Thursday, November 15, 2012

Re-homing a dog: A survey offers insight, and adoption strategies

Much has been written to help improve adoption rates, and those shelters that have been putting in the effort have been enjoying the relief and the joy that comes from increased adoptions. (Linked: Animal Farm Foundation's smart 'Turbo Charging Pit Bull Adoptions' info)

A sour economy and ongoing housing challenges are harder to solve, and as the pressures they bring wreck havoc on under-resourced pet owners, the need for shelter kennels and rescue spots stays steady. Inquiries from Good Samaritans who pluck strays from the streets and stressed families with dogs they're unable to keep bring a daily pile-up in rescuers' mailboxes, and a daily heartbreak, too.

Right: This mixed breed dog was living under a truck when a Good Samaritan got involved. She told us,"I'm trying my darnedest to find him a home (facebook, contacting rescues, talking to friends) to figure it out." Her story repeats itself thousands of times a day across the country, in every mailbox in every rescue group.

To help those Good Sams and desperate families navigate the frustrations of re-homing a dog (any kind of dog, actually) we asked 2000 pit bull adopters to tell us how they came to find their dog(s), and we wove what we learned into a new webpage called Adoption Strategies. It's not for shelters - although some will certainly find it useful.  It's for the Average Joe who can't understand why rescues aren't returning his emails, and how the hec is he ever going to find his dog a decent home?

99 out of 2006 people who answered our survey have had to give up a dog. Reasons included: Landlord rejection, family problems, regional laws (BSL), unable to find pet-friendly housing (after pressures such as foreclosure and military deployment), unable to manage some of the dog's behaviors, illness/death in the family, life changes.

Some of what we learned about adoption trends...

Shelters Take the Lead

An overwhelming majority of participants reported that they fell in love with their pit bull at a city or county run shelter. This would not have been true ten years ago, when pit bulls were MIA from many shelter adoption programs. That lack of adoptables, combined with unfounded myths about the 'defective' nature of shelter dogs sucked dog lovers like a big vacuum straight to backyard breeders for unaltered pets. How times have changed.

Social Media to the Rescue

While popular spots like are helping draw a majority of shelter and rescue adopters to their new pets, Petfinder no longer allows Good Samaritans and desperate families to post dog-in-need ads. Facebook and Craigslist seem to be filling that void though, and both now serve as the onine go-to places to find a new dog, ranking just behind the adoption pages of shelters and rescue groups in our survey.

Our new question: How can we match more dog-shoppers up with homeless dogs so our communities can rely less on overcrowded shelters? Miles to go before we sleep!

Link to the SURVEY
Link to Adoption Strategies PAGE

Where to go to get homeless dogs noticed is only half the battle. Families and Good Sams have to brush up fast on marketing must-knows so their dogs stand out from the crowd ... Easier said than done when English is not your first language and feeding the kids and working more than one job gets in the way of shooting cute dog photos.

Feel free to share this info-page with your favorite non-profits who, like us, get a dizzying amount of mail from very good people asking very good questions about best ways to re-home very good pets.

Let's Discuss. BADRAP will be presenting on ways to curb the flow of incoming dogs at The Animal Care Conference in Sacramento on Monday, February 25. Please join us if you work in the animal welfare world and, like us, are ready to look at ways to prevent dogs from coming in the door.


Shannon @theDIYdog said...

This sounds like a great resource! But I don't see a link to the page...

Renting With Rex said...

The basis of the problem is that there is too many animals that end up needing a home, and the source comes from all the breeding that is occurring without any rules, controls or regulation. Stop the overflow of breeding and then the supply will diminish.

Today, people have many choices where they can get a new pet: pet shops, rescues, shelters, neighbors, strays, ads, etc. Rescues and shelters are having to compete with all these other sources.

Stop the oversupply of animals being constantly bred, slow down the supply of animals needing homes and then the remaining animals will have a better chance of finding better homes.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great conference if you can attend. Yes. If there were a good way to reduce the reckless breeding of any dog or cat that would help. Things are getting better but I guess you have to find a way to motivate people to breed dogs less. We need to breed them but just not as much. All these dogs deserve good homes but not everyone wants a pet or should have one. I know things will get better with so many people trying so hard to help these dogs. But more outreach needs to be done for the people that breed dogs and don't keep up with rescue groups but still care about helping dogs. They may not understand that the litter they have of their favorite dog over and over again might cause some of those dogs they love to be unwanted down the road because there are not enough GOOD homes for these dogs that they love.

Unknown said...

Stop the oversupply of animals being constantly bred, slow down the supply of animals needing homes and then the remaining animals will have a better chance of finding better homes. great dogs sites