What Can Shelters Do To Help Adopt Pets

What Can Shelters Do To Help Adopt Pets?

Wag 20200717161803176800X23oV scaled 1

People are more likely to adopt an animal that they can picture in their home, right? So how can I make a person picture this animal in their home? Well to me it is not doing things that are shelter specific right, but if I can show them hey, here we can teach this dog how to sit, we can teach this dog how to go down, we can teach them to stay. Here’s this dog playing with other dogs, here’s this dog in a harness that you might use that at home. If I can put some devices on that dog that make it look better in their home, then I can show people that they learn and play and act just like other dogs, to me those are better vehicles for getting the word about adopting because I am showing that these are just your normal dogs that have had a bad stroke of luck. Rather than saying, you know like putting on emotional blackmail on people. Talking to them about the dog and not about their breed is really probably one of the biggest ways, being kind if we’re going to be kind to animals which should be kind to people.” – John Griffin

Shelters should take these steps to give their animals the best chance of being adopted:

1. Teach animals the right commands. One of the most common myths about shelter dogs is that they are in shelters because they did not make good pets. Pets end up in shelters for a variety of reasons. Regardless, shelters are still responsible for making their animals as adaptable as possible. If a shelter can teach an animal normal, household commands (such as sit, stay, etc.) it is easier for potential adopters to picture the pets in their homes. Potential owners may be more likely to adopt an animal if they already know basic commands, and the fact that the animals are receptive to commands suggests that they could be responsive to new owners.

2. Exhibit animals in a variety of environments. A dog in a cage is not a representative picture of what they would be like in a loving home. A dog playing with friends, wearing a bow or harness, and showing a personality is a far more honest demonstration. Shelters should show off their animals in realistic settings so that potential owners can project the animals into their own daily lives. If a person can see an animal fitting into their daily life, they are far more likely to adopt.

3. Be an ambassador for both the shelter and animal rescue at-large. Kill or no-kill, shelter, and rescue groups are all fighting a similar mission: they want to help dogs find a loving, second home. Part of this advocacy is in the shelter’s attitude. Shelters should not criticize individuals who get pets from a breeder; shelters should instead demonstrate that they are a suitable, ethical, and a community-based option for adopting a pet. Similarly, shelters should look to help each other. Although it is obviously in a shelter’s best immediate interest to advertise animals in their own shelter, shelters should take the time to understand potential owners and direct them to groups with the animals best suited for a person’s or family’s unique situation.

4. Advocate for “bully” breeds. The “bully” breeds (Pit Bulls, Bull Terriers, Boston Terriers, etc.) are harder to adopt out compared to other breeds because of the misconceptions surrounding the bully breeds. In line with their mission, shelters need to find a way to be advocates for these breeds. One thing shelters can do is advertise the breeds in contrast to their stereotypes. Owners of bully breeds know that the dogs are fun-loving, complete jokesters, and affectionate towards people, but these traits are not often seen by the public. So, shelters should publicize the animals in these ways, for example: showing a pit bull as a couch potato or a running partner. Alternatively, shelters could publish photos on their social media pages of bully breeds playing with other dogs to show their socialness. In shelters, these dogs are not able to advocate for themselves, and so it is up to shelters to exhibit these breeds in their best light.

Special Thanks To...

Wag john griffin 1

John Griffin

John Griffin is the director of shelter services at Women’s Animal Center in Bensalem, PA. They are committed to the humane and compassionate treatment of animals and are distinguished as America’s First Animal Shelter. John also volunteers his time with Big East Akita Rescue providing behavior evaluations and transports for homeless Akitas found or surrendered in the greater Philadelphia region.

Wag 20200717161804006400pva2R 1

Founded in 1869 Women’s Animal Center is an open-admission shelter helping pets and their owners in Lower Bucks County and far Northeast Philadelphia. WAC takes in approximately 3,000 animals a year through the animal shelter with a live release rate of over 90%. WAC operates a full-service veterinary hospital whose services include; surgery, routine vaccines, x-rays, ultrasounds, and dental care.

Aly DelaCoeur, UW-AAB
Aly DelaCoeur, UW-AAB is one of the founders of Wag Enabled (originally Why Does My Dog). Aly has a certificate in applied animal behavior through the University of Washington and is a certified veterinary assistant and AKC Evaluator. She aims to provide an unbiased perspective on dog training by providing practical, intelligent, and caring advice for people to impart on their canine companions