Ipsos Marketing conducted studies for Petsmart Charities on a variety of issues related to pet adoption in 2009 and 2011. In this post, I am going to look at some of the survey results indicative of why people want to adopt, where they are getting their pets and why more people aren’t getting them from rescues/shelters.
Unsurprisingly, the reason most people want to adopt is to rescue a pet. (pages 18 – 20) And yet we see so many invasive and outrageous adoption requirements from rescues and shelters, purportedly because they feel obligated to protect pets from dogfighters, hoarders, and animal abusers. Put another way, the study found that most adopters are driven by compassion. Shouldn’t we operate on the assumption that all applicants are kind-hearted unless we find out differently?
Some rescues and shelters are driving potential adopters away. Where are people getting pets instead? (page 11) The primary source for cats is the neighborhood. More cat owners acquired their most recent pet as a stray than any other source. More dog owners got their last dog from a family member or friend. What ties these sources together? The adoption process is super easy, there are no up front costs to obtain the pet, and in the case of stray cats, the adopter feels they are rescuing the pet.
About 25% of recent pet owners surveyed for the study researched online before acquiring a pet. (page 12) Shelters and rescues should ask themselves:
- Is our website user friendly and up to date?
- Are our photos and bios of available pets uplifting?
- Do we have a contact e-mail easily visible on the site and are we checking it regularly and replying promptly to inquiries?
Regarding perceptions of the local pound (page 16):
- 38% of respondents believe the facility has limited hours – This is an easy fix.
- 44% believe the pound is against animal cruelty – Wow, the fact that this isn’t close to 100% should be a wake up call for animal control units.
- 23% think the pets there are well cared for – I interpret this to indicate that most people believe pets are being neglected, abused or otherwise subjected to substandard treatment at their local pound.
- 32% flat out don’t want to visit the pound because it’s too depressing – No kidding.
There is a lot of useful information here for rescues and shelters. Remember that the math shows us we only need to increase adoptions of shelter pets by a little bit nationwide in order to get every healthy/treatable animal into a home. It seems like many of our rescues and shelters could do a little bit better simply by applying the Petsmart Charities research to their marketing and protocols.