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Re-Homing a Dog
Looking to re-home a dog?
It's actually easier to help you find ways to keep your dog than it is to find him a new home, so let's start there.
- Moving? Consider moving to a pet-friendly rental, even if that means breaking your lease or boarding your dog until you can find a new home. Info on Securing a Pet Friendly Lease here.
- Facing foreclosure? Know your rights! Renters in Foreclosure.
- Stray Dog? Here are your best options if you found your dog as a stray. (Note: If you're local to the SF bay area, we can help you with free training and support for your stray to keep him out of the shelters and to lighten the load.)
- Behavior issues? Check out our Dog Owner Bible if you're struggling with behavior issues.
We understand that keeping your dog is not always possible, so we built this page for those who are trying to keep their dog out of the shelter while they search for a new home.
Shelters and Rescues: Gaining popularity...but
The good news is that interest in adopting a 'second hand' pit bull is on the rise and shelters are becoming a preferred place for adopters to find a desirable family dog.
The bad news for Good Samaritans and families needing to re-home a dog: Despite the wonderful progress that's being made in the sheltering world, there is really no such thing as a "no-kill" shelter where people can deliver homeless pit bulls, and private (limited intake) shelters will likely turn your dog away. Public shelters are obligated to accept homeless pets from their community. They do their best, but as a whole, shelters are not the nicest places for dogs to live and many are euthanized when conditions get crowded and the stress of confinement wears them down.
If you have to surrender, would your dog stand a chance? The answer depends on your dog's personality as well as your shelter's reputation for placing dogs - 'pit bulls' especially. The best shelters advertise their dogs and maintain strong working relationships with their volunteers and local rescues. Check your shelter's facebook page to get an idea on how hard they work to place their dogs and how much support they receive from community partners. Public shelters tend to attract more adopters, but their intake is also much higher and so is their euthanasia rate. It's a gamble.
Who Gets Adopted? Shelter dogs that are well socialized to both people and other dogs have better prospects. If your dog is reasonably well trained, friendly to strangers and generally easy going, he will likely stand a better chance than dogs who are fearful, have zero manners and/or who have dog intolerance and/or arousal issues. This is especially true if your shelter does not have a behavior/training program in place to work on those issues. Right: Captain Spanky was a favorite at Berkeley Animal Care Services, in part, because his former home socialized him so well.
Reputable rescue groups continue to be one of the most reliable ways to find good homes for dogs, but most will not accept owned pets and prefer to use their foster homes for shelter dogs who are at risk. Can you keep your dog a while longer? Some rescues will allow people to serve as a foster home, and/or show them at adoption events.
WARNING: If you decide to surrender a dog to a rescue or sanctuary, it's very important that you tour their facilities before you walk away - ALL of their facilities. Use a critical eye: Some organizations may have appealing websites and facades, but what goes on behind the scenes can be a very different story. Too many animals with too few helpers can result in animals suffering from the physical and emotional distress of sad and deplorable conditions. Animal hoarding is a growing concern around the country.
Plan Ahead. If you think you might be losing your home, start looking for options for your pets immediately. It can take several weeks or months to find a pet-friendly apartment or a new family for medium and large sized dogs.
Watch this! Strategies for re-homing your dog.
Can't see the video? Go HERE.
Set up a facebook page for your dog!
Don't forget to post critical details where readers can find them immediately, including: Dog's location, direct contact info, dog's personality style including age, health status, training history, habits and any known particulars with other dogs and cats. Post often! Photos and videos are worth a thousand words.
Think like an adopter.
When trying to find a new home for a dog, put yourself in the shoes of someone who is currently shopping literally hundreds of dogs-in-need, both in shelters and online. Where would you go to look for a new friend? What would matter most to you during your search? We recently asked 2000 people to tell us where they found their dog, and what was important to them during their search.
BADRAP Survey Results: "what attracted you to your dog?"
1. The NUMBER ONE reported most important factor in adoption decisions is the zing of the personal connection felt when meeting a dog for the first time. So you will need to get your dog out and seen - in person - to improve his odds. How do you do that?
- Learn if your local rescue groups will allow you to attend their adoption events with your dog.
