Please be very cautious about the people on CL and screen them thoroughly. Many of them are nut cases.


A 20 minute phone conversation where an applicant is telling you what you want to hear- true or not- is no way to pick a forever home for a dog. The information, below, should help you to go beyond that.


Please consider posting on  the nearest SPCA website, and veterinarian’s offices (a place where responsible owners visit!) Craigslist is truly the bottom of the barrel. That is why most rescues refuse to post there.


Below is  some info. you will find helpful. The info. is organized under separate headings to make it easy to access, as you scroll down. This is what I have learned in 20 years of rescue. Following the rehoming tips will make you  much able to screen out homes that may not work well in the long run for your dog.

- why Craigslist says you should ALWAYS charge a fee for the safety of your pet.

-rehoming tips you have not thought of.

-free help from nonprofit rescue groups may be available. Why they can do an excellent job of screening homes and providing a lifetime safety net for your dog.

 How a rehoming fee protects your pet:


Please don't compromise on your rehoming fee since 'free to good home' ads are strongly discouraged by the Richmond Times Dispatch, Craigslist, and all animal rescue groups. The reason is that they encourage people who:


1. get a dog on a whim. It is a serious responsibility that spans 10-15 years or more. Charging at least $60 makes people stop and think. Small purebreds should be at least $150 if they under age 7. Otherwise, they are subject to resale for more money- no matter what the adopter tells you about giving them a forever home.


2. get a dog even though they cannot afford vet care, etc. Dogs are not cheap. If a family cannot write a check for $60 for a new pet, they have no business getting a dog. What will happen when he gets an ear infection, etc?


3.get free dogs and use them for pitbull bait.


4. get free dogs and , when they get a bunch, sell them for research. They are called bunchers.


5. are puppy mills  and get unspayed purebreds to live as breeders neglected in a cage for the rest of their lives.


6. are people like Lynne W. in Varina and Frederick Cooper in Richmond get free dogs and then sell them to all comers. Lynne sells them at Richmond area flea markets for about $50. Wright sells them out of his residence near Woodman Rd. (He may have moved.) He likes small dogs- mixed or purebred. Ijust got an email from a Craigslist poster that he is now using an alias  ( Jason) & has moved off Brook Rd. See why a home visit is important? An adopter said he had a bunch of dogs at his house waiting to be sold.

 She calls herself Over the Rainbow Rescue.  That is not what reputable rescues do.

7. are hoarders  who think they are helping dogs but cannot care for them since they have too many. They sound great when they talk to you since they truly love animals -but a home visit will reveal the deplorable conditions of the dogs and cats in their animal collections.


It's easy to keep all of the above from your door- charge a fee.

The following links are to articles that are extremely disturbing. But they highlight the risks of placing your animals into homes that you have not checked out. We all know times are tough, but please, at least do a home inspection and make a phone call to the vet before adopting your animals to just anyone. The previous owners of these dogs would probably be just devastated to know how they ended up.,0


Rehoming tips you have not thought of:


Ask to see the driver's license and copy down the address and name so you know

who has your dog. 


To check for a criminal record or animal cruelty convictions, go to You need to see their driver's license to be sure they are who they say they are.


Unless your dog is very small, have the first question you ask (in a conversational way): " Do you want an indoor or outdoor dog?" If the answer is outdoor, and you want your dog to be an indoor/outdoor dog, then that should be a deal breaker. Don't let them backtrack if they sense that their answer is not what you wanted to hear. They told you the truth the first time. Dogs  like dobies, bully breeds like pits, etc., Great Danes, poodles have no undercoat and should not be out in the cold for very long. Dogs with mushed faces like pugs and bulldogs should not be out either in  the heat or cold very long. Small dogs cannot generate enough body heat to stay warm in the cold.


Once people express an interest via email, email them to call you so you can hear their voice. Let them leave a complete message and then call them back. You can tell a lot by the way someone speaks.


Use a written application to guide you in what to ask. I can send you one that our rescue uses if you email me.


Lots of people in your position are afraid to be too pushy in asking questions because you are so happy that someone who seems half decent has called you about the dog. That's a huge mistake. People who are really good homes will be happy to answer your questions- and happy you care enough to ask! When people get defensive about answering your questions, that should be a big red flag.


People who are turned down by rescue groups turn to people like you to adopt because they know you don't really know what to ask, so the reason others didn't think they would be a good home will not be apparent to you. Below are some things to ask.


