Rehoming animals and "free to good home" ads

Is free to a good home a good idea? We discuss the options open to animal owners who have to re-home a pet.

Sometimes placing an ad for dogs, cats, puppies, kittens or other pets can be hard to do. How do you know you are doing everything right? One of the concerns is what price to put in your ad. And so, many people, meaning the best say that the animal will be “free to a good home”.

Why people place "free to a good home" ads

This makes obvious sense if you have to give up a loved pet through your own changing financial circumstances, emigration, allergic reaction, a move to unsuitable living space, or due to the behaviour of the animal around a child or baby. It can also be difficult to put a price on an animal if you're "not in it for the money" or the animal you reluctantly have to give away is "priceless" to you.

Best of intentions

People who place ads for animal “free to a good home” have big hearts. They’re going to the effort of re-homing an animal rather than sending it to a rescue centre or pound that is already under pressure, or having it put down.

Alternatives to “free to a good home” pricing

If you don’t want to put a price on your pet, there are ways you can do good by charging a fee for the animal you want to re-home.

Sometimes, they say that people don’t put a value on things they get for free. You can charge a new owner a price without profiting.

  • Donate the proceeds from the sale of the animal straight to charity.
  • Put the money you receive towards any vets bills.
  • Pay a rescue centre to do a home visit.

How to check your animal is being given to “a good home”

Being put in the position of rehoming a dog is a heartbreaking situation, so make it easier on yourself by having no regrets and doing thorough research.

Rumours abound that animals that are rehomed from “free to a good home” ads are resold for profit, could be baited and could run away because they’re scared.

It’s the seller’s responsibility to ensure they’ve done everything they possible can to ensure they have chosen a good home for the animal.

Here are steps you can take:

Read about responsible ownership

We’ve put together a number of guides on responsible pet ownership. Read these to understand what questions you can ask a buyer.

Ask the buyer questions

Regardless of how much you’re selling your animal for or you’re giving it away for free, you can check that it is genuinely going to a good home.

Breeders do this the whole time. Any reputable breeder will want to make sure that the pups or dog they are selling is going to a good home and will ask about the buyer, buyer’s lifestyle and where they will be keeping the new pup. The first question to ask is "why?".

Our advice to buyers is that they visit the home of the seller to check out the conditions. If you really want to send your animal to a good home, return the compliment. Whatever you do, don’t do the deal at a neutral location.

Ask who the animal is for

  • getting an animal as a present is a bad idea
  • will this person have the time, money and living space to provide for the pet properly
  • check is the temperament of the animal compatible with children

Visit the “good home”

  • do they have the right set up indoors/outdoors for the animal?
  • what's your gut feeling?