I got an email from a friend today. Her husband decided to surprise them with a puppy, which of course the kids were very excited about. However, they soon discovered that their daughter is allergic to dogs and has been having a lot of trouble breathing. So my friend is trying to find a new home for the puppy.
I emailed her back with words of advice. I've done the give-away-a-puppy thing. I am a firm believer in keeping your dog (or any kind of pet) for its lifetime instead of only when it's convenient for you. However, life happens and the ideal isn't always possible. You don't know when a family member might be allergic, you unexpectedly have to move, or it might be a case like ours where the dog's personality just doesn't fit with our family. (Side note: if you're thinking of getting a dog and don't know for sure that no one is allergic, then I'd recommend doing a "test drive" before actually committing to a dog. You can borrow a friend's dog, or do a trial of the specific dog you're interested in, or go stay with a friend who has a dog. These also might be great for learning about the responsibilities in caring for a dog, if you've never had one before. This will all help prevent a situation where you have to turn around and give the dog away.)
So, life has happened, and you have a dog that needs a new home. What do you do? Well I highly recommend Craigslist if there is an active one in your city. Another option is Petfinder.com. One side note: we were unable to list Zoey (our 5-month-old beagle puppy) on Petfinder because she hadn't been spayed yet. We were waiting until she was 6 months old (which is recommended) to spay her, and we had some financial issues that prevented us from going ahead and doing that. I was frustrated that they wouldn't let us list her, but it all worked out in the end.
I'm hoping that even though you're looking to find a new home for your dog, you're concerned about the dog going to a good home. I'd recommend charging an adoption fee in order to ensure that the dog goes to a good home. Most people who genuinely care about the dog won't mind a fee. (We asked for $40, if I remember correctly.) I also screened the people who were interested. I called them and talked about Zoey and asked about their home life (whether they had a yard, etc.) at length before I felt comfortable saying "yes". I was very impressed with the family who ended up taking Zoey. I was looking for a family with a fenced in yard and experience with dogs as pets. If possible, go visit their house and check it out. In my case, that wasn't possible due to distance but I looked up their address on Google maps and saw that they weren't lying when they said they had an acre of land! I was also impressed that they had had dogs before and raised them from puppies until they died of old age. It seemed like the perfect home for Zoey! And even after meeting them, I felt very comfortable with them. The only thing that makes me sad is they have not returned any contact to update me on how Zoey was doing. They did send me a picture last Christmas, but other than that nothing. They had never promised contact, even after I hinted at it, but I was hoping! It's okay though. I still feel confident that they were the best family for her.
If you are giving away a dog that isn't spayed or neutered, make sure the perspective owners aren't planning on using the dog for breeding (this of course is more of a concern if the dog is purebred). One option you could consider is asking for a more significant adoption fee (like $200), which is refundable upon proof of spay or neutering. Ideally, it would be best to go ahead and have the procedure done before giving the animal away, but often financial issues make that almost impossible.
Hopefully you'll feel as confident with your dog's new owner as I felt with mine! And if you're in the Atlanta area and interested in a 9-month old male Pomeranian puppy, let me know!
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