January 23, 2013
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.
January 22, 2013
The above image purportedly depicts two Birmingham-Jefferson Co ACOs using a net and a chokepole to drag a dog across a restaurant parking lot in AL. The person who claims to have witnessed and photographed the alleged abuse states that the dog is a friendly stray, known by locals who regularly feed him.
While we have tried to respond to all of the comments being made it will be impossible to reach out to everyone. We appreciate everyone’s concern for this dog! We wish the concern was there BEFORE we were asked to remove him! Our officers were performing their jobs and were utilizing capture equipment designed for both the safety of the animals AND the officers. The photo shows one moment of what must have been a very stressful capture and shows the officers leading the dog to the vehicle. This has been shown to be the least stressful and safest method for moving an aggressive animal. While a dog may not show aggression when someone tosses him a biscuit we did receive a report that his dog growled at a patron (which is why we were there in the first place) Stray dogs do not usually trust a stranger and we are trained to handle cute and fuzzy puppies all the way up to the large dog that bit the neighbor’s child. We must first and foremost protect the public! Our techniques may look barbaric to the untrained public but we have extensive training and often are called to remove a dog that has bitten a citizen who was “just trying to help!” Any dog can bite and we are prepared for those circumstances. If we can lead a dog out on a leash we do and many people have witnessed this. Before you sit in your warm living rooms and decide to demand justice for this dog we ask that you consider he could still be out of the street dodging traffic and trying to locate his next meal. That is not a good life for a dog and we provide them with a shelter and food and if we can, a better life with a new family! Thank you all for your comments and we will continue to follow this and respond if we feel additional information is necessary!
So apparently if you weren’t concerned about this dog’s welfare BEFORE, (never mind that no one but locals knew this dog existed) you have no right to complain about the photographic evidence of what appears to be taxpayer funded abuse NOW, especially if your living room is warm. Oh and they heard the dog had once growled at someone. So obviously the next logical step was dragging the dog across the pavement by a chokepole and a net. Because public safety! And he might have missed a meal!
(Thanks Christine for alerting me to this photo.)
March 14, 2012
Someone apparently abandoned a dog on a road in York Co, SC. The dog had on a collar with the words “I need a home. Please take care of me.” handwritten on it. A Good Samaritan picked the dog up and took her to a shelter. The Good Sam was angered by the writing on the collar. She is quoted as saying, “Somebody had the gall to write in
marker, ‘I need a home, please take care of me.” I’m interested to hear your thoughts on this. What was your reaction to reading about the words written on the dog’s collar?
February 27, 2012
Reader Susan sent me this post from a contact of hers in the Kansas City area. Posted with permission:
A cute medium-sized black dog showed up at my brother and sister-in-laws house a few weeks ago. She had been dumped. She loved people and desperately wanted attention from anyone who would give it to her and even more, she wanted to come into their house. They have an elderly wiener dog and a senior (but not yet elderly) border collie. Those dogs were not happy with the new arrival so the stray dog stayed outside. They don’t have a fenced yard (their dogs are not ever unattended outdoors so they don’t need one). This new arrival was fed and watered until a solution could be found.
Numerous rescue groups were contacted. No one had room for this sweet dog. The local no-kill shelters were contacted. No one had room there either for this sweet dog. Then one day they awoke in the a.m. and the dog was gone. She had moved on in an attempt to find someone else who could help her.
OK, now I’m to the point of this post. How does one help a homeless stray if there is nowhere to take it (other than high-kill shelters)? In a high-kill shelter this dog would be doomed, as it was black. But our no-kill shelters are nearly always at capacity. Even rescue groups wouldn’t list this dog on their “Other dogs” web pages without a mountain of paperwork and a waiting list to “process” the paper work.
I am frustrated by this story, as my brother and sister-in-law were willing to help this dog, but were not in a situation to keep her for any length of time. So where does one take a stray dog so that is not condemned to die straight away…?
Is this a situation you have encountered? What are your thoughts on the subject?
November 14, 2011
In the American justice system, a person accused of a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. I’ve been wondering if unowned pets – including those surrendered to or picked up by animal control, those abandoned at or taken to a veterinary clinic, as well as those taken in by compassionate animal lovers – shouldn’t be legally afforded a certain status: Presumed Wanted. That is to say, every pet, regardless of whether he appears to have no owner or even if it is known that his owner surrendered ownership of him, should be granted the presumption of being wanted by someone. That someone might be the current owner (in the case of a lost pet) or a future adopter (in the case of a surrendered pet). If we were legally obligated to to presume that there are people out there who want every unowned pet in this country, that would be the end to pet killing, right? (Of course, as always, I separate needless killing from true euthanasia of pets who are medically hopeless and suffering.) Just as we do not sentence criminal defendants who are presumed innocent, we could not kill a pet we presume is wanted by someone.
I know there are many facets to this complex issue and I hope you will chime in with your thoughts. As a general outline, I am thinking in terms of the “finder” – the person or shelter who has possession of the pet – having a few basic obligations:
1. If the finder is unable or unwilling to provide basic humane care for the pet for at least the legally mandating holding period afforded to strays in shelters, he must turn the pet over to the shelter.
2. If the finder decides to provide basic humane care for the pet for at least the legally mandated holding period, he must report the found pet to his local shelter (or national database, if one existed).
