Home > Pet Adoption > Placement Guide

General Guidelines: The ABC's to Finding Good Homes for Pets

(Download this page as a PDF document)

Advertise your pet

Place creative but factual ads in local newspapers. Always include an adoption fee. Asking for a fee will discourage people who exploit pets from responding to your ad. You can always donate your fee to a charity.

Run the ad several times. You want to reach a wide audience. Don't feel pressured to release your pet to anyone you are not comfortable with.

Keep a log of all inquiries and notations of the conversation. Be sure to accurately record the names and telephone numbers so you can follow up or get back to them later.

Make colorful letter size posters with a picture of your pet and post them at veterinary clinics, pet supply stores, community centers, church bulletin boards, and your work place.

Ask your friends and relatives for names of possible homes. Also ask your veterinarian and his/her staff; they can be a valuable resource when trying to place a pet.

Contact local animal welfare groups and breed rescue clubs. Networking with animal-minded people will open many doors for new homes. Give them a small poster of your pet and make sure that it contains the pet's personality profile and how you can be reached. Ask them if you can post a picture at their shelter or place of business.

Use the Internet and e-mail to advertise your pet. Send a group e-mail to all of your friends with a cute picture and attractive description attached. And ask them to forward your e-mail on to their friends.

Be patient and cautious

Be prepared to wait until you feel comfortable that your pet will go to a safe and loving home. This may take just a few days or it may take weeks before you get a good response to your ads and posters. So be patient and qualify potential adopters upfront. Remember, you are the voice for your pet and his/her future lies in your hands so make sure potential adopters can and will provide a proper and loving home. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. Do not hesitate to decline and adoption offer if you don't feel it is right for your pet.

If your pet cannot stay with you during this transition, place him/her in a safe environment. Canvas your friends for a temporary foster home or board your pet with a local boarding facility. If you are trying to place a stray, see if the boarding facility will work with you on their fee.

If your pet is a rescued pet, you may want to ask friends and co-workers if they will help you sponsor the pet by paying some of the expenses to ready the pet for adoption. You may be surprised how many people who love animals would welcome an opportunity to help an abandoned and unwanted pet. Ask and you shall receive...almost every time.

Never offer to give your pet away for "free." Tragedy often follows the pet that is placed with a casual and uncommitted owner. The adopter who is not willing to make a financial commitment to the pet will likely not commit to providing a proper home for the life of the animal either. Pets who are given away for free are more at risk for neglect, abandonment, and abuse. Unfortunately, there are people who "adopt" free animals to be used as fighting dog bait, sold at flea markets, sold for animal research, used as live bait for exotics like snakes and alligators, used for breeding stock at puppy mills, or sacrificed in cult rituals.

Care and prepare

Set a standard for the new pet owner by showing that you care about the welfare of the pet. No one wants to take on a "problem" pet. Plus, there are a lot of animals to choose from out there and the more "finished" your pet is, the easier it will be to place your pet in a new and loving home.

Essentials to making your pet competitive in the market:

  • Spay or neuter your pet. If finances are an issue, look into low-cost clinics in your area.
  • Have a veterinarian perform a complete physical exam on your pet and make sure the pet is up-to-date on all vaccinations.
  • Have your dog tested for heartworms and treated if the test is positive.
  • Have your cat tested for feline leukemia and FIV. If they test positive, be sure to tell potential adopters so precautions can be taken.
  • Microchip your pet - veterinarians and spay/neuter clinics can do this for you.
  • Use a 30-day flea/tick treatment such as Advantage or Revolution. (Caution - do not use dog flea treatment on cats!)
  • Make sure your dog is house-trained by using the crate-training method. Also train the dog to walk on a lead/leash.
  • Make sure your cat is trained to use a litter box.
  • Have your pet professionally groomed.
  • Prepare a personality profile and history on your pet.
  • Take pictures of your pet playing and having fun.
  • Provide an appropriate leash/collar.
  • Make sure there are visible ID tags on your pet.
  • Have an adoption contract available.
  • Be prepared to take your pet back if the adoption doesn't work out.

Statistics that will knock your socks off!

  • 87% of pets taken to municipal shelters are euthanized.
  • Over 6,000,000 pets are euthanized in the U.S. each year.
  • 17 million dogs and 30 million cats are born in the U.S. each year.
  • Only 11% of pets turned into municipal shelters get adopted.
  • $2,700,000,000 is spent on animal control in the U.S. each year.
  • For every $1.00 spent on spaying and neutering, $7.00 could be saved in animal control.

Interviewing Techniques That Bring Good Homes And Peace Of Mind

  1. Speak only with adults and arrange for a face-to-face interview.
  2. Prepare a list of questions and make sure each is properly answered. Don't be intimidated - your pet is counting on you.
  3. Open the door for conversation by asking open-ended questions instead of yes/no questions, for instance:
  • Why are you looking for a pet and why do you want this particular pet?
  • Who is this pet for and who will be the primary caretaker?
  • Where do you live and, if you are renting, may I contact your landlord?
  • Tell me about your home and yard.
  • Tell me about the pets your have had and where they are now.
  • Have you lost a pet in an accident within the last 10 years? If so, tell me about that.
  • Have you relinquished a pet to a shelter or gotten "rid" of it in the last 10 years? If so, tell me about that.
  • Do you currently have pets and are they spayed/neutered and friendly with other pets?
  • Where do your pets stay when you are away from home, on vacation, or out of town?
  • Who is your veterinarian and may I contact him/her?
  • Are you looking for an inside, an inside/outside, or a strictly outside pet?
  • How do you feel about declawing (for cats)?
  • Does anyone in your home have pet allergies and, if so, how will this affect having a pet?
  • Is everyone in your household in agreement with getting a pet?
  • How do your children deal with pets? Are they afraid of pets? Do they treat pets with respect?
  • Are you willing to share names of references with me and return the pet to me if it doesn't work out?
  • Are you willing to complete an application and possibly have an in-home visit?
  • Are you willing to pay an adoption fee for this pet?

Sample Ads That Get Attention

(Always run a picture with your ad if you can afford to do so. A picture is worth a thousand words!)

Persian cat with attitude. Precious thinks she rules the world! She prefers a home where she is the only cat. She is gorgeous and knows it. She loves to sit on laps and be petted. Adoption fee and Vet reference required. If you want something "precious" in your life, give us a call at (888)888-8888 or e-mail us at

"Rooster" is a young adult neutered male Chow. He's the Tom Cruise of the canine world. This guy has it all: personality, looks, charm, brains and heart. If you need a friend who will always be there for you, then "Rooster" is your man. Don't be lonely another day. Call "Rooster" today! Adoption fee and Vet reference required. Call (888)888-8888 or e-mail us at Adopt Me!

I am a happy man with a million dollar smile and I need a new best friend. If you have a fenced yard, soft bed, big heart and a warm lap, then you are my kind of person. If you like walking in the rain, cuddling at midnight, and whispering in the dark, call me at (888)888-8888 or e-mail me at [ See example ]

Top of Page

Return to Pet Adoption page

Animal Protection League
P.O. Box 5354
Columbia, SC 29250
(803) 783-2119

The Animal Protection League of SC (APL) is a local non-profit humane organization founded in 1982 by concerned individuals who love and respect animals. Our goal is to provide a safe haven for the community’s abused and abandoned dogs and cats and place them in permanent loving homes.

Read our Mission Statement


If you would like to support APL's mission with a financial contribution, please click the Donation button and a secure PayPal screen will open in a new browser window. You do not need a PayPal account, and your donation to the APL is tax deductable. Thank you!


APL is registered with the South Carolina Secretary of State as a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity.

All donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.


Site Map