Not that long ago, you were thrilled
to have a Chow puppy of your very own. You never dreamed you'd have to
give him up someday. Even if you can't keep him any more, your dog
still depends on you to do what's best for him, just like he depended
on you when he was a puppy. Now, more than ever, he needs you to make
the right choices for his future.
Throughout this booklet, we're going
to be direct and honest with you. Your dog is your responsibility.
He has no one else but you to look out for his interests. It'll take
effort, patience and persistence to find him the right home. He
deserves your best efforts.
Finding a new home involves
several steps. Before you start, there are some important things you
......about Animal Shelters.....
Shelters and humane societies were
created to care for stray and abused animals. They weren't meant to be
a drop-off for people who don't want their pets anymore. Shelters, on
average, take in 100 new animals or more each day. Let's face it -
there won't be enough good homes for all of them. Even the best
shelters can't boast much more than a 50% adoption rate. Only the
youngest, friendliest, cutest and best behaved dogs are going to be
By law, stray pets must be kept
several days for their owners to reclaim them. They may not be
destroyed until that period is up. Dogs given up by their owners
aren't protected by these laws. They may be destroyed at any time.
Shelters don't want to kill all these animals but they don't have a
choice. There just isn't enough room for all of them. Shelters today
are so overcrowded that your dog could be killed the same day it
Being purebred won't help your dog's
chances of adoption either - almost half of the dogs in many shelters
are purebreds. Because some people are afraid of Chows, some shelters
will not put them up for adoption at all. Your dog may be as good as
dead when it walks in the door. If your Chow is old, has health
problems or a poor attitude toward strangers, its chances of adoption
are slim to none.
Sending your dog to a shelter in
hopes that he'll find a good home is wishful thinking. It's more
likely that you'll be signing your Chow's death warrant. A shelter is
your last resort only after all your best efforts have failed.
....... about "No-Kill"
shelters and Breed Rescue services ......
True "no-kill" shelters are
few and far between. Obviously, no one wants to see their pet killed
so the demand for no-kill shelter services is high. So high that
they're forced to turn away many pets because they don't have room for
them all. Sometimes they have to choose only the most adoptable dogs
to work with.
Breed Rescue services are small,
private, shelter-like groups run by volunteers dedicated to a
particular breed. Most of them operate out of the volunteer's home.
Like no-kill shelters, demand for their services is high, so high that
your dog may be turned away for lack of room. A breed rescue can still
help you place your dog by providing referrals to persons interested
in adopting your dog. You'll have the most success if you follow the
rescue service's advice and are willing to do your share of the work
to find a new home. For the number of the nearest Chow Rescue service,
call the Chow Welfare Hotline at 608-756-2008 or write to the Chow
Chow Club, Inc.'s Welfare Committee.
Step 1. Soul Searching
Do you really have to give up
your Chow? There's a big difference between being forced to give up
your dog and wanting to "get rid of him". Search your heart
for the real reason why your dog can't live with you anymore. Be
honest with yourself. Your answer will probably fall into one of two
categories: People Problems or Dog Problems.
The Most Common People Problems:
"We're moving - we
can't find a landlord who'll let us keep our dog.".......
Many landlords don't allow children either but you'd never give up one
of your kids if you couldn't find the right apartment. Affordable
rental homes that allow pets are out there if you work to find them.
Most people give up too easily. See the end of this article for
suggestions that might help you find an apartment and still keep your
"We don't have enough
time for the dog".......as a puppy,
your dog took far more of your time than he does now. A Chow doesn't
really take that much time - his requirements for attention are often
less than of many other breeds. Grooming need only take an hour a
week. Are you really that busy? Can other members of your family help
care for the dog? Will getting rid of your Chow really make your life
less stressful? When they look closely at their lives, people often
discover that the dog isn't cramping their style as much as they
The Most Common Dog Problems:
you got your dog as a puppy and he now has a behavior problem you
can't live with, you must accept the fact that you are at least partly
responsible for the way your dog is now.
You have 4 options:
1. You can continue to live with your
dog the way he is.
2. You can get help to correct the
3. You can try to give your problem
to someone else.
