Rabbit and Pocket Pet Education
I need to place my pet(s) in a new home, what do I do?
Did you adopt this pet from Rabbit & Pocket Pet Education formerly known as Angela's Rabbit Adoptions?
Please note that while this article is geared towards rabbits, much of the information applies to guinea pigs, chinchillas, hamsters, rats and mice as well.
Why do I have to read this? I just want to drop my pet off at your rescue!
This article contains honest, realistic & sometimes blunt scenarios of what can happen to your pet if placed in various ways (schools, pet stores, dog pounds). This article tries to show the pros and the cons of the most common placement options. Sadly, because there are not always pros to be found when dealing with these options, the cons can leave you with disturbing images that can be upsetting to responsible pet owners who are unable to keep their pets.
If you are ready to learn ways to place your pet on your own, please read on...
You might notice that in this article, we do not use the words "get rid of". We "get rid" of trash or items that have no worth. As living beings, every living breathing creature has worth! We know that 90% of you reading this feel your rabbits or small pets are worth more than the trash!
By using the word re-home when discussing placing your pet, you help people looking to bring your pet into their household understand that you value him or her. Saying, "get rid of" could lead someone to believe you really don't care what type of home your pet goes to since you simply want to "make the pet go away". In short, the phrase "re-home" can discourage the sort of people you would not feel comfortable placing your pet with.
When talking to potential new owners, be honest with people regarding why you must re-home your pet. Emphasize the good points, but don't "forget" to warn someone that the pet needs to be watched around the wallpaper, doesn't like children or might be pregnant. Honesty is going to help your pet find a loving new forever home. Dishonesty could mean the pet is placed with a new owner who is resentful and wants to find a new home for him or her. Resentful people could send your pet to one of the bad options below that you yourself avoided.
This is a long article. It's long because we don't have an easy answer for you if you need to re-home your pet. There is no "easy out" in pet re-homing, except leaving your pet at the dog pound/animal impound center without trying other methods first or having your vet euthanize the pet for you, again without trying other methods first. Finding a pet a new home takes time, more time than the 15-20 minutes you will spend reading this article which explains some of the most common options available to you.
To get started, decide why you need to re-home your pet.
Is it because of behavioral problems that could be fixed? You are moving and don't know how to move with a pet? Or another reason?? One of the top ten reasons for re-homing a pet is the owner doesn't feel as if they are spending enough time with the rabbit!
Often, the owner is simply feeling guilty for no reason, they are, in reality, spending a great deal of time with the rabbit! Or perhaps work has gotten busy on a temporary basis. We find that this is too often the case! In all the frantic feelings of being overworked or overstressed, it's hard to remember there is an end to this. Working more or being stressed is a normal part of everyone's life. The new owner is going to experience these times also. Once the owners realize that they really are very good pet owners, they often find they can keep their pets, guilt free.
Your pet is better off with you if at all possible. Pets suffer when they go to new homes. They experience confusion and terror at being moved out of their familiar surroundings with new people. The best home for your pet is yours.
There are usually solutions to many of the reasons people have for feeling they need to place their pets.
Most problems we hear about can be solved if the person needing to place the rabbit would be willing to try to work out the problems. Rabbits are not throw away pets but they are often "thrown away" because their owners quickly become frustrated without the proper knowledge and/or equipment needed to deal with the problems that come up. Without all the pieces to the "puzzle", it's frustrating!
That cute Easter or Christmas bunny isn't so cute when he or she is destroying the furniture, biting, pooping on the couch, humping the cat or when reality sets in and you realize that the kids just aren't mature enough for the responsibility of a pet. Who wants a pet who is frustrating? No one!!
If you are having behavior issues like the above, that you are willing to work to resolve, please e-mail us and let us try to help you find a way to keep your pet(s).
In the email about the behavioral problem, be as honest and accurate as you can about what the pet is doing that needs to be changed. Be sure to note what you have done to try to resolve the problem so that we can try to come up with suggestions to help you keep your pet.
If it turns out to not be possible for you to keep your pet due to insurmountable problems, on to the next step...Remember though, if you have a pet who is a biter, destroying your house or just not friendly, you are going to have to do some work to help fix these problems before placement. A pet who has medical problems is going to need to be taken to the vet before placement. We are happy to give advice on the best way to get your rabbit or other pet on the road to being adoptable.
The first step to rabbit re-homing is this. Answer this question. Where did you get your pet from?
