Call Your Dog’s Breeder or the Shelter/Rescue Organization
Before you do anything else, call the person or entity you got your dog from and ask for help. Even if several years have passed, responsible breeders care about the puppies they sold and will want to help you find a new home. They may even take the dog back. At the very least, they deserve to know what you intend to do with the dog, and what will happen to it. If you can’t remember the breeder’s name, look on your dog’s registration papers. If, however, you do not feel comfortable releasing the dog back to the breeder, don’t do it.
If you got your dog from an animal shelter or rescue service, read the adoption contract you signed when you adopted him. You may be required by the contract to return the dog to that rescue or shelter organization. Be honest with them about what is preventing you from keeping the dog and be open to other solutions outside of returning the dog to the organization, for example professional training.
Evaluate Your Dog’s Adoption Potential
To successfully find a new home, you need to be realistic about your dog’s adoption potential. Look at your dog as if you were meeting him for the first time. What kind of impression would he/she make? What would make him/her stand out as adoptable?
What kind of home do you want for your pit bull? A large fenced yard? Another dog to play with? Children? No children? Make a list of what you feel is most important for your dog. Then get real. No home will be perfect of course, so you’ll have to make compromises. What kind of people are you looking for? What will you be willing to compromise on? Once you have a firm idea of what you’re looking for, it will be easier to plan your search and get the results you want.
Get Your Dog Ready
Your dog will be much more appealing if he’s clean and healthy. First, take him to the vet for a check up. He’ll need a heartworm test, a DHLP and a rabies vaccination if he hasn’t had one within the last 6 months. It is likely that your vet will recommend a fecal to ensure that the dog is free from parasites. Be sure to tell the vet about any behavior problems so he can rule out physical causes. Don’t forget about heartworm, flea and tick preventatives as well.
If your dog isn’t spayed or neutered, do it now! Spaying or neutering will assist in making sure that your pup ends up in caring and compassionate hands. It is one of many way to ensure that a family who wants a best friend and family member will adopt your dog. If you can’t afford the cost of surgery, check with your vet, local shelter or rescue groups for information about low-cost spay and neuter programs that are available. You can call the following numbers for low cost spay/neuter referrals and vouchers: 1-800-248-SPAY or 1-800-321-PETS. Having your dog neutered or spayed is the best going away present you can give him.
If your dog has not been microchipped, this is a great time to do it! It’s not unusual for newly adopted dogs to get loose and become lost. The change in environment and family can be disorientating. In this instance, a microchip will help your dog get back to you so that you can contact his new family.
Groom your dog. You want your dog to look beautiful and make a good impression. He needs to be clean and well-dressed! Bathe him, trim his nails and clean his ears. If you can’t do these things yourself, take him to a groomer. Think about purchasing a new collar, we suggest a martingale because they are more difficult to slip out of and don’t forget a new leash to go along with the collar.
Set an adoption fee. The fee should cover any reasonable medical expenses, i.e. routine or preventative care and possible new items such as crate, food, bowls, collar/leash. An adoption fee may also help ward off those individuals who do not have the best interest of your dog in mind.
Word of mouth doesn’t go very far, so don’t be afraid to use any marketing avenue at your disposal. Ways to advertise include posting flyers at veterinarian’s offices, groomers, pet stores, anywhere there is a public bulletin board and even Craigslist. Done right, marketing is the most effective way to reach the largest number of people. It’s easy to write a good ad that will weed out poor adoption prospects.
Your ad should give a short description of your dog, his needs, your requirements for a home and of course, your contact information. The description should include his breed, color, sex, etc. Hints: if your dog is less than 2 years old, state his age in months so he’ll be perceived as the young dog he is. If he’s over three, just say that he’s an “adult.”
Emphasize your dog’s good points: Is he friendly? Housebroken? Crate Trained? Well-mannered? Loves kids? Does he do tricks? Has he had any training? Don’t keep it a secret but don’t exaggerate either. Knowing his name doesn’t make him “well-trained”!
State any definite requirements you might have for his new home: fenced yard, no cats, kids over 10, etc. Try to say these in a positive way – for example, stating “older children recommended” sounds better than “no kids under 10”. If your pit bull doesn’t like other pets, say “should be only pet” rather than “doesn’t like other animals.”
Always state that references are required. This tells people that you’re being selective and that you’re not going to give your dog to just anybody. This statement will do a lot to keep people with bad intentions from dialing your number.
Never include the phrase “free to good home” in your ad even if you’re not planning to charge a fee. If possible, don’t put in any reference to a price at all. The chance at a “free” dog will bring lots of calls, but most of them won’t be the kind of people you’re looking for and many of them will be people you’d rather not talk to at all.
For the local paper, your ad might read:
Pit bull: neutered male. Friendly, housebroken, well-behaved.
Best with children over 10. Fenced yard, references and home
visit required. $150. Karen 555-1234
Along with your local newspaper, advertise in all major papers within an hour and a half’s drive. Schedule your ad so that it appears in Sunday’s paper – the issue that’s the most well-read and widely circulated. If your budget is very limited, choose to run your ad only on Sundays rather than throughout the week. Nearly every community also has small, weekly “budget-shopper” newspapers that offer inexpensive classified ads. Take advantage of them!
There are many places online to advertise, too, including Petfinder, Adopt-A-Pet and Paws Like Me. Paws Like Me is essentially a dating service for people who are looking for their new family member. It asks questions in order to match the right dog to the right person based on personality. Paws Like Me also assist in adoption applications and adoption fees and allows you to donate to a local rescue/shelter. We’d love it if you picked LOVE-A-BULL!
For flyers: Take some good quality cute photos of your dog that highlight his looks and personality. Use an online picture editor such as canva, pixlr or pic monkey to make attractive flyers. Your flyer doesn’t have to be expensive or professional, just neat and eye-catching. Since you’re not paying for words, you can write more about your dog than you could in a newspaper ad. Be descriptive!
Post your flyers at grocery stores, department stores, vets’ offices, pet supply stores, grooming shops, factories, malls, etc. – anywhere you can find a public bulletin board. If you have friends in a nearby city, mail them a supply of flyers and ask them to post them for you.
Don’t be discouraged if your phone isn’t ringing right away. Most people give up too soon. It can take a month or more to find a new, suitable home for your dog, so plan on advertising for several weeks. Make sure to put a phone number and/or email in the ads so you can be easily reached and make sure you have a voicemail set up if you are unavailable.
Are people contacting you about your dog?
Then check out our information on screening potential adopters in order to ensure your dog is going to the best home possible.
Content adapted from Pit Bull Rescue Central: Pet Rehoming Considerations