4. You can have the dog destroyed.
Obviously the first option is out or
you wouldn't be reading this booklet. You're probably most interested
in Option 3 so let's talk frankly about that for a moment.
If you were looking for a dog and
could select from all kinds of dogs and puppies, would you
deliberately chooose one with a behavior problem?
No, certainly not - and neither would
anyone else. To make your dog desirable to other people, you're going
to have to take some action to fix his problems.
Most behavior problems aren't that
hard to solve. We can help you with them if you'll give it a try.
Think hard about Option 2 before deciding it won't work for you -
because the only option you have left is number 4: Having the dog
destroyed. That's the bottom line. If you, who know and love the dog
best, won't give him another chance, why should anyone else? Think
... IF YOUR DOG HAS EVER
BITTEN ANYONE ...
If your dog is aggressive with people
or has ever bitten anyone, you can't, in good conscience, give him to
anyone else. Could you live with yourself if that dog hurt another
person, especially a child? Can you deal with the lawsuit that could
result from it? You stand to lose your home and everything else you
own. Lawsuits from dog bites are settling for millions of dollars in
Our society today has zero tolerance
for a dog with a bite history, no matter how minor. A dog that has
bitten - whether or not it was his fault - is considered by law to be
a dangerous dog. In some states, it's illegal to sell or give
away a biting dog. No insurance company will cover a family with a
biting dog. And to be perfectly honest, no responsible person in his
right mind would want to adopt a biting dog.
No matter how much you love your dog,
if he has ever bitten anyone, you only have one responsible choice -
take him to your veterinarian and have him humanely put to sleep.
Don't leave him at a shelter where he might be frightened and confused
and put other people at risk. Don't try to place him as a "guard
dog" where he might be neglected, abused or used for dogfighting.
As hard as it is to face, putting
a potentially dangerous, biting dog to sleep is the only safe and
responsible thing to do. It's the right thing to do.
Step 2. Call your dog's breeder.
Before you do anything else, call the
person you got your dog from and ask for help. Even if several years
have passed, responsible breeders care about the puppies they sold and
will want to help you find a new home. They may even take the dog
back. At the very least, they deserve to know what you intend to do
with the Chow and what will happen to it. If you can't remember the
breeder's name, look on your dog's registration papers. If you got
your dog from an animal shelter or rescue service, read the adoption
contract you signed when you adopted him. You may be required by the
contract to return the dog to that shelter.
Step 3. Evaluate your dog's adoption
To successfully find a new home, you
need to be realistic about your dog's adoption potential. Let's be
honest: most people don't want "used" dogs, especially if
they have health or behavior problems. Your dog will have the best
chance if he's less than 4 years old, is healthy, friendly to
strangers, obeys commands and adapts quickly to new situations. Look
at your dog as if you were meeting him for the first time. What kind
of impression would he make? Would you want to adopt him?
You already know that Chows are
special dogs for special people. Those special people can be hard to
find. Most people interested in Chows today have never had one before.
They want a dog that will greet them with a wagging tail or will at
least allow them to pet him. If your dog is aggressive to strangers,
is "temperamental" or has ever bitten anyone, finding him
another home may not be your best option.
What kind of home do you want for
your Chow? A large fenced yard? Another dog to play with? Children? No
children? Make a list of what you feel is most important for your dog.
Then get real. No home will be perfect, of course, so you'll have to
make compromises. What kind of people are you looking for? What will
you be willing to compromise on? Once you have a firm idea of what
you're looking for, it will be easier to plan your search and get the
results you want.
Step 4. Get your dog ready
Your dog will be much more
appealing if he's clean, well-groomed and healthy. First, take
him to the vet for a check up. He'll need a heartworm test, a DHLP and
a rabies vaccination if he hasn't one within the last 6 months. Be
sure to tell the vet about any behavior problems so he can rule out
If your dog isn't spayed or
neutered, do it now! Don't waste your time trying to sell your
dog as "breeding stock" even if he's AKC-registered.
Frankly, no reputable Chow breeder will want him unless he came
from a well known show dog fancier in the first place. The only kind
of "breeder" who'll be interested in your dog will be a
puppyfarmer or a dog broker. Brokers seek out unaltered purebreds for
resale to puppymills or research laboratories. That's not the kind of
future you want for your dog.
