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Helpful Topics For Pet Owners

Need to find a loving furrever home for your pet? Rehome by Adopt-a-Pet.com & The Petco Foundation are here to help you find the purrfect adopter!

Our service is free for you but we do collect a small adoption fee paid by the adopter. 100% of the fee will go to a local shelter or rescue that either referred you to Rehome or an orgization you would like to donate to help their mission. As a non-profit organization, Adopt-a-Pet.com is committed to supporting animal shelters and rescue organizations in their important work. That’s why we feel strongly that your pet’s adoption fee be donated to a local shelter or rescue organization. That also helps us keep disreputable breeders from abusing our rehoming service.

Whats the first step? Creating an account.

While onboarding we will ask you a couple questions and start a profile for your pet. After onboarding is complete you'll receive an email asking you to confirm your email address. Please select the green 'Confirm' button in this email and login to your account to confirm your email address. If you miss this step, it will make logging into your dashboard difficult.

The Rehome team will review your pet profile after you've confirmed your email address. When published you will receive an email alert. Your pet's page will then be live on Adopt-a-Pet.com for millions of interested adopters to view.

Adopters will show interest in your pet by filling out an adoption application. This application will be on your dashboard. We'll send you an email alert with a button to your dashboard. You'll want to log in and go to the applications tab to view your prospective adopters.

Please use our detailed tips in our ‘Handling Prospective Adopters' section below to help you choose a great adopter.

Found the purrfect adopter?

You'll need to screen their application and meet in-person to see if they're a good match for your pet. If you both have decided it's a match, then you'll need to complete the adoption by signing and submitting an adoption contract.

You can find out more in our ‘Finalizing an adoption’ section below.

Have any questions? Our friendly Rehome team will be happy to help! Send them a message at rehome@adoptapet.com.

There is no definitive answer to this. We have had pets that have been adopted within weeks or months of being posted on Adopt-a-Pet.com, pets that have been inquired about but never adopted, and some pets that have never had an inquiry.

Trends we’ve found:

  • Dogs tend to have a higher chance of being adopted over cats.
  • Younger pets tend to get more inquiries than older pets.
  • The more detailed the profile, the better! Post good photos, videos, and stories to showcase a pet's personality!

A tip from us:

  • The sooner you can get your pet’s profile posted to our website, the more opportunity there is for us to spread the word about your pet by posting his/her profile on partner websites and in our daily ‘New Pet Alerts’ emails.

Sadly, most likely we cannot help if you can’t keep your pet beyond today. The process of rehoming a pet through the Rehome by Adopt-a-Pet.com program is one that takes, at minimum, several days.

You need to allow time to upload information about your pet, have our team approve your pet page, and then, once your pet is on Adopt-a-Pet.com, it takes time for the right potential adopter to find your pet.

Depending on the type, size, and age of the pet, it can take from a couple of days to several weeks or, rarely, even months to find your pet a new home.

If you absolutely cannot keep your pet while we help you find a new home for him or her, here are some options to consider:

  1. Ask your friends and family if any of them are able to provide a temporary home for your pet while we work together to find a permanent home.
  2. If you can afford it, keep your pet at a boarding facility during this time.
  3. Call your veterinarian’s office and let them know about your situation. See if they have anything to suggest. Sometimes a vet can provide boarding; other times they may know of a family looking to adopt another pet.
  4. Contact rescue organizations in your area to see if any have room for your pet. You can find a list here. A few things to keep in mind: Many rescue organizations don’t take pets from owners, only from public animal shelters. Also, most rescues do not have a facility; they rely on a network of foster homes, most of which are usually full. Most rescuers also have “day jobs” and may not be able to respond to a call or an email immediately. It’s very expensive for rescuers to care for pets, so it may help if you can offer a donation to a rescue, or offer to pay for your pet’s care until a home is found. Tip: if your pet is a specific breed, look for rescues that specialize in that breed. Google can also be helpful with this.
  5. As a last resort, relinquish your pet to an open-admission shelter. Your first choice should be a private shelter, like an SPCA or humane society, where they may be able to keep your pet for a longer period of time. Your absolute last choice should be a public municipal shelter, where an overabundance of people relinquishing pets means overcrowded conditions and pets only having a short time to find a home before being euthanized to make room for others coming in.

