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rescues  •  spays/neuters  •  saves lives  •  finds homes




















Re-homing Companion Animals

To Re-home, or Not    •   Got Allergies?   •   Don’t Abandon Your Pet!   •   Owner/Rescuer Re-homing Service    •   Prepare Your Pet for a New Home     •     What Makes a Good Home?    •   Advertise Wisely and Widely    •   Screen Prospective Adopters     •    Choose the Best     •    Re-homing Links

To Re-home, or Not

Photo: Sara the Himalayan cat

“We just bought a new couch.”        “I lost my job.”        “I’m pregnant.”        “We’re moving.”  

“Graduation is tomorrow.”        “I’ll be in the hospital for six weeks.”        “The allergist said to get rid of the cats.”  

“My grandfather has to move to a nursing home.”

Yep...we’ve heard ’em all. People relinquish companion animals for many reasons, a few are justifiably ethical, most are not. “Behavior concerns” kill more companion animals than any other cause of death.

If you must make a decision to relinquish an animal, remember that in acquiring one you were making a lifetime commitment to him. Even rescuers make a commitment for every animal they choose to rescue.

As the fox explained to Antoine de St Exupéry’s Little Prince:

People have forgotten this truth.

But you mustn’t forget it.

You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed.

If you are her caregiver, it REALLY IS your responsibility to find her a safe and loving new home.

Sorry to get preachy, but this happens more than you’d think... Animal advocates get sad-angry hearing folks say they need to “get rid of” their animal. Animals are not “things” to be rid of, as if they were trash.

So...Someone Said You’ve Got Allergies?

We hear this frequently. Some allergists in town have never been animal people and just can’t understand that a client might value living with their companion animal more than worrying about allergies. Please don’t be afraid to ask your allergist to work with you about treatment and keeping your animal companion.

If you really have a diagnosed cat allergy, that doesn’t mean you are allergic to every cat you’ll ever meet. Those of us who have been foster caregivers through the years have been exposed to 10-100 animals. That’s a lot of allergen. We’re happy to share our methods of meds and limiting allergens to a workable level.

Cat Allergies—the facts

Living with Cat Allergies—they can usually be controlled with standard allergy drugs

Living with Dog Allergies—they can usually be controlled with standard allergy drugs

Facts about Cat Dander & Allergies—what are they?

How to Live with Allergies & Pets—you can live with both

Allergic?—you CAN keep your cat

Don’t Just Abandon Your Pet!

Grafix: A sad Victorian cat

Every year in Johnson County, hundreds of animals die because they are left to fend for themselves.

With appropriate time and effort, you should be able to find your animal a new home. It is far more responsible to arrange for a dignified death at a veterinary clinic or animal shelter than to assume you are giving your pet “a chance” by abandoning him outside and “hoping for the best.”

Be sure to give the Iowa City Animal Care & Adoption Center and the Johnson County Humane Society an opportunity to help you.

Owner/Rescuer Re-homing Service (ORRS)

Although we rarely foster animals anymore, this is a way for owners/rescuers to feature animals to be re-homed on our web site.

As an example, cruise Castor’s page and read his story. Note how Renee describes Castor’s rescue. Then she gives her perception of his ideal home. She notes his likes and dislikes. And she rates his Confidence; Adaptability to Change; how well he Plays with Others; and his Activity Level.

You’ll also see examples of the kinds of photos we use.

After you prepare your animal to find a new home (see below), download our ORRS Form. It’s designed so you can select the text and copy it into a word-processing program (or your e-mail program). This allows you to type your responses and e-mail the completed form to us.

Fill this form out thoughtfully and carefully, since it will be uploaded to the page we create for your animal.

The Owner/Rescuer Relinquishment Form is a PDF file.
If you don’t already have Adobe’s Acrobat Reader, download it for free.
Graphic: Get Adobe Reader
Photo: Lynx, a feral cat, really

Take a number of high-resolution digital photos of your animal. Think “glamour shots” and remember that busy backgrounds are distracting. So throw a design-free blanket or sheet over the couch.

•  We need something for a “head shot” or portrait (leave the cropping to us) to appear on the “Meet the Animals” page.

•  Then take 5-6 photos that show the entire animal.

E-mail the photos and completed ORRS form to us and we will use your responses and photos to build a web page for your animal.

People who e-mail us with an interest in your animal will be referred directly to you.

Preparing Your Pet for a New Home

Be sure that your animal is in good health. Don’t even think about relinquishing her if she’s ill or has a persistent health or behavior problem before consulting with your veterinarian:  other options may be available.

Minimum Provisions for Adult Cats

•  spayed/neutered

•  current rabies vaccination

•  current distemper vaccination

•  negative feline leukemia/immunodeficiency virus test

Photo: Nicki the white and black cat
Photo: Mac the Westie

Minimum Provisions for Adult Dogs

•  spayed/neutered

•  current rabies vaccination

•  current distemper vaccination

•  negative heartworm test

Minimum Provisions for Kittens/Puppies

•  well socialized, weaned, and litter-trained (cats)

•  at least 10 weeks of age

•  plans made for litter spay/neuter followup

•  rabies vaccination at 3-4 months

•  first distemper vaccination at 6-8 weeks, second at 9-10 weeks, (third at 10-12 weeks—dogs only)

•  negative maternal feline leukemia/immunodeficiency virus test (cats)

•  plans made to spay the mother and neuter the father

Grafix: the best exercise for a cat is another cat
Photo: Felllini the long-haired grey kitten
Grafix: Victorian cat in a basket of flowers

Of course it’s to your animal’s advantage to be clean, well-groomed, and free of parasites (fleas, ticks, ear mites, intestinal worms, etc.).

