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How to sell a pet responsibly

We understand things can get difficult when you’re looking after a pet. Situations can change, and often pet owners may find it impossible to keep their pet at home.

While rescue centres are here to help, some owners cannot bring themselves to put their pet into a rescue centre/kennel situation where their future will be decided by strangers, and some dogs also find kennels extremely stressful.

Please be aware that as of the 6 April 2020, Lucy’s Law came into practice, a legislation which bans the third-party selling of puppies and kittens under 6-months old. 

Many rescues will not take in pets with serious behavioral issues, or want to house too many dogs of the same breed type, which might concern some pet owners. You should always try contacting a rehoming centre first, and although they may not be able to take your pet in straight away, it’s worth it to protect the future of your pet. If you’re worried about your pet being in a shelter environment, Woodgreen can find them a new owner whilst they stay with you – as well as having a network of foster carers who care for pets in a home environment.

If selling your pet still seems like the option for you, here’s a few questions and considerations to think about before getting started.

Dogs

  • Prior to advertising, it is best to ensure that your dog is neutered so that it cannot be used for breeding.
  • Be sure to ask questions regarding what the dog’s daily routine would be – does it match what the dog has already? Is it an improvement?
  • Will your dog be compatible to live with any other dogs, cats, or small pets in their new home?
  • Does your dog need a secure garden? If so, we recommend asking to see pictures of the garden in the potential new home.
  • How long will the new owners be leaving the dog home alone? Is the amount of time acceptable?
  • If possible, it’s best to ask for proof of address.
  • If your dog has an ongoing medical condition, you must let a potential new owner know as this can lead to financial concerns.
  • Are you in a position to take your dog back if it doesn’t work out during the first few weeks?
  • Are the new owners happy to keep in touch and give you updates?
  • It is always advisable after the first meet to give the potential new owners a ‘cooling off period’ to ensure their commitment.

Please be aware that a number of dogs that enter rescues are dogs that have originally been purchased online, but the rehoming unfortunately hasn’t worked out.

Cats

  • Prior to advertising, it is best to ensure that your cat is neutered to prevent breeding or unwanted litters in the future. Neutering also reduces the risk of fighting, wandering, and lowers the risk of many viruses.
  • Is your cat able to live with other animals? Do you know if they have had any negative experiences with other animals that may affect them in another home?
  • Is your cat used to living with children? If it is known that your cat has had problems in the past and has shown aggressive type behaviours to children, the new owners need to be aware and suitable judgement made.
  • Is your cat used to having outdoor access or may require outdoor access in the new home? For many cats, restricting outdoor access can lead to them being unhappy and having behavioural problems.
  • Are there any ongoing medical issues with your cat? The new owners need to be aware of these and the potential financial increases that may occur.
  • Are you able to take the cat back if the new home doesn’t work out during the first few weeks?
  • It is always advisable after the first meet to give the potential new owners a ‘cooling off period’ to ensure their commitment.

Small pets

  • Prior to advertising, it is best to ensure that your small pet is in good health. Rabbits, ferrets, and male guinea pigs should be neutered prior to rehoming to prevent them being used for unnecessary breeding.
  • Many of the small pet species prefer to live with a companion of the same species. For example, rabbits should be in neutered pairs. If your pet is currently living on its own, consider a new owner who can responsibly pair up your pet you are rehoming to avoid them being on their own for any longer. Many rescue centers offer a mixing service for most small pets.
  • Don’t offer your small pet for free. Whilst there can be many well-meaning new owners keen to take on your pet, some can have ill intentions such as feeding reptiles live food, which is illegal in the UK.
  • If you are selling your pet without accommodation, always ensure the new owner can provide adequate space with plenty of enrichment. Feel free to talk to Woodgreen or your local rescue regarding advice on recommended enclosure sizes, and ask to see photos or visit the new owners facilities first to ensure it is as they say it is.
  • Does the new owner have existing pets, and do they have experience with these species? Remember that many of small pets are prey species and can find living alongside species such as cats and dogs very stressful.
  • Some of the small pet species can live for up to 20 years, require regular vaccinations and regular general health checks. Are they aware of this, and are they able to commit to the pet’s needs?
  • If possible, it’s best to ask for proof of address.
  • If your pet has an ongoing medical condition, you must let a potential new owner know as this can lead to financial concerns or unknown suffering to the pet.
  • Are you in a position to take your pet back if it doesn’t work out during the first few weeks?
  • Are the new owners happy to keep in touch and give you updates?
  • It is always advisable after the first meet to give the potential new owners a ‘cooling off period’ to ensure their commitment.

Please be aware that a number of small pets that enter rescues have originally been purchased online, but the rehoming unfortunately hasn’t worked out.

Looking for more advice?

If you are still concerned about giving up your pet, we are happy to have a chat with you and provide you with the best advice and options to consider. Please contact us here, or call us on 0300 303 9333 (option 2).

The Green Room podcast

In episode two, we explore the pros and cons of buying and selling pets online, and discuss the popular ‘adopt don’t shop’ debate.

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