Please search our database here to find local shelters and/or rescues who may be able to help.

Adoption fees serve several purposes. They help ensure that the person who adopts your pet understands, and is able to meet, the financial obligations of owning a pet.

They also prevent “bunchers” (people who acquire pets from “Free to Good Home” ads and sell them to medical research laboratories) from getting their hands on your pet. Charging an adoption fee also aims to weed out people who might be looking for a free animal to use as a fighting dog, or as bait for fighting dogs.

As a non-profit organization, Adopt-a-Pet.com is committed to supporting animal shelters and rescue organizations in their important work. That’s why we feel strongly that your pet’s adoption fee be donated to a local shelter or rescue organization. That also helps us keep disreputable breeders from abusing our rehoming service.

Please, rest assured that the fees collected from your pet’s adopter will be extremely appreciated by the animal welfare organizations they go to support, and the funds will be used to help other animals in need. Your cooperation with this policy is crucial in helping this program survive.

Being honest and providing as much information about your pet is recommended. You should be transparent about what you want for your pet, what your pet’s personality is and what your pet really needs (and always be honest about any medical needs and behavioral issues). Remember that you want to find potential adopters that are qualified and ready to provide your pet with a home where they can be happy, safe and loved. So start off by giving potential adopters all the detail they need to know about your pet so that they can determine if they are a good fit before taking the steps to apply.

Tip: Posting effective photos and videos of your pet is very important in helping your pet to be seen. See our photo and video tips section for more information.


  • Our research shows pet listing photos that are a close-up of the pet’s face are clicked on more often than shots taken farther away. HOWEVER especially if you and all your other nearby shelters and rescues are all using face closeup shots, all pets start to look the same. Try mixing it up and see what works for you and your pets! Dogs with long noses try profile shots, dogs showing their bellies or running happily, cats jumping up for a toy or curled up next to a person.
  • Put a colorful bandana or collar on the pet.
  • Place a toy in the photo with the pet.
  • Take the photo with grass or light solid-color fabric as the entire background.
  • Have a smiling person petting, sitting next to, or holding the pet. Even just a person's hands in the photo will show the pet is friendly with people, and also show a pet's size.
  • Take the photo outside in indirect sunlight (cloudy day or in solid shade) or in the brightest indoor spot.
  • Use treats or a toy to get the pet to look right into the camera.
  • Run dogs around until they are panting – it makes them look like they are “smiling”.


  • have the pet pictured behind bars (this makes the pet look scary & makes shelters seem like a sad place to visit).
  • be dark or gloomy.
  • be blurry, out of focus, or not have the pet shown clearly.

Tip: You should take the photos using the LOWEST resolution on your digital camera. They will still look great on the internet (which only shows low resolution images) and will load much faster to any site you post them on because they are smaller files!

Once you have completed your pet's page and we have approved it, you will have received an email from us to let you know that your pet has been posted on Adopt-a-Pet.com. You'll want to log in to your dashboard and go to the 'Pet Profile' tab and select the 'View Pet Profile' button.

Potential adopters will now be able to view your pet’s profile on Adopt-a-Pet.com. If they are interested in your pet, they can fill out an adoption application. This application will be sent to you to screen the applicant.

To learn more about next steps in the process, check out our How It Works & What to expect page.

Tip: We have found that pet profile’s that contain a video are much more likely to get a higher rate of inquiries than pet profiles that do not contain a video.

You can login to your dashboard and select the 'Pet Profile' tab to edit your page. Make sure to click the 'Save' button at the very bottom of the page to save your edits.

Tip: Clck the button that says, 'Pet Profile' to view your pet's profile on Adopt-a-Pet.com. If you don't see an edit you made on the live pet page you'll want refresh the dashboard page (On Windows: Ctrl+F5 or on MacOS: Command+R).

