The dangers of ‘free to a good home’

DUE DILIGENCE: Make sure your pet will be safe if you give them up for adoption Picture: PIXABAY

You’ve no doubt seen the posters before, either pinned to a shop noticeboard, taped to a window or posted on social media: a picture of a cute looking animal, usually a dog or a cat, above the words “free to a good home”.

On the surface, it may seem rather harmless. People give up animals for adoption all the time, and what’s wrong with wanting to cut out the middleman?

Not everyone agrees, however.

“I don’t agree with ‘free to a good home’ [the practice] at all,” said Whistle and Wags owner Michelle Henning.

She’s not alone. The GO! & Express spoke to two other animal welfare organisations and the answers were the same: if you’re going to put animals up for adoption, do it through a shelter.

One of the main reasons given was that it’s not always clear that the home your animal is being sent to is actually good.

“It is a problem with just saying ‘pets to a very good home’ because the thing is where is that animal going to go?” said Sue Kriel, who runs the Pet Pals shelter in Wilsonia.

“A lot of the time when I see ‘kittens to a good home’ it worries me because some people might say ‘Let’s take the whole lot because we’ve got snakes that need food’.”

Kriel said that this wasn’t just a hypothetical but something she had actually encountered before, and it still worries her to this day.

Furever Homes, an organisation focused on pet-sterilisation programmes, said that ending up in a bad home could be highly traumatic for pets.

“Leaving the family they know can often cause trauma and finding the right fit can help to alleviate this. You also have to be careful not to rehome them into an unsuitable home,” they said.

Shelters perform rigorous background checks on potential adopters to ensure that the animals will be in good hands when they leave.

However, if you cannot go through a shelter, then Henning said it was imperative that you do the background check yourself.

“You need to go there [the home] yourself,” she said. “A home check needs to be done, a proper home check.”

A lot of the time when I see ‘kittens to a good home’ it worries me because some people might say ‘Let’s take the whole lot because we’ve got snakes that need food’

Henning said that anyone putting their animals up for adoption should visit the the adopter’s home themselves to see what sort of conditions the animal will be living in.

“If you can’t do it, we’ll do it but we can’t do it all the time,” she said.

There is also the issue of proper vaccination and sterilisation, which many ‘free to a good home’ transactions fail to account for.

Once again, this is why going through shelters is the better option.

“It’s better to come through us [animal welfare organisations] because we will vaccinate and sterilise the animals,” said Kriel.

Furever Home agreed, and said that rehoming organisations made sure that all their animals were properly fixed and vaccinated before giving them away.

All things considered, who you let adopt your pet is an important decision and should not be taken lightly.

“There are many terrible people who hurt and abuse animals and they target ‘free to good home’ animals,” said Furever Homes.

For more information, contact:

  • Whistle and Wags at 063-979-3431 or wwaf.animalfriends@gmail.com;
  • Furever Homes at 071-293-3063 or fureverfixed@gmail.com, or;
  • Pet Pals at 082-850-8935 or tessa@petpalsel.co.za.

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