Should I back out of this? (Rehoming two of my pet birds)

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned too many times here, I’m chronically ill, and my health will probably not be improving significantly any time soon. My cockatiel and lovebird don’t get enough attention and care from me and I need to rehome them. It’s gotten to the point where I *avoid *interacting with them because I hate myself so much for neglecting them.

So I posted an ad on craigslist (not the first - not many people looking to take in other people’s older birds), and a woman responded who actually wants both! and is home a lot and has birds of both species already that mine can interact with! and lives near by!

The problem is, her law student son advised her not sign the contract I emailed her. It’s basically just to ease my mind. It stipulates that the bird be returned to me if she can’t keep it and she won’t put the bird in a shelter or give it to a friend behind my back. I know that’s even a bit much, but these birds mean a lot to me and I don’t want them to wind up in a bad situation.

So I chopped a lot out of the contract because she sounds like she’ll give them a great home and I decided to trust her more than I was inclined to and made it as innocuous as possible. This is the result:

This bird adoption agreement (the “Agreement”) is entered into for mutually acknowledged and valuable consideration, as of the ______ day of ___________, _____ (The “Effective Date”), between [me] and _______________________ (“Primary Caregiver”). [me] and ______________________________ agree to a placement of the bird known as _________________________________, a _______________________ (species) (hereafter referred to as “the bird”) with the Primary Caregiver at their home.

The Primary Caregiver agrees to give the bird a healthy, loving environment and to care for him or her with common sense, respect, and decency. He/she is to be treated as a member of the family.

Primary Caregiver shall allow [me] to perform a home inspection prior to placing the bird in the care of Primary Caregiver and to visit the bird in Primary Caregiver’s home once it has been placed in Primary Caregiver’s care no less than once.

Primary Caregiver promises that the bird shall not be sold, adopted, given away, or otherwise rehomed or sent to live with another party other than [me]. If for any reason the Primary Caregiver is unable to keep the bird, the bird shall be returned to [me].

The Primary Caregiver understands that birds require security and companionship, a nutritious diet, a healthy environment (safe, good ventilation, medical care), stimulation (toys & interaction), and a decent cage in which to live. All these things can be expensive and the Primary Caregiver is aware and capable of providing the proper resources. Primary caregiver agrees to be responsible for all veterinary care and states that providing such care is not a financial hardship. Primary caregiver agrees to take the bird for treatment by a qualified avian vet as needed at the first insurgence of health problems.

Signatures and such. (A woman at a bird shelter in my state was kind enough to send me the contract they have people sign, and I basically just shortened it.)

Yet again, however, her son advises her to sign, paraphrase, a simple statement that if she can’t keep the bird she’ll return it to me and nothing more. Then she says that that would never be necessary, as she would never give up any of her birds.

The thing is, she says she agrees with all the sentiments and requirements in the contract, so should I be concerned that she won’t sign it? (Talk is cheap, and so on.) I doubt my ability to judge people and have only the one meeting with her and a few short emails to determine what kind of person she is before giving my birds to her. I can’t afford to screw it up, for their sake. I hate to back out though, because who knows if anyone else willing to take them in is going to come along?

What do you think?

And I understand that I value my birds more than maybe a lot of people would, and there are those of you who wouldn’t sign that contract if your life depended on it, it’s so outrageous. You’re entitled to your opinion, but I have to do what puts my mind at ease, and your comments would not be helpful, so if you could refrain, it’d be appreciated.


Could you ask her to ask her son to draft up something more suitable? Or could you two sign this thing behind his back? If it was me, I’d be a little creeped out that this decision is being made by the son. I’d want to know if there was something in particular in the contract that was seen as a problem or if he was just advising her not to sign any contracts.

Gee, this sounds familiar. I’m being forced to downsize birds due to health concerns, also.
Maybe the son is concerned about the home inspections part, maybe thinking you’ll pester his mother to death about how your pets are doing.

It seems like a lot of extras i wouldn’t want to sign. A contract saying you get the birds back is one thing. I’d be fine on that. All the extras which are subjective opinions about what is proper care I wouldn’t sign for. Good luck on finding someone that will sign a legal document on that. i don’t think most people would sign it.

I’m in the camp that if you are making the choice to get rid of an animal, you have an obligation to find as good a home as possible. Once you give that animal away. You no longer have any rights to it.