Spaying or neutering guarantees
that your dog won't end up in a puppymill. It's the best way
to insure that your dog will be adopted by a family who wants him only
as a best friend and member of the family. If you can't afford the
cost of surgery, check with your vet, local shelter or rescue group
for information about low-cost spay and neuter programs that are
available in some parts of the country. Having your dog neutered or
spayed is the best going away present you can give him. It may save
his life! Give your dog a brighter future - make the appointment
If your dog has never been
tattooed or microchipped, this is a great time to do it. It's
not unusual for newly adopted dogs to get loose and become lost. A
permanent ID will help your dog get back to you or his new owners.
Groom your dog. You
want your dog to look beautiful and make a good impression. He needs
to be clean and well-dressed! Get rid of those mats and tangles and
give him a bath. Make sure he's neatly trimmed. If you can't do these
things yourself, take him to a groomer. Get rid of his old rusty choke
chain and buy a nice, new, strong collar and lead.
Set a reasonable adoption fee.
The key word is "reasonable". You can't expect the new owner
to pay you anywhere near the same price for a "used" dog as
they would for a shiny new puppy. A reasonable range might be between
$65-150, enough to help offset your advertising and veterinary costs.
Step 5. ADVERTISE!
Word of mouth doesn't go very far. Don't
be afraid to use classified ads to advertise your dog. Done
right, it's the most effective way to reach the largest number of
people. It's easy to write a good ad that will weed out poor adoption
prospects right away.
Your ad should give a short
description of your dog, his needs, your requirements for a home and
of course, your phone number. The description should include his
breed, color, sex, the fact that he's neutered and an indication of
his age. Hints: if your dog is less than 2 years old, state his age in
months so he'll be perceived as the young dog he is. If he's over
three, just say that he's an "adult".
Emphasize your dog's good
points: Is he friendly? Housebroken? Well-mannered? Loves
kids? Does he do tricks? Has he had any training? Don't keep it a
secret but don't exaggerate either. Knowing his name doesn't make him
State any definite requirements you
might have for his new home: fenced yard, no cats, kids over 10,
whatever. Try to say these in a positive way - for example, saying
"Kids over 10" sounds better than "No kids under
10". If your Chow doesn't like other pets, say "should be
only pet" rather than "doesn't like other animals".
Always state that references
are required. This tells people that you're being selective
and that you're not going to give your dog to just anybody. This
statement will do a lot to keep people with bad intentions from
dialing your number.
Never include the phrase
"free to good home" in your ad even if you're not
planning to charge a fee. If possible, don't put in any reference to a
price at all. The chance at a "free" dog will bring lots of
calls, but most of them won't be the kind of people you're looking for
and many of them will be people you'd rather not talk to at all.
Your ad should look something like
"Chow Chow: beautiful,
young adult red male, neutered. Friendly, housebroken, well-behaved.
Best with children over 10. Fenced yard, references required. Karen
Along with your local newspaper,
advertise in all major papers within an hour and a half's drive.
Schedule your ad so that it appears in Sunday's paper - the issue
that's the most well-read and widely circulated. If your budget is
very limited, choose to run your ad only on Sundays rather than
throughout the week. Nearly every community also has small, weekly
"budget-shopper" newspapers that offer inexpensive
classified ads. Take advantage of them!
Don't be discouraged if your
phone isn't ringing right away. Most people give up too soon.
It can take a month or more to find a new home, so plan on advertising
for several weeks. Put a phone number in the ad where you can be
easily reached or use an answering machine. People can't call you if
no one's home to answer the phone.
Newspapers are just one way to
advertise. Take a good cute photo of your dog and have copies
made. Duplicating photos can be done for as little as a quarter each
at most photo shops. Make an attractive flyer on colored paper that
you can have copied for a few cents each. Attach the cute photo of
your dog. Your flyer doesn't have to be expensive, professional or
computerized, just neat and eyecatching. Since you're not paying for
words, you can write more about your dog than you could in a newspaper
ad. Be descriptive!
