How long is a dog considered a puppy if she has been living at the shelter for two weeks? Or how long does it take for a shelter to get a dog ready to adopt if it is the shelter’s first day?
These are the questions that keep me up at night as I try to manage the time line for getting dogs ready for adoption at our shelter. In order to give dogs the best chance to be adopted, it’s my responsibility to get the animals ready to be adopted as quickly as possible. The problem is, the more time that is spent prepping animals for adoption, the fewer dogs the shelter can help find homes for.
Every day that an animal is kept in the shelter, whether it is days, weeks or months, the animal loses the ability to adopt. Every day that I work with the animals, we are given a “window” of time to give them a shot at adoption.
I have tried many methods to find a balance between “doing things” for the shelter and the animals. We must work at a pace that allows animals to receive help from our experts, but not so much that we do more harm than good. In addition, each shelter and shelter employee is responsible for his/her own time and has a different set of circumstances to manage.
Here are some tips for managing time lines at your shelter:
Dogs can be “bagged” as many times as it takes to get them ready for adoption.
If the animal has had a lot of physical work done (e.g. vaccinations, spaying or neutering, nails clipped, teeth cleaned), we should give these animals the time to fully recover before placing them in other programs.
Animals that are older, sicker, or severely traumatized should not be put on a time table.
Animals with behavioral problems should be kept as long as they are working and are improving.
The shelter can never be “ready” to adopt. The animals will always need time for training and socialization.
To make a shelter “ready” for adoption is to always be one step behind.
Every day, the shelter must “keep up” with its responsibilities. The more time the shelter spends preparing animals for adoption, the less time the shelter has to spend in its other responsibilities.
While I believe these tips will help any shelter, each situation is unique and I am not suggesting you should follow them as I do.
If you are trying to find a balance, I would love to hear what strategies are working for your shelter and any obstacles that are preventing you from getting animals ready for adoption.
It seems like everywhere I go, people are talking about getting animals ready for adoption.
One of the most frequent questions I get is how long should an animal be ready for adoption. People ask this question about adoption events such as our adoption fairs. Some people even ask it about our adoption program.
I can never answer this question because every situation is different. Some shelters adopt dogs or cats from our adoption events on the spot, others adopt animals from our adoption events and then work to place them in foster homes, others take dogs in to foster homes to find their forever homes, and others adopt dogs and cats directly from our shelter. Some shelters may even place animals that were adopted at the adoption fair in their programs while others may not.
It is important to keep in mind that all shelters have a goal of getting all animals adopted. When someone is trying to find a balance, I would suggest looking at your resources and what you can do to help animals. Are you already making it a priority to find homes for the animals you already have in your shelter?
Many shelters have a policy of placing animals back in the shelter after adoption if they have not been adopted in a short time, while others place animals in a rescue group that finds homes for the animals they place in their program. We have many policies and procedures that we can work to help find homes for the animals that come into our shelter. But, how can we also help those who are trying to find a balance with their shelters time and resources?
I have been talking with many shelters and rescue groups about how they have managed their time and resources. Some of these shelters have told me they have “ready-adopt” dates. When this is the case, the shelter will put animals on a time line. The shelter will have animals in foster homes at a particular time, but they can be removed from that program if the animal is not adopted by a particular date. When the animal is ready to adopt, they go back into the foster home program.
I think it is a wonderful policy and I am not opposed to a shelter’s having a ready-adopt date. Some shelters also have an adoption fair where animals can be “bagged” to find their forever homes. They may also place animals at a rescue group that can find homes for the animals they place in their program.
When I talk to shelters about “ready-adopt” dates and adoption fairs, I try to ask a lot of questions. I want to know what policies and procedures they have to help animals find homes and how their shelters use their resources to help the animals that come into their shelter. I would love to hear more about shelters who are using these strategies, and any obstacles you may be having.
I hope the information in this post is useful to you. I appreciate all the questions I am getting about getting animals ready for adoption.
I hope these tips help you find a balance between keeping up with your responsibilities and the animals that need your help.
I love to write about topics that are near and dear to my heart, such as animal welfare, adoption, and volunteering. These topics are always of interest to people who are looking for information on how to be a better citizen and help the animal population.
I have been asked a few questions about my new book, Why Animals Do What They Do: Understanding Animal Behavior. When I get questions about the book, I answer them in the books’ Facebook