As the pet's listing owner, you are responsible for screening applicants and choosing the best safe and loving home for your pet. This article guides you question by question through screening any Rehome adoption applications you receive. To see your applications, log in here and then click Applications. (If you have multiple pets, each has separate applications each their profile.)
1. Why am I looking to adopt a pet?
Great answers are anything that has to do with love or companionship. If someone wants a companion for his or her other animal, that can be fine, but ask follow-up questions to make sure that if your pet doesn’t become the best playmates with the existing pet, your pet won’t be given away or relinquished to an animal shelter.
If the answer is “I want my children to learn responsibility”, or “I’m adopting a pet for my child”, please ask questions about the parents’ intention to take responsibility for your pet’s care when their child loses interest or becomes too busy to handle daily walks/feeding/litter box cleaning, etc. Many pets are relinquished to shelters for just this reason.
“As a gift” is another answer that requires further questioning. Is the gift for someone in the same household, like a spouse or a child? In that case, make sure that the recipient is aware of the gift and that the person who filled out the application is willing to take responsibility for the pet’s care. If they’re not, the gift recipient should be the one to fill out the application. If the gift is for someone outside of the household, the recipient should absolutely be the person to fill out the application. After all, your pet will potentially be living in their home, so you’ll want to know all you can about them!
2. A little more about me
Options are: college student, a stay-at-home parent, a professional, or a retiree.
This question just gives you a basic idea of the applicant. Please do not use this to discriminate against someone due to age! Retirees can make amazing pet parents, as they have time and love to give and many retirees are extremely fit and active. We’ve also known many wonderful pet guardians who adopted during college. The key is to make sure they understand the commitment they’re making and to require proof that they’re allowed to have pets where they live.
This is where the application shows if they have one child, multiple children, and their general ages. If your pet isn’t good with kids and the adopter has them, go no further.
If your pet is good with kids and you decide to move forward with an in-person meeting, ask the adopters to bring their kids with them. Then, observe the way the kids interact with your pet. Just as importantly, observe the way the parents guide them. Do they let their kids treat your pet roughly? If they intervene, are they kind to their children, or do they yell at them? You can tell a lot about how someone will treat a pet by the way they treat their children. Also, watch how your pet reacts to the children. Pets often give off subtle signs of nervousness or discomfort, such as lip licking or yawning, or not-so-subtle signs, like actually trying to avoid the children.
3. My Home
For dog owners, if your dog barks when left alone, an apartment or condo may not be the best fit. However some dog owners use dog daycare or bring their dogs to work, so you can ask for more details of each applicant. If the adopter lives in a house, ask about the backyard: Will your dog ever be left alone in the yard? For how long? How tall is the fence Ask about the height and security of any backyard fence and gates.
For cat owners, if you cat is an inside only cat, you can ask if their windows are all securely screened.
Tip: You can ask an applicant to email or text you photos of their home and other pets, or even a video tour, to see if their home looks looks safe and secure. (Applicants can't see your email or phone number so you would need to give that to them either by emailing it to them, or when you call them.)
4. Pet Resume
If your pet isn’t good with other animals, obviously you’re looking for a pet-free home (or a home belonging to an expert professional behaviorist who simply won’t give up).
If your pet is good with other animals and the adopter’s pets are good with the type of animal you’re rehoming, that's a good sign. For dogs, do a careful introduction at the "meet and greet" before finalizing the adoption. For cats, make sure that the adopter is comfortable keeping the cats in separate rooms and doing a slow cat-to-cat introduction like this.
5. Household Lifestyle
How active are you?
Make sure this answer matches the degree of activity your particular pet needs. If you’re adopting out a senior citizen, he or she may not need or want much exercise. But if you’re adopting out a really high-energy pet like a Jack Russell terrier mix or an intelligent highly-driven dog like an Australian Shepherd, your dog will require a lot of activity in order to avoid frustration behaviors like barking or destroying household items.
How many hours per day will your pet be alone?
Acceptable answers to this question vary by pet. You know your pet best. So many different factors play into what will make your pet happy in their new home, including but not limited to the type of pet, pet's age, energy level, environment, training, daily exercise, other pets in the home.
Where will your pet sleep?
Where people keep their pets is as diverse as the people on this planet! Some people believe pets should never come inside their home, others think it would be cruel to have pets not sleep on the bed with them at night. When looking at responses to this question, consider what your pet is used to and happy with and what would make him happy in his new home. If the response is simply "inside, be sure to ask where "inside" is -- is that anywhere inside their home, inside a garage, or inside a crate in the kitchen? For cats, while we advocate for keeping cats safely indoors-only, if your cat was an outdoor or indoor/outdoor cat, be sure the family is willing to keep the cat completely enclosed for 30 days, the time most rescuers tell us it takes for a cat's internal compass to reset to a new location. Other pets, too, can be more likely to roam from a new home, so keep that in mind as you consider the answers to this question.
After I’ve screened the adoption application, what’s next?
Not interested? Click "politely decline" which sends an automated polite message to let the applicant know. This helps the person move on and find another pet who needs a home.
If the application looks good: Click "Contact Adopter" to see their phone number. Call and speak on the phone. The phone call is a perfect time to talk specifically about your pet and his or her needs and quirks. Give the applicant the opportunity to ask you all of their questions as well. Read: What questions should I ask applicants on the phone?