Finding a New Home for a Pet

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  • Rehoming a cat

    (4 replies)

    I never thought I’d be writing this but I think I need to rehome a cat. I have a 12 year old cat who I’ve had since she was a kitten and is pretty much the love of my life, but she’s old and while she is very tolerant of my kids, she isn’t too thrilled with the attention they give her. So a year ago I decided it was time to get a second cat, a younger one that was smaller so the kids could pick her up and had lots of energy, and who could take the attention off my older cat. I found a kitten that had lived with a 6 year old who dressed her up in doll clothes and was good with kids. When I brought her home my old kitty was not happy but she had lived temporarily with other cats before and always ended up getting along with them so I thought if I did the slow transition and followed all the advice things would resolve.

    A year in, she and the kitten, who is a young adult now, still don’t get along. I feel like I’ve tried everything. Multiple sprays for the rooms, keeping them as separate as possible, slow transition, I even hired a cat behaviorist and followed all of her advice and nothing has worked. The new cat still attacks my old cat, which is causing my old cat a lot of stress. As a result, I have not bonded with the new cat, and my 3 and 5 year old really don’t give her as much attention as I expected them to so I feel like she’s just not a good fit and I don’t think it’s fair to my old cat to keep her around.

    I’ve never had to rehome an animal so I don’t know how to go about doing this responsibly. The new cat really isn’t a bad cat. She loves attention and wishes I would give her more, she is really good with the kids (lets them pick her up and play with her and never bites them), and I think she would get along well with another cat that wasn’t as old as my cat and maybe a little less docile. How does one go about rehoming a cat when they don’t have friends or relatives that can take her?

    No advice but I’m in a similar boat— my fiancé and I just had a baby and his cat is very aggressive. He’s tried to attack the baby already and has scratched our friend’s toddler on the forehead. He’s a nice cat to humans, but just wayyy too dominant and aggressive. 

    We had the exact same thing happen except that our older cat (who was 4 at the time) was the less friendly cat and we decided to keep the new cat. Even after 4 years we were able to take the older cat back to the shelter we got her from, albeit with lots of guilt tripping from the shelter. If you got your newer cat from a shelter, I'd give that a shot as she sounds very re-homeable.

    I'm planning on going to the Berkeley Humane Society this weekend in search of a cat who does well with kids. If you haven't yet found a home for the new cat, maybe I could take her. You can DM me if you're interested!

    I don't know which organizations take in pets that need to be rehomed, but start with contacting the humane society. You can ask around at work, in case someone is interested. If you deal with an individual, ask for a rehoming fee of $50-$100 then donate it to a shelter. This is to insure that they want a pet and can afford food, etc. Ask the potential new family about their home, other pets, whether they know how to care for a pet, etc until you feel comfortable that they will be a loving family.

    Maybe the younger cat needs more personal space? If rehoming is not successful, I wonder if the younger cat would be more satisfied as an indoor/outdoor cat?

  • Advice about rehoming a dog

    (12 replies)

    We adopted a rescue dog about four years ago - a cute mutt who is about 25 pounds. The positives: he is super sweet with our family members and has never been aggressive with any of us. He is well trained, can sit, stay, will go in his crate upon command.  He loves off leash hikes and is great with other dogs. He is well behaved when we have to board him.  The negatives: he is very territorial and aggressive when anyone comes to our house. He will bark and lunge at anyone who comes on the property.  I have to put him in the garage when we have guests over and he will bark the whole time. Having houseguests staying overnight is a nightmare. I’ve spent over $500 working with trainers but the behavior has not improved. He’s small but not that small and it is scary when he goes after people. I live in fear of him biting a delivery person or god forbid a child.

    We have a new baby and I know it is inevitable that we will have to rehome him at some point. I can’t imagine ever having small children over to the house, it would be too risky. It absolutely breaks my heart as I have tried so hard with this dog for years. I know this sounds dramatic, but the dog is the main source of stress in my life, even more than my job, marriage, or the new baby!

    I would love some advice about how to do this. Looking online it seems that most rescue orgs highly discourage owners from trying to rehome their dogs and instead offer training resources. I have spent so much time and money trying to train away this behavior, please believe me. Every time I think about rehoming him I start crying. But I also know that having a highly reactive, fear aggressive animal in a house with children is so dangerous and irresponsible. I would love for there to be someone out there without kids (and who rarely has visitors) who is looking for a loyal dog to go hiking with, but I also know that this is unrealistic. Who would want to adopt a dog with these issues? Any advice here would be so greatly appreciated, thanks in advance! 