- Get your dog in training class to brush up his manners and teach him a few parlor tricks to impress new friends ("high five" etc)
- Put an 'Adopt Me' shirt on your dog and bring him out on as many errands as you can where he'll encounter the public.
- Create trading cards or flyers so people have a take-away with the dog's photo, bio and your contact info
- Have a friend help you make a video of your dog being playful and/or affectionate.
2. The SECOND most important determining factor reported was the match to 1) the adopter's family and 2) their pets. Knowing this, we strongly encourage you to socialize your dog as best as possible to make him desirable to more people. Obedience classes are a great place to start your dog's socialization with both dogs and people. You may meet one or more folks in class who wish to do group walks, and possibly play sessions too. Even if you're under a time constraint, a couple of one hour classes can be an enormous help.
3. The THIRD most important factors to adopters are 1) a dogs 'story' 2) connection via photos 3) a desire to save a shelter dog.
Important: Avoid the 'sad sack' trap
Avoid making your dog look and sound like a train wreck. One of the bigger mistakes we see is using photos of a dog at his or her worst. Shocking injuries, sad rejected faces, frightened body language -- they may attract rescuers, but they'll leave most families with one thought: "That dog is damaged. How can we ever trust him to be normal?" Look at your ad as if you were shopping for a dog for your best friend. Is the language warm and inviting or sad and desperate? Stories that detail a dog's past abuse or that exploit dramatic story lines tend to repel. Your dog lives in the present and is likely an optimist despite any hardships he may have faced - Let his resilience be part of his legacy that his adopters can be proud of, starting right now.
Adoption Story - Teddles: How did 'Vick dog' Teddles (right) land such a great home? Easy - His adopter Cindy simply fell in love with his personality when she met him during a training class. She had no idea he was a 'Vick dog.' We didn't keep it a secret - we honestly forgot to tell her! Without the baggage that naturally clings to over-used labels ('fight dog' 'abused dog' etc.) adopters can see a dog for who he really is in the clarity of the present moment. How refreshing for everyone!
Adoption Story - Annie: Senior dog Annie was in our program for weeks with no interest. Everything changed when we posted this photo of her wrapped in her foster mom's warm embrace on facebook (right). Suddenly, several strong inquiries poured in at once. The connection people felt when viewing this candid photo seemed to make all the difference.
PHOTOS: Shoot Smart. The best photos captivate dog shoppers rather than repel. Some excellent advice here: 10 (Easy) Tips for Fab Photos
Where to pOST your photos and bios
Facebook - 17% surveyed told us they found their pit bull on Facebook.
Craigslist - 13.3% surveyed found their dog from an ad posted on Craigslist.
Link: Read a Craigslist ad that worked
As a rule, spayed/neutered dogs tend to attract better homes. Getting this done before re-homing a dog is the responsible thing to do. Check here for low-cost options.
Other popular places where adopters tell us they found their dogs: Classified ads, flyers on bulletins boards and word of mouth. Don't forget to post flyers on campuses, in your vet's office, laundromats, coffee shops and community bulletin boards.
Capitalize on your dog's personality and best features
Rowdy Much? 'Diva' - a BADRAP dog - was a bit of a handful when we brought her into our program. To attract a home that enjoyed a high energy dog, we used our point-and-shoot camera to create a video to show people how much fun they'd have with this rascal in their life. It worked. Her fun-loving family credits the happy vibe of the video for inspiring them to want to take a drive and come meet her. Look for the dog who is jumping up at the water hose and making us laugh. Take a look: VIDEO
Helping the Adoption Stick. This is our most helpful hand-out for smoothing the transition during the first days with a new dog. Share it with your dog's new home! A New Dog in the Home
We asked two thousand people to tell us where they first found their pit bull and what kind, if any, advertisement or promotion lead them to their dog. Their answers reveal the current trends in adopting pit bulls as family pets. Link here to open survey in new page.
A FINAL NOTE: When communicating with rescues, understand that most are very full and overextended. Pleading emails written in ALL CAPS are often overlooked because rescues just get so many. BUT - emails with facts that include known personality traits and video tend to pique rescue workers' curiosity and give them enough information to help them know if they might have an option for your dog. This is especially true when they show a dog playing with other dogs, enjoying a training session or other favorite activities.