You pet page will be live until your pet is adopted or you delete it. To prevent stale pets If you are alerted to an application and don't login to view the application within a week we will remove your profile from public view. You can login at any time to re-publish your pet's profile. We just want to ensure that all pets on Adopt-a-Pet.com are avaible to be adopted.

We’re going to take you, question by question, through the adoption application and talk about what to look for (and what constitutes a red flag).

First, some general info: we asked several rescuers what they look for in an adoption application. The number one answer: the feeling that the applicant thinks of their pets as part of the family, and cares for them responsibly. Some important clues are: previous pets have lived long lives, if other pets at home are spayed or neutered and up-to-date on shots, and that pets live in the house, even when alone, not in the yard or the garage.

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.

If your pet needs a certain amount of exercise it is good to try and match that trait with the person or family that may be adopting your pet. There is no hard and fast rule with matching here. We recommend taking notes if there is a concern and asking more questions when you have a conversation with the potential adopter.

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.

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.

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 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!

If the answer is “to mate with my other dog”, “as a guard dog”, or anything else that makes you uncomfortable, go no further.

For dog owners, if you know your dog needs a big backyard for playtime between walks, or your dog barks when left alone, an apartment-dweller may not be the best adopter. That said, committed dog owners who live in an apartment or condo often bring their dogs to dog daycare while they’re at work. Others are allowed to bring their dogs to work. These are some great things to ask about.

If the adopter lives in a home, ask about the backyard. Confirm the security of the backyard fence, and ask for photos or a video tour so you can make sure it looks safe and secure.

We ask potential adopters to make sure they are allowed to have pets in their homes. If the applicant rents their home or owns a condo with an HOA, they may need permission to have a specific breed like yours in their home. Feel free to clarify this with the potential adopter.

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. Observe the way the kids interact with your pet, and the way the parents guide them. Do they let their kids mistreat your pet? 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.

If your pet isn’t good with kids, and the adopter has them, go no further and politely decline their application.

If your pet isn’t good with other animals, you’re looking for a pet-free home.

If your pet is good with other animals, and the adopter’s pets are good with the type of animal you’re rehoming, you’re probably in good shape. All that’s left is the introduction to make sure that they do, indeed get along.

If there’s any uncertainty, you’ll want to do a careful introduction (for dogs), or make sure that the adopter is comfortable doing an introduction at home for cats (which might not happen until after the adoption, and must be done very slowly). Please see the FAQ titled, “Should the adopter bring their children and other pets to the in-person meeting?” (LINK Anchored) for more info.

After you’ve looked over the adoption application, it’s time to decide if you want to move forward, or if you want to turn down the applicant.

If you’re not interested in moving forward, it’s highly recommended that you send the applicant a quick note letting them know. This can be uncomfortable, we know, but it’s a really courteous thing to do. Also, it helps the person move on and find another pet who might need a home quickly!

If you are interested in moving forward, we recommend three steps before you set up an in-person meeting:

  1. Do your own research. Google is your friend; try Googling the person’s name or email address and see what comes up.
  2. If Google doesn’t bring back anything alarming, set up a phone meeting using the Contact button on the application page. Take another look at the application and make a list of any follow-up questions you’d like to ask. The phone meeting is a perfect time to talk specifically about your pet and his or her needs and quirks. For instance, if your pet is picky about other animals, if she will only eat an expensive brand of dog food, or if he tends to get really matted and requires frequent grooming, make sure the applicant is aware and able to accommodate all of your pet’s needs. Give the applicant the opportunity to ask you all of their questions as well.

If, after the phone meeting, you have any nagging doubts, trust your instincts! Better safe than sorry. If all signs point to “go”, it’s time to set up an in-person meeting!

After you’ve received and screened an application from a potential adopter, the next step is to set up a time to talk on the phone or via video chat, if you can. Once that step is complete, it’s time to set up a meeting!

It is very important that you put your safety first when setting up an in-person meeting. Make sure you ALWAYS meet in a public place and, if at all possible, bring a friend! A pet-friendly store is a perfect, safe place to meet. A veterinarian’s office can also be a good option, but make sure you make an appointment first.