Post your flyers at grocery stores,
department stores, vets' offices, pet supply stores, grooming shops,
factories, malls, etc. - anywhere you can find a public bulletin
board. If you have friends in a nearby city, mail them a supply of
flyers and ask them to post them for you.
Step 6. Interviewing Callers.
"First come, first served"
does not apply here. You are under no obligation to give your dog to
the first person who says he wants it. You have every right to ask
questions and choose the person you think will make the best new
owner. Don't let anyone rush you or intimidate you.
To help you along, we've included a
list of questions that we ask our callers. Make copies of this list
and fill in their answers as you speak to your callers. If you like,
you can also mail the application for your callers to fill out and
return to you. Get out the list you made with your requirements for a
new home and compare it to the answers the callers give.
First of all, get your caller's
name, address and phone number. Deceitful people may call you
from a phone booth or give you a fake address. Ask for information
that you can verify.
Does the caller's family know
about and approve of their plans to get a dog? If not, suggest
they talk it over with their spouse and call you back. The same
applies to people living with a companion or roommate. When one person
adopts a dog without the full approval of the rest of the family, the
adoption often fails.
Do they own or rent their home?
If renting, does their landlord approve? You'd be surprised
how many people haven't checked with their landlord before calling
you. If you have doubts, ask for the landlord's name and number, then
call him yourself. Be cautious about renters - they're quicker to move
than people who own their homes and movers often leave their pets
behind. Remember, you're looking for a permanent home for your
Does the caller have children?
How many and how old are they? If your dog isn't good with
kids, say so up front. How many children can make a difference
depending on your dog's personality. A shy dog may not be able to cope
with several children and their friends. Very young children may not
be old enough to treat the dog properly. If the callers don't have
children, ask them if they're thinking of having any in the near
future. Many people get rid of their dogs when they start a family.
Have they had dogs, especially
Chows, before? If yes, how long did they keep them?
These are very important questions! How they treated the pets they've
had in the past will tell you how they might treat your dog. The
following answers should raise a red flag and make you suspicious:
"We gave him away when
we moved." Unless they had to because of unavoidable
problems, moving is a poor excuse for giving up a pet. Almost
everyone can find a place that will allow dogs if they try hard
enough. If they gave up their last dog that easily, there's a good
chance they'll give yours up someday, too.
"We gave him away
because he had behavior problems." Most behavior
problems - poor housebreaking, chewing, barking, digging, running
away - result from a lack of training and attention. If the caller
wasn't willing to solve the problems he had with his last dog, he
probably won't try very hard with your dog either.
"Oh, we've had lots of
dogs!" Watch out for people who've had several
different dogs in just a few years' time. They may never kept any of
them for very long.
Do they have pets now? What
kinds? Obviously, if your dog isn't good with cats or other
animals and your caller has them, the adoption's not going to work
out. Be up front. Better to turn people away now than have to take the
dog back later. The sex of their other dogs is an important
consideration. Chows seldom get along with another large dog of the
same sex. Dog fights can be serious problems and one dog can hurt or
even kill the other. We recommend that you don't put your Chow into a
home with a dog of the same sex unless you're absolutely sure they'll
like each other.
Do they have a yard? Is it
fenced? Your dog will need daily exercise. Without a yard, how
will he get it? Can the caller provide it with regular walks? If the
yard isn't fenced, ask how he plans to keep the dog from leaving his
property? Did the caller's last dog wander off or get hit by a car? If
so, how will he keep this from happening to his next dog? Does he
understand that our independent Chows will wander off if left
unsupervised? That they have a mind of their own and don't like to
come when they're called? Does he know that keeping a Chow tied up can
have a bad effect on the dog's temperament?
Where will the dog spend most
of its time? Although most Chows love to be outside whenever
they can, a whole life outdoors probably isn't what you have in mind
for your dog. Dogs always kept outside are sometimes neglected, lonely
and may develop behavior problems.