Which room in your house is going to show your animal off to the best advantage? Think about how your animal behaves around strangers.

What Makes a Good Home?

You know your animal best, right, so what kind of environment would be ideal for him?

Make a list of specific assets and needs to consider, for example:  no small children, loves other cats, fenced-in yard, etc., as well as any special attributes he possesses.

Complete our Behavior Audit a file you can download and print. Then prioritize the list items to identify your minimum requirements.

The Behavior Audit is a PDF file.
If you don’t already have Adobe’s Acrobat Reader, download it for free.
Graphic: Get Adobe Reader

Advertise Wisely and Widely

Photo: Khaki the cat curled up asleep

Using your prioritized list, write a brief advertisement and place a classified ad:

•  Iowa City Press-Citizen   339-7355

•  The Cedar Rapids Gazette—Iowa City Edition   339-3160

•  Solon Economist (624-2233)

•  North Liberty Leader (624-2233)

In addition, consider making a poster for places you think potential adopters might see. And keep a copy of all the printed ads you place in newspapers and any flyers you post in case you need or want to work with us further.

Do NOT offer your animal “free to a good home.

These ads tend to attract persons who are not very committed. In addition, they make it easy for dealers to obtain animals for research or fighting.

Charge at least $15 to $30 for an adult animal and use the money to offset advertising and veterinary care, or donate it to your favorite animal charity.

Although people who charge an adoption fee may not get as many calls as those who advertise “free to a good home,” the calls they do receive are better ones. Marketing research shows that people believe they get what they pay for.

Photo: Punky the kitten

Screen Prospective Adopters Carefully

Photo: Holly the cat, looking at us

When potential adopters call, ask questions to see if what they have to offer meets the minimum requirements you have set for your animal’s new home. Remember that you are in charge of the conversation!

If the callers rent instead of own, tell them you’ll need verification that their lease specifically permits pets.

The Adoption Interview

•  When you invite potential adopters to meet your companion animal, give them plenty of time to interact.

•  Observe carefully—this is your best opportunity to notice body language, tone of voice and manner of speaking when addressing the animal, comfort level around and experience handling animals, parental advice to children, etc.

•  Answer questions fully and honestly—explain that your goal is to place your animal with the most responsible caregivers you can find—people who will offer a lifetime commitment.

•  Even if things go smoothly, do not let them take your animal immediately—explain that they and you need 24 hours to think it over. This “waiting period” discourages impulse adoptions.

•  If you suspect you’ll need more time to decide, mention that there are other persons interested who have scheduled a visit. Tell potential adopters you may want to do a home visit before or after the adoption (whether you intend to or not).

•  Don’t be afraid to say “no.” Remember that the whole point here is to find a good match.

Photo: Chloe the cat sitting on my desk
The Behavior Audit is a PDF file.
If you don’t already have Adobe’s Acrobat Reader, download it for free.
Graphic: Get Adobe Reader

If the Potential Adopter Already Has Animals

People acquiring an animal for a companion to a current pet usually have concerns about what happens in the event the animals don’t get along. We like our potential adopters to complete a Behavior Audit (a file you can download and print.) for each of their pets so we can try to find a complementary match of temperaments.

See our Adoption page for tips about how to introduce a new animal into a household. Please agree to take your animal back if things don’t work out in a reasonable length of time (usually 2-4 weeks is sufficient).

Once you and the adopter come to an agreement, be sure to exchange names, addresses, and phone numbers. Follow up the adoption with two or three calls during the first month.

How to Choose the Best Home

Evaluate potential adopters on the basis of

•  their responses to your questions

•  the “chemistry” of their interaction with your animal

•  the quality of the questions they asked you about your animal’s behavior and needs

•  the level of commitment they displayed

•  the overall environment you believe they would provide for your animal

•  your gut-level feeling about how safe (and happy) your animal would be with them

Photo: handsome Skeeter the cat
Photo: Gwenyth the cat

Items to Accompany Your Animal

•  the Behavior Audit you completed, describing your animal’s background and attributes

•  a pillowcase from your bed (to be returned) with your scent to help in the transition

•  a few days worth of your animal’s current food (and litter)

•  favorite toys

•  any current medications and your animal’s medical records

Rehoming Links

Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center

Petfinder’s Shelter & Rescue Groups

Witty Kitties—a local shelter for special-needs cats and exotic reptiles

Grafix: a forlorn looking cat

Toxoplasmosis: learn the facts—good ideas from HSUS

Last update: 07/15/19.1111pm


Contact Us at

JCHS  •  P.O. BOX 2775  •  IOWA CITY, IA  52244-2775

NOTE that we are a small group of volunteers, most of whom work during the day. We will get back to you as soon as we can.



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