Graphic: Johnson County Humane Society’s logo.

Johnson County Humane Society

rescues   spays/neuters    saves lives   finds homes



















Re-homing a Companion Animal

|   To Re-home, or Not   |   Don’t Just Abandon Your Pet!   |   Owner/Rescuer Re-home Service   |   Prepare Your Pet to Find a New Home   |   What Makes a Good Home?   |   Advertise Wisely and Widely   |   Screen Prospective Adopters   |    Choose the Best Home   |   Re-homing Links   |

To Re-home, or Not

“We just bought a new couch.”    “I lost my job.”    “I’m pregnant.”    “We’re moving.”    “Graduation is tomorrow.”    “I’ll be in the hospital for six weeks.”    “The allergist said to get rid of the cats.”    “My grandfather has to move to a nursing home.”

People relinquish companion animals for many reasons, a few are justifiably ethical, most are not. “Behavior concerns” kill more companion animals than any other cause of death.

If you must make a decision to relinquish an animal, remember that in acquiring one you were making a lifetime commitment to him. Even rescuers make a commitment for every animal they choose to rescue.

Animals are not “things” to be disposed of. As his caregiver, it’s your responsibility to find him a safe and loving new home.


Don’t Just Abandon Your Pet!

Every year in Johnson County, hundreds of animals die because they are left to fend for themselves.

With appropriate time and effort, you should be able to find your animal a new home. It is far more responsible to arrange for a dignified death at a veterinary clinic or animal shelter than to assume you are giving your pet “a chance” by abandoning him outside and “hoping for the best.”

Be sure to give the Iowa City Animal Care & Adoption Center and the Johnson County Humane Society an opportunity to help you.

Owner/Rescuer Re-home Service (ORRS)

Our foster homes seem to be perpetually full. Now there’s a way for owners/rescuers to feature animals to be re-homed on our web site—through our Owner/Rescuer Re-home Service (ORRS).

Cruise Meet the Animals and click on some of the animals to read their profiles. Note how we describe their attributes. You’ll also see examples of the kinds of photos we use.

After you prepare your animal to find a new home (just like we prepare our animalssee below), download our ORRS form. It's designed so you can select the text and copy it into a word-processing program (or your e-mail program). This allows you to type your responses and e-mail the completed form to us. Fill this form out thoughtfully and carefully, since it will be uploaded to the page we create for your animal.

Take a number of photos (high-resolution digital) of your animal. Think “glamour shots” and remember that busy backgrounds are distracting—consider throwing a sheet over the couch.

  We need something for a “head shot” or portrait (leave the cropping to us) to appear on the “Meet the Animals” page.

  Then take 5-6 photos that show the entire animal.

E-mail the photos and completed ORRS form to us and we will use them to build a web page for your animal. People who e-mail us with an interest in your animal will be referred directly to you.

The Owner/Rescuer Re-home Service form is a PDF file. If you don’t already have Adobe’s Acrobat Reader (the application necessary to read PDF files), you can download it free by clicking the button below:

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Preparing Your Pet to Find a New Home

Be sure that your animal is in good health. Don’t even think about relinquishing her if she’s ill or has a persistent health or behavior problem before consulting with your veterinarian:  other options may be available.

Minimum Provisions for Adult Cats


  current rabies vaccination

  current distemper vaccination

  negative feline leukemia/immunodeficiency virus test

Minimum Provisions for Adult Dogs


  current rabies vaccination

  current distemper vaccination

  negative heartworm test

Minimum Provisions for Kittens/Puppies

  well socialized, weaned, and litter-trained (cats)

  at least 8 weeks of age

  plans made for litter spay/neuter followup

  rabies vaccination at 3-4 months

  first distemper vaccination at 6-8 weeks, second at 9-10 weeks, (third at 10-12 weeks—dogs only)

  negative maternal feline leukemia/immunodeficiency virus test (cats)

  plans made to spay the mother and neuter the father

Of course it’s to your animal’s advantage to be clean, well-groomed, and free of parasites (fleas, ticks, ear mites, intestinal worms, etc.).

Which room in your house is going to show your animal off to the best advantage? Think about how your animal behaves around strangers.

Graphic:  Cat greeting three puppies.

What Makes a Good Home?

You know your animal best, right, so what kind of environment would be ideal for him?

