Basic Components of a Successful Adoption Program

ASPCA, National Shelter Outreach

Basic Components of a Successful
Adoption Program


It is the responsibility of the animal shelter to seek permanent, responsible homes for the adoptable animals placed in their custody. To that end, shelters need to formulate written policies and guidelines that will be followed when processing adoptions.

While the majority of adoption guidelines are in fact just that, they are still items that must be considered prior to making an adoption decision. It is not effective to rely solely on the individual discretion of the adoption counselor.

It is impossible to act in the best interest of the animals if there are no guidelines. Animals should not be adopted just to prevent euthanasia or haphazardly without forethought of the animal’s welfare.

Acting as the temporary guardian of an animal and making a “correct” determination about adoption placement is a difficult task to say the least. Adoption personnel have to walk a fine line between “screening” potential adopters and “educating” potential pet owners.

One of the most important components of an adoption program is helping people to become good pet owners regardless of whether or not they will be denied adoption at the shelter. Acting in the best interest of the animals never means antagonizing or alienating the public. A good adoption program treats potential adopters with respect and consideration. Research clearly shows that adults are more receptive to learning new ideas and values under conditions which treat them as intelligent, competent, and well-intentioned.

Giving every consideration to a potential adopter does not mean giving a pet to every potential adopters. It simply means treating the person with dignity and respect and listening to “their side of the story.”

Every situation is different. An adoption counselor must listen carefully and react to ideas, not to the person.

A PROGRESSIVE ADOPTION PROGRAM IS BASED ON THE FOLLOWING PREMISES:

  • Loving and responsible pet owners are not necessarily born that way. Given the right information in the right way, most people can become good pet owners.
  • Once a person decides to get a pet, they are liable to get one somewhere else if they are denied at the shelter.
  • Anyone taking the time to come to an animal shelter to adopt a pet when so many pets are available free in the community deserve to be given every consideration.

A PROGRESSIVE ADOPTION PROGRAM HAS
THE FOLLOWING ATTITUDES:

  • EDUCATIONAL — Thinks of every interaction with the public as an educational opportunity.
  • INDIVIDUAL DRIVEN — Uses guidelines not absolute directives.
  • FLEXIBILITY — Strives for the most positive solution. Flexibility does not mean out of control, it means giving every consideration to a potential adopter. It does not mean giving a pet to every potential adopter. It simply means treating the person with dignity and respect and listening to their side of the story.
  • RESPONSE TO CRITICISM — Willing to change outdated policies or programs in response to internal and external feedback.

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