Recently in my facebook decluttering group a question was brought up: what to do when you need to rehome a pet?
I would never recommend “decluttering” a pet. I don’t believe that is something we should consider when embracing minimalism. Our personal family dog and a cat bring much joy and companionship and I believe as pet owners, it’s our responsibility to make sure they get the love and care that they need.
But there are situations in life, when we find we are unable to give them everything they need, whether it be attention, exercise or, yes, even love.
For these animals, it is love that can drive the change. No doubt it is difficult for them to understand when they are displaced and find themselves in a new home, but there are times when finding them a new home is the best option.
If you are to the point where you feel resentful of your pet, please do not keep them out of guilt. If you are not loving them and giving them the attention they need, that is unfair to them and they deserve a home where they will get that love and attention.
When does being a good pet guardian mean choosing not to be a pet guardian anymore?
I have a friend who got a dog to help her special needs child, it was definitely a good thing in the beginning, but as the little aussie grew, he began herding the children and nipping at their heels. Being a single mom of 3, she didn’t have the time to devote to training him, nor the financial ability to to have someone work with him. He spent most of his days locked up in the garage with his kennel. She had incredible guilt at the thought of getting rid of him, because she had been taught that pets are for life. Finding him a new home meant setting her personal view on it aside, for his best interest. It took many interviews and several overnight stays, but now he’s with a loving home that enjoys him.
When looking at estate help with older family members, it’s important to make sure their animals are cared for. Is the person able to give them exercise, remember to feed and water them, and clean up after them? Sometimes daily care is challenging, and though difficult to face and work through, it’s very important to address and advocate for the care of these companions.
When children are born into the family, sometimes the animals in the home just don’t do well with little ones. If you are not able to monitor all interactions, it’s important to consider how to handle that situation. It’s not fair to the animal to lock them away, nor is it fair to them to allow them to be crawled on and not given space. It’s possible to teach children to not touch the animal in certain spaces (our dog’s bed is her sanctuary, the children have been taught to leave her alone when she is there), but to avoid “accidental bites”, be sure that the animal feels safe in home, as well as your children’s safety.
There are loving people who will rescue animals, which is a wonderful and caring thing to do. But there does come a point when there are too many animals to care for and the home isn’t healthy for the person, or the animals.
Just like with our human family, there can be personalities that don’t mesh well. Some people know that they can’t spend more than a couple hours with another family member or conflict arises. We work around these differences, often with limiting contact, even though we do love that person. If an animal’s personality clashes with a human family member, it’s just as important to note.
There are often financial situations that come up- losing a job, having to relocate, having to care for elderly relatives. Each time we have major life changes, we need to make sure our companions are going to adjust and do well in the new situations.
Questions to ask yourself before re-homing your pet:
- Do I need to spend more quality time with them? Often times we can be annoyed with an animal because we haven’t taken time out to really be with them. Set aside a couple hours to play with them, go for a walk, take them to the park, etc. Just like human relationships, we often times don’t realize how much we enjoy being with a person until we spend quality time together.
- Do they just need a walking buddy? Sometimes life happens and we can’t walk the dog every day. There are dog-walkers that we can hire, but there may be a single neighbor that is in need of an exercise buddy, without wanting the full responsibility of a pet. If you know someone that walks or runs everyday, they may feel safer with a furry friend by their side and be happy to fill that need.
- Do we need a break to re-evaluate our situation? Sometimes one can feel that they are just ready to be done with having pets- the hair, food and poop-scooping is frustrating and feels like a hindrance to actually enjoying companionship. Before completely rehoming, it may be good to take a month off. Many places offer foster homes for pets and a family will take care of them for you while you re-evaluate your feelings and experience what it really is like without your pets nearby. Let someone else care for your pets for a month, put away the food bowls and beds to see what life is like without them. You may find that you love them and need them more than you thought, and if by the end of the month you realize that they will be better loved and appreciated in another home, that’s ok. It’s important to take time to think through it without making a rash decision.
- Are they getting older and needing more care? Sometimes people enjoy an animal until they get into their senior years and need more care. It’s important to continue giving them the care and love they need. When you adopted them, it was understood that you would care for them for-better-or-worse, and that is something you need to follow through with. It’s important to give them a good quality of life as they age. To avoid resenting increased costs of care, build a set amount in your budget to cover those expenses so you are never caught off-guard.
How to re-home a pet:
If you come to the realization that re-homing your furry companion is unavoidable, take every action possible to insure they are safe and loved.
- Contact your breeder or local animal rescue for resources and suggestions.
- Check with close friends and family to see if they are looking to adopt a companion.
- Rehomeyourpets.com is a great resource- giving you a walk-through on how to go about listing your pet, what steps to take to interview and how to do as much as possible to insure the pet is safe.
- Often times a “re-homing fee” is recommended to deter people who either cannot afford the care of an animal, wish to “flip” the animals for income, or other bad situations. If you are giving your pet to a friend or family member, this isn’t always necessary.
- Interview! Ask lots of questions, if they have own pets in the past, as for the vet’s number and the groomers number, do a “meet & greet” at their home so you can see where your pet will be living. Consider a 3 week trial period (with contacting them after 48 hours) to make sure it’s a good fit before making it a permanent placement.
*A Note On Pets And Minimalism
Having pets is personal preference, it has very little to do with a minimalist philosophy. I have been asked a few times if letting pets go is “the next step in a minimalist journey”. But, I would say no.
Minimalism is letting go of superfluous items, so one can have more time to devote to things that bring them joy. This takes of different forms for each individual: travel, volunteer work, handicrafts, relationship building, reading and often times, pets.
Now, certainly, if you do not love your pet, it’s unfair to them to just be endured. But if you have animals, it’s good to revisit your reasons for getting them in the first place, as they are not an object that can simply be cast off, it’s important to take great care in any decision involving them.
Do you have helpful suggestions or re-homing resources? List them in the comments below.
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