Get a tag with your phone number made for your dog and put it on her in case she gets away from them in her new home and they have not yet put a tag on her. This is very important.


Always get their landlord’s number and contact them to be sure a pet is allowed. Many adopters don’t bother to ask and then have to give up their pet! Several people have given a friend as a landlord but going on  ( in Chesterfield County) under Real Estate revealed who the real landlord was. You can also ask them to fax you a copy of  the lease . Look at their driver's license to be sure they are who they say they are.


Renters move much more than homeowners ,so your dog's situation is much less stable since a lot of places do not allow dogs. I like to adopt to stable situations.


Go visit home and family with the pet  BEFORE you adopt out. If it is seems like it will be a good home & family, take the pet on the weekend to get family and pet time to adjust to each other BEFORE the workdays begin. If they don’t allow a home visit, beware.


Always deliver your pet  to her new home. Otherwise, she is getting into a car with strangers and you don't know where she is going. People have actually lied to me about their address and when I went by to check on the dog later, there was no such place! Also, emotionally, your dog will feel better if she is delivered to her new place by someone she knows.


Please do not do third party adoptions. No one wants to be surprised by a new dog or get a dog that someone else picked out. These adoptions rarely work out. Also, you want to speak to the person who will own the dog so you can ask questions and determine whether they will be a good owner.


 Dogs need adequate exercise or many develop behavior problems and are returned to us. Leash walking isn't enough exercise for many dogs, so a fenced yard is best.


Get and check vet  if they have another dog. Are their pets up to date on shots? Are they on heartworm pills? What are they using for fleas?


 Where will the dog be all day while they are at work? Will the dog be overconfined in a crate? Crating for more than 4 hours is a bad idea for active young dogs- or even middle aged dogs.. Put yourself in the dog's place.


Is the dog well behaved enough to have the run of the house? If the dog will be outside, is the neighborhood safe or will kids taunt it? Is there a fenced yard? Is the fence at least 4ft. tall (lots of dogs are 4 ft. fence jumpers, so taller is better)? Walk the fence line and be sure there are no places where she can escape. Is there shade in the yard?


Will the dog be an indoor outdoor dog or outside and in the garage all the time? That's not okay since she will want to be a full member of the family. Backyard dogs are often lonely and the heat and cold are uncomfortable.


If there is no fence, be cautious. A rope run does not give a dog enough exercise. A dog pen doesn't either.

A  dog younger than age 5 needs a chance daily to 'run like the wind'. Also, people without a fence don't always want to be bothered to leash walk every time a dog has to pee. Si, if they are getting ready for work, they will let a dog out the door, thinking she will come back. That works until the dog gets hit by a car.


Also, even if they live in the country and have a lot of acreage, a fence is still needed. No one but Lassie stays around the house. Even with 500 acres and a quarter mile from the road resulted in 2 of our foster dogs getting killed on the road. Rural areas also have issues with hunters being a danger to unfenced dogs.


 If the people have another dog, introduce them on the street, not on the dog's property. Take a 5 minute walk together so the dogs meet that way.


 Does their dog get just dry food -or also canned? What quality food is being fed? It matters to the dogs and will give you some insight into the dog's quality of life. Cheap food results in medical conditions that people who cannot afford good quality dogfood also cannot afford to treat. www.dogfoodadvisor rates dogfoods.


 Is the home stable? Students and people in their early 20s are usually in transition. They move around, get jobs in other cities, and have life changes so that making a 15 year commitment to a dog and putting that dog's welfare first makes no sense.


 Lots of kids bug their parents for a dog that the parents don't really want. But they finally give in. They get a dog but the kids quickly tire of the dog. Now mom has to do all the feeding and walking she didn't want to do in the first place. They can't 'get rid of' the dog because the kids will be unhappy so they chain it to a doghouse in the back of the yard where it is pretty much ignored. I have seen this over and over, so be sure that the parent wants the dog. If a parent says, "The kids want a dog", that is a huge red flag!


 Will the dog have the run of the house or will her spot be only the utility room or family room. This is a red flag!


Do ALL members of the home want this dog. Many times the mom and kids do- but they had to talk the dad into it. This is not a good scene for the dog- who will catch that negative vibe. We make sure to talk to all family members when we do the home visit.


