The website that bypasses animal shelters to find pets a new home

When a pet owner can’t keep their companion anymore, instead of taking them to a shelter, there’s an alternative being suggested by the Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center.

“Home To Home” is a website that allows pet owners who need to surrender their pets to find a match with prospective owners who might be interested in their dog, cat or other animal. It was created through the Better Together Animal Alliance, a shelter in northern Idaho.

According to the website’s “How it works” page, a pet owner posts a profile with pictures of their pet, “which is then listed and shared with individuals and families who are interested in adopting a pet. Our mission is to keep animals out of shelters, and instead, rehome them with loving families.”

Maria Anselmo, community relations manager with MCASAC, said the site does not permit “rehoming fees.”

Ruth Garcia, director of Home To Home, told WTOP in an interview that, “If people have a bad interaction and they get asked for money, we ask them to send us a complaint email.”

On each profile page, there are notices in a yellow box. On one page advertising two dogs from Aiken, South Carolina, for example, the notice states, “DON’T BE TRICKED! We want to help protect you from scammers that attempt to trick you into paying for a pet. All pets on Home To Home should be free. No rehoming or adoption fees are allowed through this site.”

“Charging a fee doesn’t lead to better homes, communication does,” Anselmo told WTOP.

When asked about the potential for scammers to use the site, Anselmo said pet owners or those looking for a pet “are only going to be able to contact you via the website until you give them additional information.”

By using Home To Home, anyone looking to adopt an animal can ask the owner surrendering their pet very specific questions, from behavior issues to vet care the pet has had, said Anselmo.

“All these things that an open admissions shelter cannot do reasonably,” she said.

There is another disclaimer that appears on the site that states: “It is the responsibility of the individuals who express interest in a particular pet listed on these pages to obtain and verify information about the pet’s medical, behavior and bite history.”

If both parties agree they’ve got a match, Anselmo said the handoff process is something that would be arranged in a way that makes both feel comfortable.

“Some people will choose a public place. Other people will, say, drop their pet off at the new home. It’s very much based on the comfort of the two individuals,” Anselmo said.

According to Garcia, 86% of pets posted “have a positive outcome” based on responses from registered users. And according to the Home To Home website, shelters have benefited; they’ve seen a 26% reduction in owner surrenders.

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Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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