How to Get the Word Out

If you do need to find a new home for a pet, you’ll want to advertise as widely as you can, in as many places as possible. Creating a flyer is a great way to start. Here’s what to put on the flyer:

  • Describe the appearance, size, and age of the animal.
  • Include the pet’s name and a good photograph of the pet (see the sidebar at right).
  • If the pet is spayed or neutered, include that information.
  • Describe his/her nature and appealing qualities.
  • Define any limitations the pet might have (e.g., not good with cats or small children).
  • Don’t forget your phone number and the times you can be reached.

Depending on the situation in your area, you might want to add “No Bunchers” to your flyer. Bunchers are people who pose as prospective adopters, pretending to be loving and concerned. The pets they obtain are then sold to dealers who in turn sell the pets to research laboratories.

When you’ve made copies of the flyer, post them throughout your community, wherever a good prospective adopter might see them. Ask to put them up at veterinarians’ offices, pet supply stores, and the workplaces of your family and friends. Places like health food stores, supermarkets, libraries, churches, and health clubs often have community bulletin boards where anyone can post flyers.

But don’t stop with posting flyers. There are many other ways to spread the word:

1. Contact as many shelters and rescue groups as possible. Most agencies will be overloaded, but they might allow you to bring your pet to one of their adoption days. They might be able to put you in contact with someone who is looking for the kind of pet you are trying to place, or they could have some other suggestions. You can find local rescues by calling 1–888–PETS–911 or visiting

2. Contact breed rescue groups if you’re trying to place a specific breed. If you have a pug or a Persian cat, for example, there may be rescue groups or clubs that have lists of people looking to adopt that particular breed. Some breed rescue groups might even be willing to place a mix, as long as the animal is close to purebred. Many of these groups have websites.

3. Place a classified ad in your local paper. When you write the ad, be creative! (See the sample ads below.) Try to make the animal as appealing as possible, but tell the truth. If you’re trying to place a dog who absolutely can’t be around cats, put that in the ad. Run the ad as many times as you can afford – you are looking to reach a wide audience.

It’s a good idea to mention in the ad that an adoption fee will be required. The bunchers we mentioned earlier gravitate toward ads that offer pets “Free to a good home.” Asking for a fee will discourage these people from following up on your ad. If you feel uneasy about asking for a fee, you can always donate the money to your favorite charity.

Sample Classified Ads

  • Betty Lou has a new pair of shoes and she is ready to walk right into your heart! Betty is a two–year–old spayed female terrier mix. She loves to dance, prance and play. She is a doll! She is good with cats as well. Call Kelly or Doug at 555–3576 after 7 p.m. weekdays or all day Sunday. Adoption fee required.
  • Joe Cocker is coming to town and wants to sing for you. Joe is a three–year–old neutered male cockapoo with a great personality. Loves kids and dogs, but isn’t as keen on cats! He has had all his shots. Call Morris after 6 p.m. at 555–4674. Adoption fee required.
  • Persian cat with attitude. Martha thinks she rules the world! She is gorgeous, and knows it. She loves to sit on laps and be petted. She would prefer a home where she is the only cat. Adoption fee required. See her at the Petco on Broadway, Saturday, June 10, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Ask for Beth.
  • SHAMBU is the kind of companion that we all long to have. Loyal, playful, tender and kind best describes this beautiful orange tabby. He is 3 years old, neutered, and has had all his shots. He prefers an adults–only home. Call Jeremy at 555–2189 before 11 a.m. any day. Donation for my favorite animal charity required. No bunchers.

4. Post your pet on adoption websites. There are general adoption websites, as well as specific sites for certain types of animals (for example, FIV–positive cats, disabled pets, or senior dogs). Petfinder and PetHarbor are good examples of a general adoption website.

5. Use any and all of your community contacts. Ask friends and family to mention the animal in their church or community newsletter; send an e–mail about the pet through your office memo system; or share some flyers with members of clubs or associations to which you belong.

6. Don’t underestimate word of mouth! Tell anyone and everyone about the pet who needs a home, and ask friends and family to help with spreading the word. You never know – your father’s neighbor’s daughter could be looking for just the pet you have to offer.

7. Get the pet out there. (This works especially well with dogs.) The more your pet interacts with people, the more likely he/she will charm the right person. If you’re trying to place a dog, take him/her on walks, to pet supply stores, to the local park. Put a colorful bandana on the dog that says, “Adopt me.”