Animal Shelter Adoption Program

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ANIMAL SHELTER ADOPTION PROGRAM

…Or ASAP, as one branch of Petland is calling it. Puppies and kittens from commercial breeders are no longer  sold at ONE  Petland branch located in East Liberty, Pennsylvania. This store, that had been regularly picketed by animal advocates, has finally agreed that the profit is not worth the torture that the parents back at the mill go through each day.

For many pet stores,  that “puppy (and kitty) in the window” is now coming from the local shelter or rescue. PetSmart and Petco are among the list of retailers that have adoption as their only option for dogs and cats. More recently, Jack’s Pets, a midwest pet store, has decided to cut ties with commercial breeders and join the club! Starting 2012 that will be starting their own Animal Shelter Adoption Program.

Far too many rescue groups these days are purely volunteer based, so the animals are often in the homes of said volunteers. This leaves them without a place to show off their own adorable adoptables! Since more and more cities are banning the sale of puppies and kitties in stores within their city limits, hosting the adoptables is quickly becoming the only option for having them in their store!

Many people wonder just how pet stores can adapt to this  business model- so here are a few of my suggestions!

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The store that is selling the dogs and cats already has room for the animals. So the first step is to find out what size and breed of dog (cat) they can have in their store and the number the cages can hold. Once they have this rough number in their mind, they need to find rescues to partner with. Notice I said RESCUES. I suggest having more than one (preferably five) rescues that you are constantly getting pets from. Sadly, the adoption rates are much higher within the pet stores than at a shelter- so the turnover will be greater! Having more rescues that you partner with will ensure that you will always have animals on hand. The Pet store should seek out animal shelters and other rescue groups that are well-organized, offer ongoing support and are able to help expedite the adoption process. By “expedite”, I do not mean sell to the highest bidder. But by having a quicker adoption process helps the rate that animals are placed into their forever homes! Having adoption applications on hand also helps, because then they potential adopter can take the application over OR the store can fax the information over quickly.

Since the pets are coming fully vetted, the customer will already feel safer adopting it! They will know that the money being spent has already gone to their new family member. So, when choosing a rescue, try to pick ones that have fully vetted pets! Having the pet completely ready to go is another great incentive!

The next crucial step is to determine just who will be caring for the pets! Seeing as the pet store was already caring for the pets, this may not be an issue. However, it would sweeten the deal if the rescue had a volunteer or two helping out in the store! Either way, clear communication is VERY important in this arrangement. If this step isn’t clearly discussed, then it can make the who ordeal a very messy one. The rescue should also give the pet store an emergency contact number, in case one of the animals is sick or in distress. Keeping the animal’s best interest in mind is the most important part of this.

When picking the animals, the rescue needs to consider temperament, age, and size. The pet store will be getting a lot more traffic, so the animals need to be okay with being “on display” and being handled. The friendlier the pet, the more likely the adoption! As for age, the younger animals usually get adopted out faster, but that is something that needs to be determined by both parties. If the store still wants to focus on puppies and kitties, then, once again, CLEAR communication needs to happen. All of this needs to be thoroughly discussed before the animals actually enter the store. The time frame that the animals spend in the store should also be a topic of discussion. It isn’t fair to the animal’s well-being to be kept on display for weeks at a time-but again, that is up to the partnership to decide! Lastly, size is a factor. As I mentioned before, the store already has the cages set up! So making the pets as comfortable as possible within those cages is crucial!

“The Partnership” should also discuss matters such as supplies! Talk about who will be providing the food, kitty litter and toys. One option is deciding that one side will provide the volunteers to clean the cages and care for the animals and the other side will provide the supplies.

Most rescues have a return-policy in place already (well, the good ones do, anyway!) If, for some reason, the pet cannot be kept within the home, they usually request that the animal comes back so it can be placed into an approved home. This is another discussion topic for the partnership to discuss! Questions will come up like: Does this return policy have a refund or not?

Which brings me to my next point. The adoption fee… While I think that the money should go straight back to the rescue, the pet store may feel differently. Cooperation and compromise will be needed from both parties in order for a deal to happen. If you need to add a few dollars to the fee to cover the cost of the pet store’s help, then so be it! Always keep the best interest of the animal in mind!

Adoption Promotion is another important factor that is often overlooked. By hanging a short, easy to read paragraph about the pet right on the cage  can help adoption drastically. Whether your write the facts, or a creative story- you are more likely to get people to stop and read.  This might reveal where the pet came from, why it is available for adoption – for example, the owner got divorced or passed away – and the pet’s special features, such as if it is declawed. It is also important to include information about personality traits, so the potential adopter knows exactly what they are getting!

My last bit of advice is to write out a well-written contract, have both parties sign and give copies to each. This will ensure that each side knows exactly what is expected of them in this deal!

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Most of my readers know exactly why I felt the need to write this post. This article is an example of the business model that I want Dyvigs Pet Shoppe in Ames, Iowa to follow. For me, having dogs and cats in a store is never an option. I think that this is a HUGE downfall for many decent pet stores that could honestly be great!  

 Please feel free to share this with friends and pet store owners! More and more people are starting to picket pet stores that actually sell dogs. Not only is this bad press, but it is awful the business. With the pet overpopulation being at an all-time high, all pet lovers would agree that the “adopt, don’t shop” business model is a great one!

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–Mindi

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