 What has happened to ALL the pets the family has had in the last 5 years? Did they give them away because they were moving? Did any of them get run over by a car or just get lost? If so, what were the circumstances?


 What methods have they used to train or discipline dogs in the past? What is their philosophy? This tells you a lot about them.


 Also be cautious of people who want a guard dog or a dog for protection. Where are they living? What is their lifestyle?


Ask applicants if their pet is on heartworm preventative. If so, ask them to tell you the name of it. Don't let them tell you they don't recall the name. This is a monthly preventative. Many people who use CL do not have their dog on preventative- and if that dog is spending time outside and a mosquito carrying heartworm can bite the dog- then that person either does not stay in regular touch with a vet, is not as responsible an owner as  he could be, or cannot afford heartworm preventative. Since heartworms are a major killer of dogs, to me this would be a huge red flag.


If you have puppies to rehome, don't ever UNDERestimate the expected adult weight. So many people are surprised at how big their pup grew and give the pup up because he 'grew too big'. Even mixed puppies with smallish parents have recessive genes that can make them grow much larger than expected.


Many insurance companies do not want to insure homes if there is a certain breed of dog living there. The breeds vary with each company but usually include pitbulls and rottweillers- but may also include German Shepards and other breeds. It's best to have people check before they adopt since this is a reason why people give their dogs up once they find out they may have trouble with their company or with finding a new company. 


Please know that being a hunting dog is not a good deal for most dogs who live in outdoor pens year round, are kept hungry so that they hunt well, and are frequently abandoned (or worse) if they don't hunt well.


    How a reputable nonprofit rescue can help you at no charge to you:


Often, when the average owner tries to select a home, they often give too much information to applicants ( who them just tell owners what they want to hear), they cannot tell when an applicant is telling the truth, and don't know what questions to ask. It is hard to judge a person in a brief conversation and a brief visit. Once you have a conversation with a person, no matter what he tells you, he does what he wants with the dog once he drives off. You have absolutely no recourse.


A rescue group will not charge you to help, but they will also not pay for a dog. They will get a written application from all interested adopters, they know what questions to ask to assure that a home will work out in the long run. They'll call all references, so an in depth interview, do a home visit, and adopt the dog with a contract that gives them the legal right to visit the dog and get him back if the contract is not followed. The contract also says that the dog must be returned to the rescue if the dog is ever given up. This provides the dog with a big lifetime safety net. 


 Purebred dog rescues will take in close mixes. Find them by googling the breed name and your state  ( yorkie rescue, Va.). They will usually take your pet and put him or her into a foster home, unless you want to foster till adoption. Other rescues, like those below can sometimes foster, too, if they have foster space available. If not, they will work with you while the dog stays in your home.


If you are near Richmond:  Henrico Humane Society, AARF, Odessa, Angel Dogs, ADRATI, BARK, Richmond Animal League are all reputable, local nonprofit rescues who are experienced screeners and can tell a good long term home much better than the average person can. Their emails are:,,,, Check out their websites. If you email them, send a picture and all info. about your dog, including how well they get along with dogs, cats, kids, and strangers.


Say whether they are up to date on rabies or distemper shots and have had a recent heartworm test. None of these are deal breakers, but it helps each group to have a complete picture.


 They do get a lot of requests for help and cannot help everyone so the best way to get their attention is to personally go to their weekly Saturday adoption stand with your dog and his medical records ( if you have any) and ask them to help you. Since rescue groups don't have a lot of money and their foster homes are usually full with pound dogs they are trying to save, they are much more likely to say YES to working with your dog  if it has all medicals done (has rabies and distemper shot, is spayed, and has had a recent heartworm test showing it is heartworm negative) and you can foster till adoption if they have no  foster space at the time. 


Ask for help even if the above is not true, but if all medicals are done and, more importantly, you can foster till adoption and bring the dog to adoption stand- let them know that up front!!!


They can let you show the dog at their weekly adoption stand, so the public can meet him/her and fall in love. They will also post for you on a place where nonprofits post and people expect to be carefully screened- unlike the people on Craigslist who hate for you to ask any questions and don't see the value to the dog of careful screening. They will also help you screen the home, do the home visit, and the dog will get adopted with their contract- and all the legal protections that come with it.


Good luck to you. Lots of people want dogs for the wrong reasons. The quality of this dog's life for the next  years depends on you making smart and compassionate choices for him now.

Carolyn Simpson

Animal Adoption and Rescue Fdtn. (