    If your child’s safety is at risk, you must get rid of the dog. I would take him to a reputable shelter before he makes a grievous mistake. Perhaps others on BPN will have recommendations. I’m sorry, I know it sounds harsh, but I would never trust a dog with reactivity and fear issues around a newborn baby. The dog needs to go immediately.

    Try contacting the shelter or rescue organization you got your dog from. We had to rehome two cats whose owner had died. The Berkeley shelter did take them back only because they had come from there originally.  I absolutely agree the dog needs to go. You did the best you could, don't beat yourself up.

    Hi there. I am sorry you are in this situation -- it is so heart-breaking! And, I agree that it would be best for all to re-home him. We adopted a dog last year who sounds very similar -- loved us, great with other dogs, loved to go on adventures... but hated other people and was very territorial. Unfortunately, he bit our neighbor's son -- they were understanding as they are dog owners themselves... until it happened a second time. That is when we knew we needed to re-home. Our kids were devastated, though were old enough to know why we couldn't keep him. In any event, we contacted the rescue agency and they took him back. Although we had him only 4 months, I think most rescues would understand that the situation is not tenable. You might start with the Milo Foundation. Many of the dogs they advertise seem to not be suited to homes with kids, plus they have a ranch where many dogs thrive. Another idea is to advertise him on Private owners advertise pets on there and you can tell your back story -- why he's so great and what kind of home he would thrive in. Good luck to you and congratulations on your new baby!

    Information on possible placement with the Milo Foundation is here (scroll down the page):

    In situations where you've hit the end of your time and resources, it makes sense to admit the problem and not get shamed into keeping a pet you really can't take proper care of. You've tried and hit your limits. Some animals have behavior problems that are really difficult to address, even with love, patience, and persistence. We kept a cat for over 20 years that was a biter, and a serious one. We were able (over time) to figure out a way to deal with his fear-based aggression, but we didn't have children. You have a new baby. it makes sense to place this dog elsewhere before it has to be put down because it bites someone. However, be honest about the behavior issues (as you have here). It's possible some other person or organization may be able to address the dogs' issues.

    I know this is hard and some people will be needlessly judgmental. But you have to do what you think is right. Good luck.

    Sorry to hear your pup has stranger danger to the extent that your life is negatively impacted. I am a volunteer with Milo Foundation in Point Richmond. They take owner surrendered pets, including special needs dogs, and if they are not able to rehome them then the animals can live out their lives at a beautiful sanctuary in Willits. Each case is individual and you may need to make a donation, but I have seen dogs at their facility in the Point that were surrendered after a new baby because of concerns about aggression. I personally would start there. Best wishes.


    This sounds exactly what been going through with our dog Minnie. We rescued her two years ago when she was 1yr old.
    We tried training her and things didn't work out until we started to give her medication recommended by an animal behaviorist from SPCA called Dr. Wailani Sung. 

    The medication has been able to get Minnie's fears more control. We had wag walkers come every day in and follow the training instructions Dr. Sung gave us and she is almost out of this. 

    We also had a baby and was worried about the same things as you. The baby is crawling now and they are best friends. Just like having any "normal' dog, you have to be watching their interactions and teaching the kid how to respect the dog. Baby has even pulled ears and tale and she doesn't care. Minnie loves the baby and has been the best sister.

    At this point, we can have guests in the house and Minnie has been able to handle it. It requires a lot of work but it possible.

    We're planning to have " strangers" come in every weekend still until we feel she is out if this which I hope is soon. Because it's so hard to have a dog like that and no social life. 

    I hope this helps.  