Make a list of specific assets and needs to consider, for example:  no small children, loves other cats, fenced-in yard, etc., as well as any special attributes he possesses.

Complete our Behavior Audit a file you can download and print. Then prioritize the list items to identify your minimum requirements.

The Behavior Audit is a PDF file. If you don’t already have Adobe’s Acrobat Reader (the application necessary to read PDF files), you can download it free by clicking the button below:

Graphic: Get Adobe Reader

Advertise Wisely and Widely

Using your prioritized list, write a brief advertisement and place a classified ad:

•  Iowa City Press-Citizen   339-7355

•  The Cedar Rapids GazetteIowa City Edition   339-3160

•  The Community News Advertiser   339-3100

•  Solon Economist (624-2233)

•  North Liberty Leader (624-2233)

In addition, design a poster and post copies where you think potential adopters will notice them. Keep a copy of all the printed ads you place in newspapers and any flyers you post in case you need or want to work with us further.

Do NOT offer your animal “free to a good home. These ads tend to attract persons who are not very committed. In addition, they make it easy for dealers to obtain animals for research. Charge at least $15 to $30 for an adult animal and use the money to offset advertising and veterinary care, or donate it to your favorite animal charity.

Although people who charge an adoption fee may not get as many calls as those who advertise “free to a good home,” the calls they do receive are better ones. Marketing research shows that people believe they get what they pay for.

Screen Prospective Adopters

When potential adopters call, ask questions to see if what they have to offer meets the minimum requirements you have set for your animal’s new home. Remember that you are in charge of the conversation! If the callers rent instead of own, tell them you’ll need verification that their lease specifically permits pets.

Photo:  Finnegan the cat.

The Adoption Interview

•  When you invite potential adopters to meet your companion animal, give them plenty of time to interact.

•  Observe carefullythis is your best opportunity to notice body language, tone of voice and manner of speaking when addressing the animal, comfort level around and experience handling animals, parental advice to children, etc.

•  Answer questions fully and honestlyexplain that your goal is to place your animal with the most responsible caregivers you can find—people who will offer a lifetime commitment.

•  Even if things go smoothly, do not let them take your animal immediatelyexplain that they and you need 24 hours to think it over. This “waiting period” discourages impulse adoptions.

•  If you suspect you’ll need more time to decide, mention that there are other persons interested who have scheduled a visit. Tell potential adopters you may want to do a home visit before or after the adoption (whether you intend to or not).

•  Don’t be afraid to say “no.” Remember that the whole point here is to make a good match.

If the Potential Adopter Already Has Animals

People acquiring an animal for a companion to a current pet usually have concerns about what happens in the event the animals don’t get along. We like our potential adopters to complete a Behavior Audit (a file you can download and print.) for each of their pets so we can try to find a complementary match of temperaments.

The Behavior Audit is a PDF file. If you don’t already have Adobe’s Acrobat Reader (the application necessary to read PDF files), click the button below to download it for free.
Graphic: Get Adobe Reader

See our Adoption page for tips about how to introduce a new animal into a household. Please agree to take your animal back if things don’t work out in a reasonable length of time (usually 2-4 weeks is sufficient).

Once you and the adopter come to an agreement, be sure to exchange names, addresses, and phone numbers. Follow up the adoption with two or three calls during the first month.

Choose the Best Home

Evaluate potential adopters on the basis of

•  their responses to your questions

•  the “chemistry” of their interaction with your animal

•  the quality of the questions they asked you about your animal’s behavior and needs

•  the level of commitment they displayed

•  the overall environment you believe they would provide for your animal

•  your gut-level feeling about how safe your animal would be with them

Photo: Matilda the cat.

Items to Accompany Your Animal

•  the Behavior Audit you completed, describing your animal’s background and attributes

•  a pillowcase from your bed (to be returned) with your scent to help in the transition

•  a few days worth of your animal’s current food (and litter)

•  favorite toys

•  any current medications

Re-homing Links

Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center

JCHS Community Service Pet Listingafter you prepare your animal for adoption, we’ll feature her on our website

Petfinder’s Shelter & Rescue Groups

Witty Kittiesa local shelter for special-needs cats and exotic reptiles

Think You’re Allergic to Your Pet?good ideas from HSUS

Toxoplasmosis: learn the factsgood ideas from HSUS

Last update:  01/27/18

Contact Us

JCHS      P.O. BOX 2775      IOWA CITY, IA  52244-2775


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