All those after the transaction things are part of the reason shelters are so full. My mother wanted to rescue a cat. They wouldn’t let her adopt a cat because she did not have a fenced yard. It was an indoor cat, would remain an indoor cat. I’ve never seen a cat that could be contained in a yard by a fence.

As someone completely outside of this situation, if my mom were given this contract to sign, I’d advise against it. And I’m not a lawyer. Or a law student. Again, as an OUTSIDER, the impression I get is that the person writing the contract is not able to let go of control. It’s not from a legal point of view, it’s from a “don’t get tangled up with an obsessive/crazy person” standpoint.

Like the “treated as a member of the family” part … well, how do you know how I treat my family? Maybe how I treat my family isn’t up to your standards. Are you going to come barging in later and make a big scene about this? You, supergoose, are probably not, but again, as my mom’s child, I am thinking that I don’t want to deal with it down the road when my mom is upset because the former owner of her pet is stalking her.

Now, I don’t think you’re crazy. I love my cat, and I’m a crazy cat person, and if I ever had to rehome him, I’d have a list of requirements a mile long. But it probably wouldn’t serve me well, and it would be a benefit if a friend stepped in and said “hey, you realize you’re acting like crazy person, right? And if you keep acting like this, you are going to make the process take a million times longer than necessary. And it will be that much longer before your pet is in a good home.”

So I sympathize with what you’re feeling, but my advice is to let go.

IANAL or a pet owner, but I would be much more willing to sign a contract with an established non-profit shelter than with someone I found on craigslist. The shelter I know by reputation, random CL person not so much. And FWIW I’m fairly trusting as CL users go – I give out my address and go into strange people’s houses all the time. But I would be very cautious about putting my name on a piece of paper to form a long-term relationship like this, especially if it’s for something that’s not a must-have. So I agree with Harmonious Discord, I’d worry that this contract will turn away potential candidates.

The revised version that you posted doesn’t look that different from the stuff I’ve been asked to sign when adopting dogs and cats from shelters and rescue groups. If she’s uncomfortable with a contract, how about establishing an email trail in which you discuss this and she makes clear that she agrees with the content?

I’d take out the part about inspecting the premises before and after she’s taken possession of the birds, though. Check out her place and her other birds before you even agree to let her take your birds. If everything looks good, it’s unlikely that she’s going to treat your birds differently than the ones she already has. How about agreeing to maintain contact via email, with some pictures of your birds at intervals to assure you that they’re doing well?

Good on you for doing what you can to make sure your birds have a proper home!

IOW, all opinions are welcome unless they disagree with you. :rolleyes:

FTR, I wouldn’t sign it, wouldn’t advise anyone else to sign it, and would advise anyone to steer clear of situations where something like this is required.

The notion of “I am requiring you to take better care of two birds than I did” is a little on the far side of unreasonable.


First of all, thank you everyone for your input. Confession: I do have control issues, because I don’t trust my own judgment, but I didn’t realize I was verging on crazy person territory. Thank you for pointing it out.

I have a bad feeling the answer *is *just let it go, which will be very hard.

Some clarification:

  1. The contract has a sentence at the bottom I didn’t write in here that states that it’s based on a (much more stringent) adoption contract from [specific] bird shelter with permission from [specific person from that shelter].

I’d use their actual contract, but *I *wouldn’t sign that thing, which is saying something. The problem is, short of consulting a lawyer, I don’t know how to draw up a contract that would hold up in court and don’t know exactly what it is about their contract that accomplishes that, so I’ve stuck mainly to removing rather than altering, not that it much matters which, I imagine, legally-speaking.

  1. That “member of the family” thing I find hinky as well, but it was in the original contract, and this woman has, in her emails to me, used the same phrase, so I thought I’d leave it, since I’m trying to get her to sign something saying that she’ll keep her word to me.

I’m afraid I might have to insist on the home visit a little while after rehoming my birds, since I know them quite well and think I would be able to tell if they were settling in well or if the home I’d chosen was just not a good match for them. What if I clarified that upfront in my “looking for a good home” post? Would that be crossing the line and scare people off, do you think? Is a mismatch just a risk I’ll have to take?

For those of you with pet birds, can the way the bird responds to a person when they first meet pretty well determine if they’re a good fit for one another?

I hadn’t thought about judging a person’s actions towards my birds in the future by how they treat the birds they have. That might be enough to put my mind at ease. Thank you for bringing that up, cwthree.

