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How To Rehome A Pet Responsibly

How To Rehome A Pet Responsibly

If you’re considering advertising an animal, you need to feel confident that the people responding will give it all the love, care and attention it needs. But how can you rehome a pet responsibly, ensuring potential buyers will be well-suited to their new pet?

Whether you’re finding future homes for a newborn litter, or unfortunate circumstances mean having to say goodbye to a beloved family pet, read on to learn the best way to rehome a pet responsibly.

1) Face To Face

Invite potential buyers to your home so they can see the animal with it’s mother, or simply in it’s home environment where it should be at it’s most confident. This gives you the opportunity to see what the potential buyer’s like, and how they interact with the animal.

Potential buyers should welcome any questions you have for them. This could include if they’ve got experience with the species / breed, what hours they work, if the animal will spend extended periods of time alone, and who else will be living in the animal’s home.

Never offer to meet a potential buyer in a public place. Always have them come to you.

Remember, you’re interviewing them for a very important job. They could become your animal’s new family. If you feel the potential buyer isn’t being open, or you don’t get a good feeling, you can say No to them. This isn’t a ‘first come, first served’ situation. Never feel obligated to hand your animal over.

2) Visiting Time

After that initial meeting in the animal’s own home, it’s a good idea to ask potential buyers if you can visit their home to make sure it will be suitable for the animal. If vaccinations aren’t an issue, you could consider taking the animal along to meet the residents, including other pets and children it may come to live with.

Get assurances that the potential new home will be suitable for the animal. This could include the size or type of property, and whether there is a secure garden if one is needed. You need to feel confident that the animal is going to the home you would want it to have.

3) The Price is Right

You might be tempted to advertise your animal as ‘Free To Good Home’. Please don’t. Preloved recently banned adverts of dogs as ‘Free To Good Home’. A minimum asking price of £50 is now required. To find out more about the potential pitfalls of giving an animal away, please click here.

A buyer willing to make the initial payment to rehome your animal is showing a financial commitment to the animal’s future.

If you’re uncomfortable requesting payment, feel free to ask the would-be buyer to make a donation to charity instead.

4) Happy and Healthy

Ensure that the animal has the required vaccinations and health checks in place, along with any records to support this.

  • A newborn puppy will need to be wormed after its first fortnight, and worming should be repeated every two weeks.
  • At six to nine weeks it will need its first vaccination.
  • By law, all dogs must be microchipped by 8 weeks of age. This should be registered to the breeder but information about the chip should be passed to the new owner to update the details.
  • Similarly, keep a diet sheet for a buyer to take with them that shows the food that you have been feeding the animal.
  • Discuss neutering with potential buyers. It’s a commonplace procedure that prevents unwanted births in the future and can also have positive health and behavioural impacts.

Encourage any would-be buyers to (carefully) hold the animal. Watch how they approach and handle the pet. Guide and advise them where it’s needed.

One thing to look for is potential allergies. One of the most frequent reasons given for subsequent rehoming is the new owner is allergic.

5) Mother’s Love

Remember, most animals need to remain with their mothers until they are able to feed themselves. For example, puppies, kittens, and rabbits, should be at least 8 weeks old before they are rehomed.

Keeping a puppy chart with the birth date will ensure that you are fully up to date with when your puppy is ready to be re-homed.

6) Social Life

Young animals are naturally inquisitive about their surroundings. When you’re interacting and socialising with them, encourage the new owner to do the same.

Tell them about the experiences the animal has had so far. Have they been around other animals? Children? Have they been outdoors (vaccines permitting)?

7) It All Adds Up

Let’s be honest, owning a pet is expensive.

According to the Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG), the average cost of owning a dog can be anywhere between £6,500 – £33,000, and for cats and rabbits you’re looking at approximate lifetime costs of £12,000.

If the potential buyer hasn’t owned an animal before, make sure they’re fully aware of the costs involved. Amongst other things, this can include feeding, worming, flea treatment, insurance, occasional veterinary bills, suitable housing / bedding, boarding. It all adds up!

8) Taking Time

Any animal demands a commitment in terms of time. Whether that’s dog walking, cleaning out a rabbit’s enclosure, or litter training a kitten, ask would-be owners about their work/life balance.

You could ask about support structures they have in place during times when they are absent, and how they’d cope should their circumstances change, for example a change in work hours or having to relocate.

You need to be confident they’ve got time in their lives, and are fully committed, to give an animal the care and attention it will need.

9) Surprise! Here’s a 15 year commitment…

Ask potential buyers who the animal is for. That probably sounds unnecessary, you’d assume it’s for them, but that’s not always the case.

There are a number of reasons why it’s not advisable to purchase an animal for a surprise gift, including:

  • The recipient may have allergies that you’re unaware of
  • The recipient may be unable to support the animal financially
  • The recipient’s lifestyle, including work, childcare, and leisure commitments, may not be compatible with caring for a pet
  • The recipient simply may not like this particular species / breed / specific animal

10) Detailed Description

To ensure you rehome a pet responsibly, be prepared to give any potential new owner as much information as you can. They need to know if their home and lifestyle is compatible with the needs of the animal.

Make sure your advert includes as much detail as possible. This includes the animal’s temperament, details about its parents, its breed, sex, medical history and whether it would be suited to a home with children and other animals, etc.

It is also a good idea to upload a good selection of up-to-date images that clearly show any buyer what the animal looks like.

11) The Write Stuff

As a seller, it’s important to consider preparing a written agreement for the new owner to sign. Documents such as The Puppy Contract and the Kitten Checklist are a great way to make the exchange more formal, without being too intimidating. They also include great information to help support new owners.

If you’d like further advice on such an agreement, take a look at such organisations as The Kennel Club, or the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy.

12) The 5 Welfare Needs

Trying to rehome a pet responsibly can be overwhelming, as well as incredibly emotional.

Try to keep in mind that you’re looking for a new owner that can provide the animal, as the bare minimum, it’s 5 Welfare Needs as outlined in Animal Welfare Acts that apply across the UK.

If you think the new home cannot support this, please look elsewhere.

The 5 Welfare Needs

Further Information To Help You Rehome A Pet Responsibly:

Pet Advertising Advisory Group

Dogs Trust

RSPCA GetPuppySmart

Cats Protection


Wood Green Animal Shelters

Justine Dench

Justine Dench

Creative Editor

Justine Dench is the creative editor for Preloved. Her key personal interests include sustainability, conservation and animal welfare. Justine also has interests in photography, music, gardening and home interiors.