If it was a pet store, skip over this section and go straight to the next.
If you recently found the rabbit as stray, skip over this section and go here.
If you got your rabbit from a rescuer (private or organization), call them FIRST! Let them know what is happening and that you are looking to place the pet.
If you adopted from a rescuer, you most likely signed a contract stating the rabbit must go back to them. Be aware that rescues are often full, so you might have to wait before the rabbit is taken in by them so call them as soon as you think you might need to re-home the rabbit!
If you purchased the pet at a pet store, or purchased them from Craigslist, or another ad service, you are out of luck in most cases. Most pet stores don't want rabbits back. Pet stores are usually not a good option even if they will take the pets back. You can read below for more reasons why this is true if you desire, under "not so great options". Follow the regular directions for placing your pet.
Stray pets present their own problems... First, you must to determine if the pet belongs to someone. Even if you feel that is highly unlikely that an owner will come forward, you need to call your local animal shelter, and ask what the laws regarding stray animals are. You simply cannot give away a "found" pet to someone without trying to find the owner in most cases. If you have to take the pet to a kill impound center, plan on bailing him or her out if the owner doesn't return. This way you can ensure the pet isn't euthanized, aka put to sleep. After you have brought the pet home, you will follow the rest of this article.
As sad as is it, animals are considered personal property, much like a car. If you noticed a car parked in front of your house with the keys in it for a week or two, you could not legally give that car to a friend! You would have to follow the rules to try to find the owner of the car. It's the same with a pet. Taking a pet that does not belong to you could be labeled theft.
As a responsible rescue, we will not take a stray pet until it has been taken to the animal impound center to wait for the owner to have a chance to reclaim the pet first. We could be sued by the owner or even jailed for theft in some areas for not following stray animal laws. You could potentially be sued for theft as well. Please don't take this chance while trying to be a Good Samaritan. Check with your local animal control agency to find out the laws in your area.
If you choose to keep the pet at your house and look for the owner, be aware that if the pet is injured, you must provide prompt Veterinary attention. If you are unable to afford veterinary care, please take the pet to the local animal shelter or humane society. Rabbit & Pocket Pet Adoption is unable to fund veterinary bills for animals not in our foster program.
If you need help capturing a stray rabbit, visit the following articles Rescuing A Stray Rabbit and How to Conduct a Stray Roundup.
Go to Finding a home for an unwanted rabbit and read what it tells you about placing your rabbit on your own.
It can take several weeks to several months to place your rabbit or small pet. The time it takes is going to depend on many factors including health, age, temperament and the number of good homes available in your area.
You are going to need to work with your rabbit to make them more adoptable. It's best to have your rabbit spayed or neutered if it is not already done. Take a look at Where Can a Bunny Find a Home? for more information. Please remember that finding your rabbit an indoor home is your best option. To know what questions to ask a prospective new owner, visit Guidelines for Sale or Give-Away of your Companion Animal. These guidelines are geared towards dogs and cats, but you can modify them to apply to rabbits or other small pets.
There is always the option of boarding if you can't keep your rabbit or small pet with you until a new home can be found.
Yes, it costs money, but, it's still an option that is open to you. Some vets will board them, as will some cat boarding kennels and rabbit rescues. You would have to check your town for the options. This is not the best option for most people because it can be costly long term, but it's preferable to many other options. These places usually require an upfront deposit. Perhaps a friend or co-worker could board the bunny at their house for you until you either find a new home, or are in a better situation to keep the rabbit on your own?
We are often asked the following question, "Do you know of another rescue that can take my rabbit or pocket pet?"
Our answer? "Rescues are usually full. There are so many unwanted rabbits for the rescues to handle. We wish we knew of a rescue that wasn't full 99% of the time so we could network to help the rabbits. Check our links page for rescues in your area and contact them, there might be one with space when you call, but you are most likely going to be put on a long waiting list."
Remember, many rescues will only take pets directly from animal impound centers. Please be respectful of this rule. Your pet is at your house, safe, not hours away from dying at the impound center. Your call might get your pet on a waiting list or you might find that someone just called looking for a pet like yours. Or, if the rescue has adoption events, you might be allowed to bring your spayed or neutered rabbit or pocket pet.