I’m not sure about maintaining contact by email and asking for pictures, though. I’d love that, but I don’t know if most people would be willing to. Anyone else care to chime in on that?

Thank you all again. I’ll email back asking for clarification on what is unacceptable about the contract and see if I can come up with something we could both be okay with.

I was attempting to prevent people who don’t consider pet birds to be worth much from posting, as that would be a fundamental disconnect that would render their advice unhelpful and a waste of both our time.

The whole problem is that I’m not taking good enough care of them. What would be the point of rehoming them if I wasn’t looking for someone who *would *take better care of them? How on earth is that unreasonable?

Frankly, this idea of yours that you should only rehome creatures you care about and are responsible for to homes as inadequate as your own is a strange notion coming from someone who adopted a couple of kids. Why did you bother, if obviously they must have come from a similar situation as the one you could provide? Or are you and the adoption agency as “unreasonable” as I am?

You hadn’t posted this when I started my earlier reply to the responses I got in this thread. I specify this because I want to make it clear that my appreciation and gratitude does not extend to you.

Not a bird person, and not a lawyer, but if a friend showed me that contract and inquired if I they should sign it I would advise them not to. She is doing you a world class favor by taking these older birds. I would never take on the care and feeding of someone’s animals if I felt that they would be continually looking over my shoulder re the decisions I made about their care.

If you feel comfy with the mother go ahead but in the real world I doubt any competent attorney would advise his mother to sign a contract like that. The post-transfer conditions would set off too many alarm bells about someone who is potentially going o be an intrusive problem in the future.

I should specify something else, here. She and I agreed that I would visit the birds once after rehoming them with her. I have no intention of bothering her beyond that. I can see how the contract could imply otherwise, so if it was changed to reflect that, would it still give the impression of constantly looking over her shoulder?

Your “intentions” are beside the point to an attorney. The contract sets out caretaking parameters and conditions that are subject to your performance standards and have no time limits.

Here’s how one contractual scenario turned out with a dog.

I know. That’s why I said I’d change it. What is your opinion of the reasonableness of that part of the contract with the modification?

Specifically, if it were to say this instead: “Primary Caregiver shall allow [me] to perform a home visit prior to placing the bird in the care of Primary Caregiver and to visit the bird in Primary Caregiver’s home one time once it has been placed in Primary Caregiver’s care at both parties’ convenience and no more than two months after the bird is placed in Primary Caregiver’s care.”

I agree it sets out caretaking standards, but only stipulates that the potential owner agree with them. Technically, she could *do *whatever she wants, right? What is it about the wording that makes it sound as though her actions after the one post-rehoming visit would be subject to my review?

So, we sorted it out. I eliminated all of the contract except the “only give them to me if she can’t keep them” one, and I’ll be visiting with my birds (expecting to leave them with her) on Sunday. Wish me luck. :)/:frowning:

I’m glad you’ll be able to put them in a good home.

Thought you guys would want an update:

I took both birds over to see her house, everything seemed great, so they’re hers now. I took the contract but in the end didn’t feel it was necessary and never had her sign it.

My cockatiel* perked up right away and was happily chirping back and forth with the other cockatiels. I wish I’d found her a home with other cockatiels earlier.

My lovebird, though, seemed pretty shell shocked. I really hope she settles in and bonds with the other lovebirds and humans there soon and doesn’t think I’ve abandoned her and don’t want her anymore. She is quite attached to me, and I’ve been the only creature she’s really been attached to ever since bringing her home a dozen or so years ago. The woman says I’m welcome to drop by and visit anytime, but I have the feeling that might make it harder for my lovebird to move on.

Or is that strictly a human thing and she’d find it comforting that I still want to see her?

In any case, I felt good about it and although I miss them already, I’m glad I was able to do this for them.

Thanks for all the help and support.

*Am I spelling this incorrectly, or something? Spell check here always says its it’s wrong.

Final update, I promise: just got an email from the woman who took them in, and she says cockatiel is happily chirping with the other cockatiels and lovebird is singing! So they’re happy and I’m thrilled. And I feel much better about the situation and myself now.

I just wanted to follow up with you. I was about 99% certain you were only seeking verification for what you intended to do anyway. I posted mostly on the off chance you really did want feedback and I expected you to flame me to hell and back.

I am deeply, deeply impressed that you took peoples advice (not just mine) with such decorum. I am very happy your birds have found a home that you feel is suitable. I’m also very sorry for thinking such negative thoughts. You are a class act.