    Sadly we had the same issue with a rescue we got from a private owner who turned out to have undisclosed fear based aggression. We spent so much time and $ working on her issues. She got way better (3 vets refused to even work with her and advised us to put her down because she was so aggressive when we first got her) but alas her fear seemed to be in her DNA.
    Once my infant began crawling the dog lunged at him and I knew it was the sad truth that keeping my dog was risky. I called a breed specific rescue and had a long detailed talk with them, but like you, was told they wouldnt take her and to list her on Pet Finder. She stressed how important it was to not put her on craigslist for the high likelihood of her becoming a "bait dog" around here. Feeling desperate I decided to "bait" the rescue a bit. I posted her on craigslist with enough detail that the rescue would recognize it was my dog. I got the meanest email back from them. I mean really really mean, but they took her that day in fear of her fate if listed on Craigslist.
    On their website they wrote horribly about me in her bio. It was hard to read when I ADORED this dog, but I also knew a heartbreaking bio tugged on heartstrings and may get her rehomed quickly. Less then 3 months later she found a new home. A retired couple with no chilldren in the home.
    I still scan the facebook page regulary for her occassional update.
    I will say though that to this day it still PAINS my heart. I miss my dog soooo much. I always wonder if somehow I could have done something else to be able to keep her. Its a forever longing for my furry friend even years later.
    Right after she was rehomed I wrote the rescue org a really thoughtful letter expressing my gratitude for helping her. Despite what they may have thought of me I was just so grateful that she was placed into a new and safe home.
    I feel for you. Its a hard situation to remove your beloved pet for the safety of your family. Good luck, mamma.

    I understand how you feel about this and that it would be really hard! We adopted a dog 7 years ago that had been returned to Berkeley Humane because he was aggressive with toddlers/young children and cats. We had no small kids and no cats, so all was good. He is still snappy with neighbor kids, and we have had some close calls, but no bites and I am really careful now about staying at least 10 feet away from any child and making sure I warn any and everyone not to get too close. Maybe check with Berkeley Humane about what to do regarding rehoming.

    It sounds like you have done a lot of work trying to make this work. Above and beyond what many people do. I’m saying this because it’s also ok to come to the conclusion that a pet is not safe and happy in your care and that you all deserve a better situation. Do not let anyone shame you. Having a bite risk dog with visitors is incredible dangerous. Barriers and crates can help but the risk of human error is great. He also can’t be happy being so on edge when anyone comes to the house.

    I’m inferring that having him crated in the living space when people comes over isn’t any better than the garage but if you haven’t tried that, then give it a shot. You might also consider using a free standing baby gate or dog x-pen to create space between the crate and people as an extra precaution.

    The first thing to do is to contact the rescue. You have already done some reading so you know that they will shame and guilt you from here to Mars. I hope I’m wrong but changes are that it will happen. You can be firm and let them know that the dog is a bite risk to visitors and you know have people, and soon children, in and out of the house. Was there anything in your adoption contract about them taking pets back that aren’t a good fit? If so you might want to have that handy.

    If that is a dead end, then you can start contacting people who know and have worked with him. Your vet office, the trainers you have worked with, dog walkers, etc. They may have those resources to help place him in a better situation for him.

    After that, check out the list of rescues that were at the Bay Area Pet Fair. Many of them are smaller organizations that may have a just-right-fit foster home. Something that can be helpful when reaching out is to describe the balance between not giving up too soon and realizing that he will never truly be happy and peaceful in your house. It’s about his mental health and comfort too.

    It’s also worth considering the open door shelter where you live. They are obligated to take any animal brought to them from the city or county they serve. It’s not an automatic euthanasia, especially here in the Bay Area where open door shelters work very hard to place dogs in a variety or ways including rescue partnerships and their own foster program.

    I went through a similar situation with a dog I rescued before my son was born. 

    If you are still open to training, please call Virginia Dickson at Oliver’s Travels Dog training. We had a similar aggression issue with our then seven-year-old dog that worsened after we moved. At the time, my daughter was 2 and we didn’t trust the dog to be in the same room with her. It has been 2 years since training and yesterday 4 neighborhood kids plus my daughter were in our yard petting this same dog, who was calm and patient. She’s amazing. The downsides are she is located in San Jose and she will want to board your dog for 2-4 weeks (we did 3) while she trains, and then there are follow up sessions. This costs is a lot more than $500 (and be glad you are only out that amount—we went through 4 trainers before finding Virginia). But please talk to her because if this is the only problem with your dog, she can help you enjoy him again. She’s on Facebook or [email protected]. Good luck!