Network, network, network. Talk to vet clinic staff, ask them if they know of rabbit rescuers, they might know of an individual who takes in just a few rabbits at a time. They might know of a person who is seeking a rabbit or pocket pet. Having your rabbit spayed or neutered and socialized can greatly increase the chances of your rabbit finding another home.
Want to see how many rabbits and pockets pets we are typically asked to take in? This can help you understand why many rescues are saying "we are full" when you call or won't even call people back who are looking to place a pet. It's because they are honestly full. The number of calls and emails each day asking for assistance with unwanted pets can be overwhelming.
We are also asked, "What about your friends and co-workers? Don't they want a great rabbit?" With the 3100+ rabbits we have been asked to help in the time we have been rescuing, we have run out of friends and co-workers who are seeking rabbits, no matter how great they are. We do the same thing you do with our adoptable rabbits. We network, network, network.
***We have set up a place to list your rabbit on your own***
You can go to Rabbits for adoption and put the information about your rabbit on this message board. Make sure to include your city and state. This will help spread the word that your rabbit is looking for a new home. We refer people to this site to look for rabbits for adoption. You can also post your rabbits or other pets who need new homes at Petfinder.org in the classifieds area.
List your rabbit as many places a possible. The more places with the information, the better the chances that a good home is going to be found. It's well worth the extra work. Network, network, network. It usually takes more than just "asking friends" to get the rabbit placed. Take pictures of the pet and make up flyers to place at vet clinics in your area. (Area within an hour's drive or farther if you are willing to drive the pet farther) Be sure to emphasis the rabbit's good points!
When you are talking to people, please, be a little leary of those who "want a pet for their kids." If you at any time get the feeling that the parents do not want the pet, or not interested in a pet or don't intend to spend time caring for the pet, you might want to keep looking. Sadly, the majority of rabbits and pocket pets people try to turn over to rescues were orginally purchased "for the kids" when the parents weren't prepared for the responsibility. That might even be why you are seeking a new home for this pet, so you already found out the hard way.
As hard as it is to turn down a home, please turn them down because the likelihood of the pet ending up needing a new home again is very likely. If the entire family wants the pet, this is a better option. Remember, teenagers turn into adults and then into college students, so again, be sure that the entire family is looking for a pet, not just a teenager. Too often "going off to school" is a reason given for giving up the family pet. Even pets like hamsters who do not live more than 3 years are turned into animal impound centers and rescues because the "kids get bored" or "start college".
Talk to the potential adopters about where they want to keep the rabbit. Inside is far better over outside. Are they going to put the rabbit in an unsafe situation? Obviously, other small pets should never be housed outside either! Ask about any other pets they might have. (Un-obedience trained dogs who might not mean to hurt this rabbit but might accidentally, for instance!) Ask about other pets they have had in the past, what happened to these pets? (Did they die from being hit by cars, or turned over to the animal impound center or did they die from old age or a serious illness that a vet could not fix?)
Listen with your heart as well as your mind. Remember, you are deciding the pet's possible fate by placing him or her in a good home or a bad home. If this pet is to be a gift, insist on speaking with the person getting the gift. Many pets turned over to rescues were unwanted or unexpected gifts.
Does the person seem more interested in the cage than your pet? Are they asking questions about what your rabbit likes and dislikes or do they tell you "they have had rabbits before" and ignore your instructions? If you are giving the cage away with the pet, be aware that there are people who will take the pet to get the cage. They have no intention of keeping your pet, they just want the cage.
Be sure to ask an adoption fee of $20-30, more if your rabbit if altered. Free rabbits look good to people needing snake or people food or those wanting a rabbit on impulse. People who would take your rabbit for free, will often walk away if the rabbit isn't free.
Being desperate to find your rabbit a good home makes you vulnerable to people who would lie to you so check out their stories. Have them sign an adoption contract, check that their driver's license name/address matches what they filled out on the contract. We'll be more than happy to help and we have copies of a generic adoption contact that you can have them sign if you would like us to help you.
It is possible to place your rabbit on your own, but you need to be patient and willing to do the work to find a good home. In the end, you will have to make the decision who to place this rabbit with.
