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If you would like to rehome a pet, rather than turn the animal into a shelter, there are proactive strategies you can use to increase your chances of success. First, prepare the animal for adoption. To increase the chances of finding a home and the success of the new placement, it is important that the pet is:

  • Spayed or neutered.

  • In good health and up-to-date on vaccinations.

  • Clean and groomed.

  • House-trained and reasonably well-behaved.


If your pet isn’t spayed or neutered, have it done. We don’t recommend placing an animal who has not been spayed/neutered into a new home. Doing so can result in unwanted litters, and neutered animals are less likely to show undesirable mating behaviors, such as mounting or howling. Puppies and kittens as young as eight weeks old can be spayed/neutered. For more information, talk to your veterinarian. If you need to find a source of low-cost spay/neuter surgery in your area, call the Smithtown Animal Shelter at (631) 360-7575.

Next, advertise widely. Get the word out, in as many places as possible, to increase your chances of success in finding a new home.


Here are some tips:

Photos and descriptions really help people make a connection to an animal. Take several good-quality digital photos of your pet. Make sure your pet is well-groomed, looking at the camera and can be seen clearly in the photos. Compose an ad that describes the pet’s personality, habits, and some of the little things that make this animal special.  For some tips on how to write an appealing ad, read How to Write Pet Profiles

Flyers are inexpensive to produce and often highly effective, especially when they include a good photo and lively description of the animal. They work especially well for older animals or animals with special needs. Post the flyers throughout your community, wherever a good prospective adoptive person may see it. Health food stores, supermarkets, libraries, churches, health clubs, veterinarian’s offices, and sporting goods stores are just a few examples of good places to post flyers.

Posting the description and photo of the pet on adoption websites is another effective way to find a new home. Check with your local shelter to see if they have an online adoptions page where you could list your pet. There are specific sites for certain types of animals (FIV+ cats, disabled pets, senior dogs, etc.) as well as general adoption websites, such as Post the flyer or information about your pet on social media sites, such as Facebook. Ask friends and family members to do the same.

To find a home for a dog of a particular breed or breed mix, look for a breed rescue group with whom you could list the dog. (On the Internet, search for “breed rescue,” where “breed” is the name of the particular breed.)

Contact all rescue groups and shelters in your area. Even if they can’t take your pet, some groups will offer courtesy postings on their websites, or allow you to bring the animal to one of their adoption events. Some ways to find local rescue groups and shelters:

Best Friends: No More Homeless Pets Network partners

Local rescue groups and shelters: Petfinder (look for “Find animal welfare groups”)

Statewide listings of rescue groups: World Animal Net

Use word of mouth and community contacts. Tell anyone and everyone about the pet that needs a home and ask friends, co-workers and family members to help with spreading the word. It could be that a co-worker’s father’s neighbor’s daughter is looking for a new pet. Ask people you know to mention the animal in their church’s newsletter, send an e-mail about the pet through their office memo system, or share some flyers with the members of their book club.

Get the pet out there! The more the pet is out and about, interacting with people, the more likely he’ll charm the right person. Take him on walks, to pet supply stores, to the local park. You can even put a colorful bandana or sign on him that says “Adopt me” or “Looking for a home.” Check with your local shelter to see if they have off-site adoption days; if so, they might let you bring your pet.

For more detail about the strategies described above, see the Best Friends manual called How to Find Homes for Homeless Pets,”  The manual provides simple step-by-step instructions for finding a good new home for a pet.


Finding a Great Home

There are several methods to ensure your pet is going to a safe home with people of solid character:

Firstly, draw up an application. Ask for full names, numbers, addresses, employers, and references. Ask for the name, location, and phone number of their current vet. Ask how many current pets they have, if any. Ask how long they’ve had these pets, or if they’ve ever had to rehome or euthanize, and why. Ask questions specific to your pet’s current life style. ex: “My cat is an indoor only cat, will you take care in keeping him indoors, or will you allow him out?’ Or, “My dog eats only high quality grain free dog food, what will you feed her?” We can’t be certain people will be 100% honest, but if you ask the right questions, followed with the next couple of steps, you will have a better picture of the applicants home, and their character.

Secondly, draw up an Adoption Application that they MUST sign. Include all their information, state your wishes for your pet, such as ‘must sleep indoors’ and what you would like them to do in the event that they should need to rehome him again. Don’t let your pet go unless their new owners sign the contract. If something goes wrong, or you find out they have done something to the pet you gave them, you need that contract for legal purposes; to get the pet back should you have proof of abuse.

Thirdly, DO A HOME CHECK! Meet the entire family. If you are rehoming a dog, take her for a visit before the pet passes hands or anything is signed. See how the potential adopters interact with her in a neutral zone, and in their own home. Important: If you don’t feel right about ANYTHING, don’t go through with the adoption.

Fourthly, ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOUR PET IS FIXED BEFORE REHOMING, so breeding cannot occur. 


If any potential adopter scoffs at any one of these requests, move on. Someone who truly desires to give an animal the best home, will not be deterred from your requests.

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