The following is from the Summer 2010 issue of Protecting Animals, American Humane’s quarterly journal for animal welfare professionals. Used by permission. To learn more, visit www.AmericanHumane.org.
Mobile Resource Center
By Kathleen Beaver the Chief Operating Officer of Animal Friends, Inc., Pittsburgh, PA
We are able to safely and uniquely promote cat adoptions outside of our shelter after investing in a 30-foot mobile spay/neuter clinic in March 2009. We designed the Animal Friends Mobile Resource Center to be multipurpose, so it also serves as an adoption/educational tool for taking adoptable pets and the message of compassion and kindness into our community. Four full-size cages can be viewed from outside the vehicle to showcase animals, and prospective adopters can come inside to talk with counselors about the cats and do a meet and greet in a safe, quiet setting. This vehicle took cats to 18 off-site adoption events in 2009, and we were able, for the first time, to showcase cats at our largest event – Bark in the Park – with more than 700 dogs.
Another adoption promotion that worked very well in 2009 was our series of Kitten Showers. During our very busy kitten season, they provide a way to showcase the great personalities of our kittens and allow our foster parents to bring the kittens into the shelter enmasse. On a busy Saturday or Sunday, we encourage our foster parents to bring their kittens – that are spayed/ neutered, and medically and behaviorally cleared – to our Kitten Shower. Our 3,000-square-foot outreach center is transformed into a kitten playroom with ramps, tunnels, balls and toys. Our staff and volunteers welcome prospective adopters into the room to frolic with the kittens and find one that best fits their family’s personality and lifestyle. It is so much fun for everyone – the staff, volunteers, adopters and, most importantly, the kittens!
Lastly, we strongly recommend adopting kittens as pairs. They bond well and keep each other entertained and active. To assist with this, we name our kittens in pairs: Sampson and Delilah, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Lucy and Ethel. The names are not only fun, but they also make it really hard for adopters to split up the pair – after all, what would spaghetti be without meatballs?
Free Adoptions of Adult Cats
Shawni M. Larrabee, division director of Salt Lake County Animal Services, Salt Lake City, UT
We began offering cats over 6 months old at deep discounts last spring, and then dropped the adoption fee completely in July 2009. The response has been tremendous, and as of the end of 2009, we had increased adult cat adoptions by 139 percent and overall feline adoptions by 81 percent! The story was picked up by USA Today and ran nationally in January. All cats are sterilized, microchipped and have received at least one set of vaccinations. The cost of the program is covered by more easily adopted pets, such as kittens and puppies. Potential adopters still have to go through the screening process, and we have not seen an increase in returns.