3. Once the legally mandated holding period has expired, the finder must either offer the unclaimed pet for adoption, adopt the pet himself, or turn the pet over to the shelter so that he can be offered for adoption.
This would only work if every shelter offered listings (available at the shelter and online) of all found pets reported (or if we had a single national database for this information). Does your local shelter offer this? I tried searching for places to list a found pet online and there are many – too many to be useful in any meaningful way. This is an area that needs improvement. As things stand, when someone loses a pet, they are advised to browse the online listings of area shelters, visit the shelters in person since online listings may be lagging (or non-existent, in some cases), browse and post ads in the local newspaper, on Craigslist, the social networking sites, visit area vet clinics to inquire if they have taken in any strays and to post flyers, leave flyers posted at local pet businesses and on phone poles, conduct physical searches of the area where the pet was last seen, etc. All this must be done daily. While the owner works at his job, takes care of his kids, etc. It’s impossible. And if we had a legally mandated reporting system in place, it would be unnecessary.
The Presumed Wanted status for unowned pets would also remove the discretion of shelter staff and vets who receive strays to kill them, unless the pet was medically hopeless and suffering. It would instead obligate those who choose to accept a stray pet to provide care during the required holding period, report the pet to a central agency and then to offer the unclaimed pet for adoption.
As I said, I know this is a multifaceted issue. What are your thoughts?
June 22, 2011
This morning, I sent the following e-mail to Matt Pepper, Janet Hooks, Mayor Wharton and the MAS Board:
I would like to try and help any friendly dog at MAS from the “stray” area. An owner surrender, an unclaimed stray or any other dog who is not visible to the adopting public would be fine. Please allow me to advocate for one friendly dog of your choosing who currently has no advocate. I’d be happy to try and help a heartworm positive dog, an elderly dog, a Pitbull or ANY dog in the stray area. I would just like the opportunity to help a dog in need at MAS. Please send as much of the following info as possible so I can share with readers:
photo of the pet
how long we have to help the dog
any other information that you would like
I will post the information on the blog so the pet can be networked via crossposters and rescuers.
Cumberland Co Animal Services in NC is offering a new service: shooting stray dogs with crossbows. Veterinarian John Lauby is director of Animal Services and says, although his ACOs haven’t used the crossbow on any dogs yet, they might use it in “extreme circumstances”.
Lauby said pack dogs are wily and can’t be caught, trapped or tranquilized. They are able to slip away before tranquilizer darts take effect and can’t be found once they do, he said.
Most encounters with pack dogs occur in neighborhoods at night, when the dogs are active, Lauby said.
Shotguns and rifles can’t be used safely in residential areas because of the danger of ricochets.
But shooting a crossbow in a neighborhood in the dark is what – safe?
Since Dr. Lauby appears to have already ruled out catching, trapping, tranquilizing and shooting the packs of dogs, I wondered how the crossbow could be described as a “weapon of last resort”. What are the county’s preferred methods for removing the stray dogs? In order to have a “last resort”, you have to have a list of preferred options that must be exhausted first. So what’s on this list? I asked both the county manager and the shelter this very question yesterday but haven’t received any replies. If I do, I will update this post.
The story has been picked up by the AP so perhaps public pressure will force the county to come to their senses on this issue.
Thanks to everyone who sent me links about this story.
November 28, 2010
November 26, 2010
Well I certainly hope we are not going to become THAT HOUSE where people take unwanted pets (we don’t get any funding from the county, yo) but someone on our street drove up with a little black puppy for us today because she was stray and they didn’t want her to get hurt and weren’t sure what to do with her. She is petrified and piddling but extremely cute with a little foxy face. She appears to be healthy and I would guess she’s about 6 weeks old.
As we already have Linus who needs to be separated from some of the pack (due to aggression) and Randi who is being isolated (due to recent surgery), I had to improvise for an area for foxypup. I x-penned off a large area with papers, blankie and food but so far she hasn’t moved from the place we sat her down. Petrified. And piddling.
I wish I had some spare vaccines and puppy wormer on hand but I don’t. These things never happen at times of convenience doncha know. I’ve got an e-mail in to APL to see if/when they might have an opening. In the meantime, we’ll try to convey to foxypup that human beings and other dogs are not as horrible as she might think. And I’ll be praying the neighbors don’t come back tomorrow with 5 more like her.
August 8, 2010
So I’m asleep in bed this morning and Billy comes in saying “I was petting that dog. She came right up to me. Oh I got some video of her too.”
Billy is the one in this family that has “a way with dogs”. I am not so lucky but I am sometimes lucky enough to be able to ride on his coattails. I threw on some clothes, grabbed a bag of chicken wings (I need all the help I can get) and went outside. Sure enough, I too got in on the cuddling action. [Note: Scout likes to give full body hugs and lots of kisses.]
Seeing her up close for the first time, she was much smaller than we had thought. I had always figured her to be maybe a retriever bitch size but in fact, she’s more like a genuine LBD (Little Brown Dog). Even taking into consideration that she’s out of coat and underweight, she’s still much smaller than I thought.
One bag of chicken wings later, Scout now has Frontline on board (she’s got a few engorged ticks on her at the moment) and most importantly, I think she knows she’s got friends across the street. I guess I can take away my stalking chair set up behind the bush.
Here are some stills from the two vids Billy got of Scout (she’s eating some RMBs).
P.S.: I’m so happy!