Reminder to Shelters: The Public is Your Friend
February 6, 2013
I have so many pet peeves when it comes to shelters, it’s a good thing I have a blog. Today’s pet peeve: Shaming the public when a shelter takes in an abused or neglected pet who gets tons of adoption inquiries. The applicants, who are responding out of compassion for a shelter pet in need, are collectively scolded for not adopting one of the other pets at the facility who will perhaps wind up in the dumpster.
First off, it’s not the public’s fault that the shelter is killing animals instead of doing its job and many people are unaware that in fact, most shelters do not actually shelter. Secondly, when I see an outpouring of sympathy for a shelter pet from potential adopters, the last thing I want to do is wag my finger in their faces. Shelters normally have to work hard to draw people in but in this case, people are coming to the shelter, seeking to adopt. Carpe diem!
Instead of berating the so-called irresponsible public for not taking home a scared Lab mix hiding at the back of the cage after learning that the emaciated spaniel mix on the news is already spoken for, why not capitalize on the public’s interest? If I had Tinkerbell, the (fictional) emaciated spaniel with dozens of adoption apps, I would make every dog in the place Tinkerbell’s friend.
Take the scared Lab mix out of the cage to play with Tinkerbell. Give Tinkerbell a Beagle snuggle buddy. Take her on walks with a terrier mix. Invite the media back to the shelter for a follow up story on how Tinkerbell has an adopter but Tinkerbell’s play buddy, naptime friend and exercise pal will be lonely without her and are still hoping to find their special someone. Post pictures online of Tinkerbell with each of her doggie pals and tell how she made a difference in their lives at the shelter. Encourage the compassionate public to consider adopting Tinkerbell’s friends. Explain that she touched so many in the community but especially the dogs she made friends with at the shelter.
In short, get rid of: “Oh you’re interested in the pet who was on TV? Well she’s already got an approved adopter you jerk!” Replace with: “You saw Tinkerbell on TV? Thankfully she has a home waiting for her but I am concerned about her friend Rocky here. They nap together every afternoon and he’s going to be so lonely when she is well enough to go home.”