    If he is great with people he knows, and has not bitten anyone yet, it sounds like his behavior is fear based and can be changed.  I am currently working with Beverly Ulbrich, in SF, on training a dog with very similar issues.  She is super experienced.   One thing we are doing is every time a stranger comes over he has to sit and stop barking then he gets a really delicious treat.  He has to be in his harness and under my control, otherwise he just runs and hides, while still barking very loudly.  You have to save the best treats for this.  After a year it's actually working -- he will sit for his treat when friends come over. I'm not sure he will get to the point of taking a treat from the mail person but we'll see.   Many years ago I worked with the veterinary students at UC Davis, with a dog that bit people around food aggression.  Training plus prozac worked  for that dog.  Training can work, it sounds like you just haven't found the right trainer and or spent enough time on it.  I know it's hard and exhausting.  If you love him it's worth the try. 

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My parents are moving, need to find a home for aging dog

April 2011

My parents have to move for financial reasons to a smaller place and they won't be able to take the elderly family dog with them. We'd like to take her, but there are some big issues... 1) she is an outside only dog and for us to secure our property it would cost $1-2k in building/repairs and 2) even if we made all the repairs our property just isn't very suited for her, like there would be no shelter from rain, we are sure she'd bark constantly because of the noise of the neighborhood (my parents live in very quiet Orinda, we live in the Oakland flatlands near a busy intersection). She is really a sweet dog (pretty classic Labrador temperament), but given she isn't trained to be indoors any longer and that she is 13 years old, it seems like trying to find a new home for her won't be successful. We just don't know what to do. We can't afford to do what we need to do to our house to make it secure for her, but even then it isn't an ideal situation. If we give her up to a shelter, won't she most likely be put down? Does anyone have any advice on what we might do? Have we missed some possibility? Out of Ideas

There are plenty of cheap dog run fences you can get inexpensively at home depot for the short run. It should not cost that much to make improvements, surely? Yes he will be put down if he is not a cute puppy at the shelter.... dog lover

Contact a Lab rescue - they may have facilities and can take her or will have a family willing and able... At 13 you are right, she is not very adoptable, but she may have a great twilight with a rescue! Maggie

For the family dealing with mom & dad's aging dog, there are some excellent resources available. Muttville is a local nonprofit whose mission is to find homes for senior dogs. They're at

Also the East Bay SPCA does not put down dogs (except in cases of extreme aggression, which of course is not your situation). They have location in Dublin and Oakland; Pet lover

Aging dog issue: If you absolutely want to give up the dog, try Muttville in SF - they do only senior dogs. Not sure if they have room at the moment, but they might have a foster home, or maybe you could board the dog somewhere for a short term while a foster home is found. Boarding would be cheaper than securing your yard it sounds like. We adopted an outside only, 13 year old dog, a St. Bernard Border Collie mix... and she adjusted to indoor living just fine in about 2 months. She has her bed and just wants to be near us. She is now almost 16 and doing well. I hope the best for you and the doggie! AJ

If you don't think your yard will work, I would suggest craigslist, trying to find a foster home for the dog (maybe Milo foundation), or seeing if your parents have friends in Orinda who would want the dog. Keeping a dog in the cold and rain is against local animal cruelty codes, so you would need to get atleast a dog house or something to protect it from the rain/cold/sun.

From what I learned from people who have worked in animal control, I don't think it would make it long at the pound. (If anyone in BPN has different information, please feel free to correct me). It's my understanding that though most of the shelters in the area are ''no kill'', they still put down dogs which are unadoptable or have medical problems (which at 13 it will probably have something) or they can transfer to kill shelters. With all the foreclosures, the shelters are pretty full, which makes it hard for the best dogs to get adopted and even harder for those with known health problems. I hate to say it, but if your only option is to bring it to the ASPCA, then it might be best to put it down yourself in a loving way so that its last days are not traumatic and sad.

I can understand someone not wanting a dog living in their house if they are otherwise happy being free of the shedding and possible dog smell, but if your reason for not having it indoors is a belief it can't be done at this point, then you should atleast try it to see if the dog can adjust. In fact, at 13 years old, it would probably love being in a warm, dry house and less upset about not being able to run around outside as a young outdoor dog would be. If you have a walking routine, I doubt it will be hard to housetrain. Dogs understand instinctually understand that there are appropriate and inappropriate places to go to the bathroom, it would probably just take a couple of weeks to train it to go outside. I thought taking a dog out for walks everyday would be a big burden on my already busy life, but I have grown to really appreciate the time to just walk for 20 minutes which I never did before having a dog.

Good luck, I know its a difficult position anon