***Warning***, the following paragraphs list not so great options with descriptions of reasons why they aren't. These options include giving the rabbit to a school or pet store, turning the rabbit loose in the woods or a neighborhood (illegal and NEVER okay) or the animal impound center. (If you must turn your rabbit over to an animal impound center in an emergency situation, list that rabbit as many places as possible!! With rescues, with vet clinics, tell friend's, put ads in the paper. If you will send us as much information as possible about the rabbit and the impound center, including contact information, we'll list the rabbit on our website! Don't give up until the rabbit is adopted or euthanized. Maybe you will be able to find a person to help board or baby sit the rabbit at the last minute to give you a little more time to find a good home! Many adopters don't realize the rabbits are in the impound centers, make people aware!!)
Okay, continue to read if you wish, or you can skip over the next section which can leave you with disturbing thoughts. However, if you are seriously considering turning your rabbit loose, leaving him or her in a classroom setting or at a pet store, or a kill impound center, please, read on, you can click just on the links you are considering if you wish. It's very important that you understand why you should never do it, or what you need to be sure of before you do it. Your rabbit's well being depends on it.
***Warning! Honest, blunt, realistic scenarios ahead***
Rabbits can survive on their own, right?
Why can't you just leave them in the woods? Leaving your rabbit in a park, at a college, the local stables, in the woods or even just in a neighborhood with lots of kids, is NOT an option. First, it's called abandoning an animal and it carries a jail term and a fine if you get caught. Also, just because it looks like there are other rabbits there does not mean they are living happily! Stray rabbits has some information why rabbits aren't "better off turned loose". Be sure to read The Briar Patch Story, it's a story about what really happens to those rabbits!
We know of at least two places here in Southern Ca where the stray rabbits are being rounded up and killed by the people who own the property, not a good place to leave YOUR rabbit. In the places where rabbits aren't being rounded up and killed, they are infested with fleas, ear mites, fur mites, and are fighting each other causing wounds. Un-spayed females are giving birth to babies that become prey for neighborhood cats, coyotes, birds of prey, etc. They are also being killed by stray dogs, hit by cars and poisoned by angry neighbors. Not a great life and we hope it's not the life you choose to place your pet in!
We get called almost daily by people who find "stray" rabbits who were dumped by people who thought the rabbits would do just fine. The rabbits suffer because of the ignorance of their former owners. See Popeye's story for what happened to one abandoned rabbit! If this is your only option, take the rabbit to the animal impound center where the rabbit will at least be humanely euthanized (killed) if no one else wants to adopt him or her. A humane death is preferable to the suffering we continue to see on a weekly basis because of the ignorance of owners who think they are "doing the right thing" by releasing the rabbit into the "wild". For more information on "feral rabbit colonies", read the article Angela wrote for Valley Pet News.
Domestic rabbits do not live happily in the "wild" or turned loose in a park.
Speaking of animal impound centers, how about that option?
What happens to most of the rabbits in "kill" animal impound centers? If it's a Los Angeles area impound center, many are euthanized because there are not enough homes for them. Often these rabbits are simply sitting on "death row" waiting for their time to run out or a rescue to have space.
You would need to check with your own local impound center to find out what really happens to the rabbits who enter through the doors. Does the impound center make an effort to place them? Are there volunteers in there working with the rabbits? Are the rabbits housed in the dog room where they are forced to sit, terrified while dogs bark around them all day long?
They are often not a good place for rabbits to find a home so be aware that if you leave your rabbit there that the chances of a home being found are probably not the best. If you do leave your rabbit in a impound center because you have no other choice, put ads in the paper, tell friends, let rescuers know, post flyers with the impound center name and the impound number. Don't give up until the rabbit is placed in a new home or euthanized. There is always a chance of finding a home up until the last minute. Maybe you will be able to find a friend to board the rabbit for you at the last minute or ?? (BTW, you will probably have to pay a fee to bail the rabbit back out if you turn the rabbit over to the impound center.)
Every day, many, many dogs, cats, rabbits and other animals die in impound centers because people turned them over to the impound center or they got lost and never reclaimed. More die than find homes. The more overcrowded the impound center, the less chance they have. Many people don't search impound centers for rabbits so the rabbits are never even seen by potential adopters, this is why it's important to keep making people aware your rabbit is at the impound center!!!
Despite the problems with impound centers, and the fact that many rabbits are euthanized, there are worse ways to die than a gentle death at the hands of a person who cares enough to work at the impound center. Death at the impound center is better than being left in the wild, dumped with someone who didn't really want the rabbit or some of the other fates that some people think are "better".
How about giving your rabbit to a child's classroom?