If your pet is a dog, you may be tempted to hold your meeting at a dog park, but this isn’t recommended. Your dog will be so distracted by the sights, smells, and sounds of other dogs that he might not be able to concentrate on the potential adopter. It’s important for you to observe your dog’s body language around the adopter so you can tell if this is a good match, so keeping distractions to a minimum is a good idea.

If your pet is a cat, a pet-friendly store can also be a great place to meet. No matter what, ALWAYS bring your cat in a carrier, and always conduct the meeting indoors. A nervous cat can bolt. If you can find a safe, enclosed room to meet in, open your cat’s carrier and see if he or she wants to come out. As you know, cats are not always comfortable in strange surroundings, and may want to hide, so cat meetings are by nature more challenging than dog meetings. Do your best to balance the need of the person to meet the cat with the cat’s need for safety.

When you arrive at the meeting, spend a few minutes talking with the potential adopter, allowing your pet to investigate him or her at his own pace. Some pets, especially friendly dogs, will want to give the adopter lots of enthusiastic attention right away, and that’s fine. Timid dogs, or cats in carriers, may need a little while to warm up. Let your pet take the lead. If your pet likes treats, bring some for the applicant to offer your pet. Treats can be a great ice-breaker!

Make sure you allow the potential adopter the chance to bond with your pet. It can be tempting to want to talk a lot, but it’s very important to give the adopter some quiet time to observe, talk to, touch (if your pet is comfortable), and get to know your pet. They need to be able to picture him or her as their pet, so it’s in your best interest to step back and observe without talking or intervening too much. Of course, the applicant will have questions for you, so don’t go too far. Also, and we can’t stress this enough, if you have any doubts or nagging feelings, don’t hand over that leash or carrier, even for a moment. Trust your gut instincts.

After the applicant and your pet have had a little bonding time, it’s your turn to ask questions. It’s a good idea to ask questions that were on the application, and also to ask some new ones. Often an in-person conversation will bring up things you haven’t heard before.

So, how do you know if it’s a match? We asked several rescuers who have conducted hundreds or even thousands of these meetings. The most common answer was, “Your pet will tell you.” You’re looking for a connection between your pet and the prospective adopter, one that seems genuine and comfortable. Is the adopter willing to get down to your pet’s level? Does he or she seem to recognize what is special about your pet?

At the end of the meeting, you and the adopter should agree to take the day to think about everything, and make plans to talk the next day. This is a big decision and shouldn’t be made on the spot! You might also ask the adopter for more information, and even to email you a video tour of their home so you can get a feel for where your pet will be living. Many people find this very comforting.

The adopter should definitely bring their children to the meeting. It’s important that everyone in the prospective adopter’s household come to the meeting. You definitely want to observe how the children treat your pet, and to make sure that your pet is safe for them as well.

Introduce your pet carefully to children. Let them be within view of each other, but safely out of range. Observe everyone’s body language for any red flags. When you feel comfortable that there is no danger, let them come closer together and observe them again. Continue this until the children and your pet are able to touch each other. Watch for three things:

  1. Is your pet comfortable?
  2. Are the children gentle?
  3. Are the parents watching closely to make sure their children are gentle, and giving appropriate guidance?

Introducing your pet to the potential adopter’s other pets is a bit trickier. Ideally, a pet-to-pet introduction is done slowly and carefully in the home after adoption, and sometimes it takes days or weeks to really do it right (for more on this, check out this great article about introducing dogs, and this one about introducing cats). In fact, if you’re adopting out a cat, the adopter shouldn’t even bother to bring their dog or cat to meet your cat.

If you’re adopting out a dog, though, the adopter should definitely bring his or her own dog to the meeting. You’ll want to do an initial introduction; it’s definitely not ideal, but if they don’t love each other immediately, you, and the adopter, can at least see what you’re up against. Is it just a little tension that could be mitigated by a nice, slow introduction at home? Or is it outright ferocity that the new owner isn’t prepared to handle?

No. Before the meeting, make sure the prospective adopter knows that you don’t plan on completing the adoption on the spot. This takes the pressure off of both of you, and helps you bring the meeting to an end gracefully. Also, if you decide during the meeting that you don’t want to adopt your pet to this person, it’s often more comfortable for you to relay that to them via email or phone, rather than right there on the spot.

