are interested, or that you’re considering other possible homes (which you will indeed need to do), and that you will let them know. This can avoid unpleasant scenes and give you time to decide if the people and animal are right for each other. Remember that you are under no obligation to adopt an animal to anyone. Owning an animal is a privilege as well as a responsibility. You do not have to convince someone to take an animal; they have to convince you that they deserve one!
WATCH OUT FOR ANIMAL DEALERS (“BUNCHERS”)!!!A dealer is someone who acquires animals from people on the pretext of wanting a new pet, and then sells the animal for profit to a research laboratory or to individuals acquiring dogs and cats to he used as bait for fighting dogs. Dogs are often stolen for these purposes, so pet owners need to be cognizant of this regrettable fact and go the extra measure to ensure the safety of their pets by being careful not to leave the animal in the yard when no one is home, or tied up outside of stores for long periods of time.
If you live in or near a city where there are universities or research hospitals, be warned. Bunchers may try to obtain a dog or cat from you, and sell it to a lab or institution for medical research experiments. These people can be so good at fooling others that this has become a successful scam in many areas. If you read or hear about pitbull fights, you should know that family pets, acquired by dealers or stolen, are often used as bait for these dog fights. Asking for a reference from a vet can be a good precaution, although new residents to an area and first-time animal owners may not have a vet. Drawing people out, visiting their homes, and their references can also be a big help in exposing dealers.
It is important to charge for the animal! People value something more if they’ve paid for it! It’s simple fact of human nature. A range of $50 to $75 for dogs is suggested. A minimum of $35 for cats. If you have a purebred dog, you will no doubt set a higher price. Also, asking for payment for the animal can be used as a screening technique. You can always change your mind about charging for the animal once you’ve established that you feel okay about the prospective adopter. If someone is not willing to pay for the dog, they probably would not be willing or able to bear the out-of-pocket expenses that pet ownership entails (altering, vaccinations, medications, licensing, etc.) Owning a pet and keeping her or him in a manner in which she or he will be well cared for and comfortable requires an initial and ongoing financial investment, as well as an emotional and mental investment.
After the Adoption Follow up by calling a few days later to ask how it is going. Let the adopter know that it sometimes takes a little adjustment to blend a new animal into a household. Your support at the beginning with help the new family through its transition. Problems: Certain behaviors like biting, chewing, digging, soiling, barking, destroying the house, aggression towards other family animals, friends or relatives are issues which sometimes can be dealt with through education, training, new products, etc. There are products available through catalogs to discourage many different bad habits: muzzles for biters if company is coming; scratching posts for cats; products to clean up messes; electronic collars for barkers, invisible fences.. You can talk to the adopters about solutions. Many people will want to try and work out the problem. Sometimes, however, people give excuses when the reality is they just don’t want to deal with the animal, they weren’t ready for all the work, attention, or care an animals needs). If it becomes clear they are simply not interested in solving the problem, don’t try to convince them. Arrange to take the animal back. It is important to mention this possibility to people when they adopt, so that they don’t end up giving the animal to an unsuitable situation if things don’t work out.