Why is the caller interested in
a Chow Chow? What do they like about them? Find out what kind
of dog "personality" they're looking for. Many people are
attracted by the Chow's beauty but don't know anything else about
them. They might not have the slightest idea what a Chow Chow is all
about and might not like its temperament and characteristics. If their
expectations don't match your dog's disposition, the adoption's not
going to work. Be honest about our breed's good and bad points. Is a
Chow really what they're looking for or would they do better with
References: Get the
phone number of their vet (if they've had pets before) and two other
personal references. Call those references! Explain that John Doe is
interested in adopting your dog and you want to make sure he'll give
it a good home. Ask the vet whether former pets were given regular
medical care, annual vaccinations and heartworm preventative. Were
they in good condition and well-groomed? How long have they known this
person? If they were placing a pet, would they feel comfortable giving
it to this person?
Step 7: The In-Person Interview
Once you've chosen a family (or
families) that you feel are good candidates, make an appointment for
them to see the dog. You should actually set two appointments: one at
your house and one at theirs. Going to their house lets you see
whether their home and yard are truly what they said they are and
whether your dog will do well there. It also gives you an opportunity
to call off the adoption and take the dog back home with you if things
aren't as represented, if you think there'll be problems or if you
just get a bad feeling about the whole thing.
If they already have a dog, make
plans to introduce the dogs on "neutral" territory, like a
park. Most dogs resent meeting a strange dog at home. They may be
hostile toward the new dog or even start a fight.
If the family has children, ask them
to bring them to the interview. You need to see how the dog will react
to them and how the children treat the dog. Some allowance should be
made for kids' natural enthusiasm but if these children are
undisciplined, disrespectful to your dog and not kept in hand by their
parents, your dog could be mistreated in its new home and someone
could get bitten.
Do you like these people?
Are you comfortable having them as guests in your home? Would they
make good friends? If not, don't give them your dog. Trust your
instincts. If something about them doesn't seem quite right, even if
you can't explain what it is, don't take a chance on your dog's
future. Wait for another family!
Step 8. Saying Goodbye
After the interviews are over, give
the new family a day or two to decide if they really want to adopt
your dog. Make sure they have a chance to think over the commitment
they're making. While they're deciding, get a package ready to send
along with your dog. This package should include:
- your dog's medical records and the
name, address & phone number of your vet.
- your name, address & phone
(new address if you're moving)
- your dog's toys and belongings
(dog bed, blanket, etc.), a supply of dog food & special
treats he loves
- an instruction sheet on feeding,
special needs, etc.; some reading material about the Chow Chow
- collar and leash; ID and rabies
- the phone number of the Chow
Welfare Hotline: 608-756-2008
Set aside a special time for you and
your dog to take a last walk together and say goodbye. We know you'll
cry. Do it now, in private, so you're clear headed when he has to
leave. He may be confused about being left with strangers and you
won't want your emotions to upset him even more.
There are some things you need
to explain to the new family before they take your dog home: The
dog will go through an adjustment period as he gets to know his new
people, learns new rules and mourns the loss of his old family. Most
dogs adjust within a few days, but others may take longer. During this
time, they should avoid forcing the dog to do anything stressful -
taking a bath, obedience training classes, meeting too many strangers
at once, etc. - until he's had a chance to settle in. Tell them take
things easy at first and give the dog time to bond to them. The dog
might not eat for the first day or two. Not to worry - he'll eat when
he's ready. Some dogs temporarily forget their training. A
well-housebroken dog may have an accident during the first day in his
new home. This isn't unusual and rarely happens more than once.
Step 9. Paperwork
Have the new owner sign an
adoption contract with a waiver of liability.
We've included a sample contract you can use. Keep a copy for your
records. A contract will help to protect the dog and the waiver of
liability helps to protect you. You don't have a crystal ball
to predict what your dog might do in the future. Remember - a waiver
of liability will not protect you if you have lied or
misrepresented the dog to his new owners.
Tell the family they should
call you if the adoption doesn't work out.
Let them know you want to keep in touch and will call them in a few
days to see how things are going. Tell them to call you if they have
questions or problems. Be willing to take the dog back home if things
don't work out the way you both expected.
Make sure they have the Chow
Welfare Hotline's phone number: 608-756-2008.
We're always there to give advice and answer questions. We can also
send them a free packet of information about Chows, their care,
training and grooming.