At the end of the meeting, suggest you and the adopter both take the day to think about it, and make a plan to talk the following day.

The day after your meeting, send the applicant a really nice email, thanking them for taking the time to come and meet you and your pet. Be as honest as is safe and comfortable about the reason you’ve decided this isn’t a perfect match for your pet. Hopefully they’ll be just as gracious as you.

If you don’t feel comfortable giving a reason, don’t! Here’s a sample of an email you might send:

Dear Joe,

Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with us! I think you'll make a wonderful home for a lucky pet, but I hope you'll agree that your home isn't the best match for Fluffy. I wish you the best of luck in your search for a new family member. Thank you again!


If you want to go the extra mile, you might even send them a link to a similar pet for adoption on Adopt-a-Pet.com!

After reviewing their application and doing an in-person meet and greet if you are ready to choose an adopter please visit your dashboard and find the applican'ts name on your dashboard. You will see 'Complete Contract' next to their name. Please select this option. You will see a popup from Hellosign with a document that needs to be read and then signed. This is the contract and transfer-of-ownership document. Once complete we will send an email to the adopter. We will prompt them to pay the adoption fee electronically and once paid they will be propmted to sign the same document.

We recommend having adopters who found your pet outside of Rehome still fill out an application. You never know what will happen to your pet after an adoption. With a legally binding contract you can be at ease knowing the adopter is a good fit and will provide a loving furrever home.

After you've gone home from the meet and greet and decided on an adopter, let them know your decision ASAP! You'll want to arrange to drop-off between yourself and the adopter. Make sure the location is safe. If your pet has a favorite toy or bedding make sure it goes along too.

We understand this step can be the hardest! If there is anything Rehome can help with please don't hesitate to ask us! We're here for you! rehome@adoptapet.com.

We will follow up with you 1 weeks after you have received an application to ask if your pet has been adopted. If your pet has been adopted and you forgot to finalize the adoption, you can follow the steps to sign the adoption contract, transfer-of-ownership and send these documents to the adopter to finalize. It is very important that you take the time to finalize your adoption because we cannot release pet records to the adopter until the paperwork has been completed.

The best thing you can do to help your pet get settled into the new home is to give the new owner as much information about him or her as you can. Prepare a document with as much of the following as you can provide, and anything else you can think of:

  • Known likes and dislikes: Does your pet like to be touched a certain way? Does he growl when his feet are brushed? Does your cat refuse to be picked up and held?
  • Current diet and feeding schedule: The new owner is free to change your pet’s diet, of course, but they should try to keep everything the same for at least a few weeks. Changing environment and being without you will be stressful enough, and may cause digestive issues. Adding a change of diet to the mix can multiply that.
  • Activity preferences and schedule: Do you walk your dog one mile, twice a day? Is he or she used to just having a bit of playtime in the backyard? Does your cat get cranky unless you play with her and tire her out? Make sure you let the new owner know, so your pet can continue to get what he or she needs (and won’t be expected to do too much, if they’re not used to much activity).
  • Commands: What tricks or commands does your pet know, and what are the exact words or hand motions needed to evoke the behavior?
  • Litterbox preferences (cats): Have you discovered any quirkiness in your kitty’s litterbox-using habits? Does she need complete privacy? Does she prefer a certain brand or type of litter?

It’s also nice to send along any remaining food you have, as well as your pet’s favorite bed, toys, litterbox, leash, carrier, etc. Those items are familiar and may help to ease the transition. Help adopters to safely introduce your pet to their existing pets.

That’s between you and the adopter. When you posted your pet’s info to Adopt-a-Pet.com, you probably selected one of two options: you want the pet returned to you (or you at least want to be notified and given the option of taking the pet back), or you want the new owner to find the pet a good home. The adoption contract we supply to you will reflect your preference. In the case of the latter, the adoption contract requires the new owner to exhaust all available options (including using the Adopt-a-Pet.com rehoming service) before relinquishing the pet to an animal shelter.

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