Rehoming a Special-Needs Pet

Rehoming a special-needs pet like this black cat who has hearing difficulties can be challenging, but the tips in this resource can help.

If you need to give up your pet, we recommend that you make every effort to place your cat or dog directly into a new home. It is possible to place animals with even profound disabilities. It may take time and patience, but fortunately quite a few animal lovers are drawn to special-needs animals. In Pets with Disabilities: Helping Special-Needs Animals Get Adopted, Best Friends co-founder Faith Maloney talks about how these unique animals can work their magic on adopters.

Getting your pet ready for adoption

There are many strategies that you can use to find a new home for your pet. First, you'll need to get your pet ready for adoption. Here are some steps to help you do that:

  1. First, make sure your pet has had a thorough veterinary examination and is up-to-date on all vaccinations. Make sure you obtain a specific diagnosis and treatment plan for your pet. For example, if the animal has difficulty controlling elimination, obtain and write up specific information about what the animal can and can't do and the type of assistance needed. To find a good home, it's much better to be honest and up-front about the type of care an animal will need.
  2. If your pet isn't spayed or neutered, have it done. We don't recommend placing an animal who has not been spayed/neutered into a new home. Doing so can result in unwanted litters, and neutered animals are less likely to show undesirable mating behaviors, such as mounting or howling. Puppies and kittens as young as eight weeks old can be spayed/neutered. For more information, talk to your veterinarian. If you need to find a source of low-cost spay/neuter surgery in your area, check the SPAYUSA website.
  3. Take several good-quality digital photos of your pet. Make sure your pet is well-groomed, is looking at the camera, and can be seen clearly in the photos. If you don't have a digital camera, use a cell phone camera or whatever you have available.
  4. Write a good adoption "ad" for your pet. For some tips on how to write an appealing ad, read How to Write Pet Profiles in the Best Friends resource library.
  5. When contacting individuals or groups about your pet, it will help tremendously if you have a nice flyer to hand out. At, you can combine a photo of your pet and the adoption ad into a flyer by following the simple instructions. Plug in your contact information and the adoption ad, and upload a photo, and you'll have a very attractive flyer. You can save it as a digital file, which can be attached to emails and used for posting on social media websites, and you can also print out hard copies for posting around town.

Putting the word out

Once you have your pet ready for adoption, get creative and think of ways that you can spread the word. Here are some ideas:

  1. Post the flyer or information about your pet on social media sites, such as Facebook. Ask friends and family members to do the same.
  2. Put up flyers at your workplace, your church, your veterinarian's office - and other places where there's a public bulletin board. Be creative: If you have a blind pet, for example, post flyers at local optometrists' offices. If the pet is a senior, get information out to elderly housing and assisted-living facilities that allow pets.
  3. Contact all rescue groups and shelters in your area. Even if they can't take your pet, some groups will offer courtesy postings on their websites, or allow you to bring the animal to one of their adoption events. Some ways to find local rescue groups and shelters:
  4. Post information about your pet in the classifieds section on

Websites for special-needs pets

There are also some websites specifically for special-needs pets, and on a few of them you can post adoption information.

You can also post messages on the following Yahoo groups:

Some people are hesitant to publicize information about their pets because they fear that people who would treat the pet unkindly will respond. Remember, you are in control of your pet and where he or she is placed. Don't be afraid to ask for references and follow up on them.

Finally, for more information about screening potential adopters, and more ideas to help you rehome your pet, read Best Friends' guide How to Find Homes for Homeless Pets.