Rabbits make GREAT classroom pets, right? Usually this is not the case. Please go to Classroom Rabbits - Why Not? to find out why it's not a good idea to turn your rabbit over to the school up the street! This same advice holds true for any pet.
If you do decide to give your rabbit to a classroom, be sure that the teacher wants a rabbit as a pet for the life of the rabbit, that the rabbit will be taken home on weekends, holidays and over the summer by the teacher, and NEVER sent home with the kids. (Inexperienced people/possibly resentful parents caring for the rabbit, often feeding improper food, not handling the rabbit correctly, not protecting the rabbit from the curious family dog, etc. A different place every weekend just adding to the stress the rabbit is already experiencing in the classroom...) It's best if you find a teacher who wants a rabbit who can spend a few days a week at the classroom and the rest at home.
Is the teacher going to be responsible for the rabbit? Great! Now, visit the classroom to see how noisy it is and be honest with yourself. If your rabbit is not very laid back and super social, a classroom is probably not the best place! Some rabbits do great in good classrooms, but most suffer from the noise, all the petting, etc. Ask what happened to any past classroom pets and listen with your heart as well as your mind.
A great combination can be found, but it's going to take hard work. You are not adopting to the classroom, you are adopting to the teacher. Keep that in mind when looking. Be sure that she or he is devoted to the rabbit. If the teacher refuses to name a person responsible for any medical bills, holiday care, etc, keep looking.
Not researching the school could mean a fate worse than death for the rabbit. We hear the stories of what happens to these "owned by the classroom pets" and the stories give me nightmares. They are "afterthoughts" and some are treated with less respect than the books. One teacher even asked us if we would give her a "tiny breed" of rabbit because she knew they "pooped less". She was tired of having to clean the cage once a week! (We turned her down politely, then we walked away horrified...how sanitary for the rabbit and the class to have a cage left uncleaned for over a week!)
Hey, what about a pet store?
If you call around, there might be one to take your rabbit or small pet! That's a good place for rabbits! Isn't it? Not for rabbits or any other pets!
People who purchase from pet stores often are unprepared to own a rabbit. It's an impulse buy, there is a cute pet who needs a home and the person thinks owning a cute pet is a good idea. A 10 year old child with money but without permission from the parents can walk in and purchase your pet. Their parents might not even want a new pet! New owners are often given incorrect information on pet care so they unknowingly take on a harder to handle pet than they expected. As a result, within a year, those rabbits often become part of the unwanted rabbit problem. You have no control over what type of person takes your rabbit home or how they will care for him or her once they get home. Your pet could be kept in an improper cage, ignored, and fed bad food. You have no control over what happens to your pet when you walk out of the store without him or her.
Remember this, older rabbits and other pets are harder to place than babies. Pet stores want to make a profit. Why are they going to keep your pet for many months trying to place him or her when they are losing money by feeding them?
This mean that if a pet store was to take older rabbits, these rabbits might become snake food or human food! People who own snakes purchase rabbits to feed their snakes from pet stores. Or, the next time the breeder comes in, the rabbit will be given to them to spend their lifetime making baby bunnies for resale. Month after month, in a small cage, no hay, no veggies, just making babies until they are too old to have any more. Not all pet store owners care where the pets go, as long as they sell, so ask careful questions. Some pet store owners assume that if you are dumping the pet at their store, you don't care what happens to the pet either. (Once you turn the pet over to the store, you give up all rights to where the pet goes!) Not a good option, in our opinion, but it's up to you to make that decision. Rats, even guinea pigs, mice and hamsters suffer the same fate as rabbits. They might sell them to someone seeking snake food, or even feed them to a reptile at the store. There are no laws protecting your pet from becoming food for a reptile or a person..
If you decide to leave your pet at the pet store, call first to find out if they sell pets for snake food, and if they have snakes. Also ask what happens with rabbits who do not sell.
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It all boils down to this...
Placing a pet you cannot keep is not an easy thing to do. We wish we had a better answer. It takes work and commitment to find a new home for a pet. It is probably not going to happen overnight so you need to be prepared for that. There just isn't a magic wand that finds good homes.
Good luck and if you need more suggestions or would like us to help you network finding a home, please fill out our re-homing questionnaire. As time permits, we are happy to help screen people interested in adopting your rabbit or small pet. If they are spayed or neutered or you are willing to allow them to be spayed or neutered at the new owner's expense, we will list them on our website.
To view pictures of homeless animals and help save a life, please visit Petfinder.org