SAMPLE ADOPTION CONTRACT:
Former Owner's Name:
Dog's Name: ________________ Breed:
_____________ Age:________ Sex:____ Color:______
Date of last Vet Check-up_________
Next vaccinations & Heartworm
check will be needed:_____________
To the best of my (former owner)
knowledge, this dog has no defects that would make it unsuitable as a
family pet. I certify that this dog has never bitten or injured
I (adopter) understand and agree to
the following terms of this contract and understand that non-
compliance with the terms of this agreement gives the adopting
agent/former owner the right to reclaim this dog without refund of
- an adoption fee of $_________ will
be collected at the time of adoption.
- This dog shall be kept and cared
for as a family pet in a humane manner and given appropriate
shelter and medical care for the duration of its life.
- I agree to abide by all state and
local animal control and leash laws. I understand it is my
responsibility to become familiar with these laws.
- I understand that ________( former
owner/agent) ______makes no guarantees or warranties regarding the
health or temperament of this dog. I agree to adopt this dog and
to be solely responsible for this animal and any damages that may
result from its actions. ___________ (former owner/agent) _____
shall not be held liable for the behavior of this dog or any
damages it may cause. I understand that this a binding contract
enforceable by civil law.
Date of adoption:
Former Owner's Signature
Moving, but can't
take your dog?
Moving is the most
common reason why people give up their pets. It doesn't
have to be this way.
- 1. Most people give up too quickly
in their search for rental property that accepts pets. Don't be
too quick to jump on the first apartment you see. There'll
probably be a better one available soon.
- 2. Widen your search. Most people
only look as far as the classified ads. Many landlords list their
property through real estate agents or rental associations rather
than the classifieds. Take advantage of rental services that help
tenants find apartments. Ask friends, relatives and co-workers to
keep an eye open for you. Many apartments are rented via word of
mouth before they're ever advertised in the papers. Check
- 3. A home that allows pets might
be in a different neighborhood than you'd prefer. It might be a
few more miles from work. It might not be as luxurious as you'd
like. It might cost a few dollars more. Are you willing to
compromise if it means being able to keep your dog?
- 4. "No Pets" doesn't
always mean "no pets, period." Many landlords
automatically rule out pets because they don't want the hassle.
Many of these landlords are pet owners themselves. Just because
the ad says "no pets" doesn't mean you shouldn't go see
the apartment anyway. During the interview, ask the landlord
"Are pets absolutely out of the question?" If he
answers, "well....", you have a chance! Hint: You'll
have better luck asking this question in person than over the
telephone - it's harder for people to say no to your face.
To encourage a landlord to let you
keep your dog......
- ...bring your well-groomed,
well-behaved dog to the rental interview. Show the landlord
that your dog is well-cared-for and that you're a responsible
owner. Bring along an obedience class diploma or Canine Good
Citizen certificate if your dog has one.
- ...offer an additional security
deposit or rental amount to be able to have a dog.
- ...bring references from your
previous landlords and neighbors. Invite the landlord to see your
present home to show him that the dog has not damaged the property
nor been a nuisance to the neighbors.
- ...use a dog crate. Landlords are
much more receptive to dogs that will be crated when their owners
5. In difficult times, people often
have to move in with relatives or friends who don't like dogs. This
doesn't have to be an impossible situation. Use a dog crate when
you're not home or when your family doesn't want your dog underfoot. A
portable kennel run can be set up in the yard for exercise and can be
sold later when you have your own place and don't need it anymore.
6. Don't think you're being unfair to
your dog by moving into a smaller place than what he's used to. Dogs
are very adaptable, they can often adjust even faster than people.
Where he lives isn't as important to him as who he lives with. He
wants to be with you and he doesn't care where that is.
This article was
"When You Can't Keep Your Chow Chow"
written by Karen Privitello, Lisa Hrico & Barbara Malone.
than for personal home use is prohibited without permission of the
Chow Chow Club, Inc.'s Welfare Committee. We are glad to give
permission to other rescue services and animal shelters to adapt this
article to their own needs.
us for permission to reprint.
The Chow Chow Club
Inc.'s Welfare Committee
9828 E. County A
Janesville, WI 53546