Did You Know You Can Adopt Pets Straight From Members of Your Own Community?

We all know the traditional way to adopt: go to your local shelter, a rescue, scroll your way through Instagram, or go to Adopt-a-Pet.com, and fall in love.

These are very, very good ways to add a pet to your home and your life.

Did you know that it’s also possible to adopt a pet straight from members of your own community? There are people who can no longer take care of their great dogs, excellent cats, and other critters, who are looking to place them directly into a new home, without the pet ever entering the shelter.

This is called “self-rehoming” and it is very important! 

Wilbur, Charlotte, and Fern belong to My Pit Bull is Family executive director Shannon Glenn. Fern, in the middle, joined the family when her owner called North Minneapolis Pet Resource Center, a project of My Pit Bull is Family, to surrender her dog. “We informed her that we didn’t intake dogs but could help get the dog to rescue. Needless to say, we fell in love with her and decided to keep her,” Shannon says. “Wilbur and Charlotte love her too!”

Self-rehoming is often more humane for pets, because it allows them to remain in homes—which helps them stay healthy and well. Being able to learn about the pet’s personality, behavior, background, preferences, and more—are they good with other pets?; do they like kids?; do they have funny little habits?—from the person who knows them best, also helps ensure the pet is adopted into a home where they will be a great match. 

Self-rehoming offers reassurance to the pet’s original family, too, by allowing them to pick, and perhaps even stay in touch with, the new owner.

There’s extra urgency now, while animal shelters across the country are at critical capacity, and pets who truly have nowhere else to go need that very limited kennel space. 

So how do you actually go about adopting a pet who’s being self-rehomed? Here are a few tips:

  • Check self-rehoming websites like home-home.org and adoptapet.com, where people who need to find new homes for their pets can list them. On home-home.org, all the pets are being self-rehomed, while adoptapet.com is a mix of pets who are up for adoption through shelters and rescue groups, and those who are being self-rehomed—but you can actually search the site just for pets being self-rehomed, if you want! This is a new search function that’s just been added to the adoptapet.com website.
  • Check your local shelters’ social media pages. Many shelters put up courtesy posts, like this one from Cincinnati Animal CARE, for people who are self-rehoming their pets.  
Often, shelters will put up courtesy posts for pets in the community whose owners need to find them new homes. Check your local shelter’s social media pages for pets being self-rehomed—and reach out to your local shelter if you need support to rehome your pet.

  • Keep your eyes on Nextdoor and other local social media pages. It is not uncommon at all for people to put up posts when they need to find new homes for their pets. Be forewarned: responses can be judgmental; don’t be shocked. Your compassion will be noted and appreciated.
  • Put word out with your friends, neighbors, coworkers, and, if you’re not shy, random people you meet out and about. You never know who’s heard about someone who can’t keep their dog, or a cat (or rabbit, or turtle), or who’s in that position themselves. 
  • Look for adoption notices in the real world. You’ll find flyers for pets in need of homes at vets’ offices, supermarket bulletin boards, and other places with a lot of foot traffic. I can speak from personal experience that this method can work out beautifully. I adopted my dog Barky in law school, when I saw a paper flyer for her on a New York City bus depot. Barky became a beloved family member, a dog who launched my extended family into pit bull advocacy, and a funny, silly, perfect creature we all still treasure and miss, a lot, a decade after her death. There may be a paper flyer up on a bus depot or supermarket bulletin board, with your future family member on it, too—one who can fill your home and change your life.
This is Barky. She was perfect.

For folks who need to rehome a pet, here’s how to do it yourself instead of bringing the pet into the shelter: Reach out to your network—in person and online—and post to self-rehoming websites like home-home.org and adoptapet.com. You may have local social media pages, like this one in Wisconsin, for rehoming pets, as well.

Your local shelter may also be able to help by posting an adoption listing on our website and social media. 

Be sure you include good photos of the pet who needs rehoming; pics that show off who the pet is, and will let people visualize how it would be to live with them. Include relevant details like how old the pet is, whether they are fixed and vaccinated, and whether they’ve lived with kids and other pets.

Many shelters and other organizations offer safety net support, like a pet food pantry and access to veterinary care, for pet owners who would like to keep their pet, but aren’t sure how. You can find out about your community’s safety net support by checking your local shelter’s website, and by searching on pets.findhelp.com—a brand new free, first-of-its-kind platform to make accessing pet support services easy. Simply enter your zip code, then search for whatever pet services you’re interested in. Think Yelp for free and low cost pet support services. Pet support is just a click away!

And shelters, now a word for you: We’ve got some great resources and toolkits just for you, to help you support community members rehome their pets (“supported self-rehoming”).

And here’s the link for community partner organizations to build a presence on pets.findhelp.com and support pet owners in your area!

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