What to Include in a Pet Adoption Agreement

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A pet adoption agreement is a legally enforceable contract. If a dispute over the pet adoption arises, a court will not be concerned with what was said during the adoption process; the only terms that will matter are those written in the adoption agreement and signed by both the buyer and seller. There are several pieces of information that should be included in the contract:

Description of the Pet

Include a detailed description with age, sex, breed, color, and any other clearly identifying characteristics. Details such as an ID tag number or a microchip number should also be included. Medical records, vaccinations, and whether the animal is spayed or neutered should also be a part of the description.


For the adoption agreement to be legally enforceable, any cost or fees the buyer is paying should appear in the contract. If the buyer is providing something other than cash in exchange for the animal, it should also be listed.

The Purpose of Adoption

This does not need to be excessively detailed, but the adoption agreement should state the expected reason for the adoption. For instance, the animal may be intended as a companion pet, or as a service animal to address a specific disability. Identifying clearly both the buyer’s and the seller’s expectations can help avoid future conflict.

Warranties and Guarantees

The buyer and seller may choose to negotiate over what precisely is promised about the behavior, health, or abilities of the animal. In general, it is reasonable to include that the pet is free from infectious disease or hereditary conditions that adversely affect the animal’s health. If the pet does suffer from illness, injury, or disability, it is a good idea to clearly outline these so that neither party can claim to have been misled. It is also common to disclaim liability for the animal’s temperament, especially in the case of young animals.

Return Policy

Most sellers would prefer that their pets go to homes that will provide care and love. A no-questions-asked return policy can help ensure a pet goes to the right home.