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At Their Service ... with a Smile

The adoption process should be about helping clients get to "yes"—and saying "no" respectfully

The adoption process should be about helping clients get to "yes"—and saying "no" respectfully

Richmond SPCA adoption counselor Kimie James finishes an adoption by providing a card with contact information for the shelter and a behavior helpline. Building a relationship with the adopter allows the shelter to continue engaging the customer through behavior and training support for the pet. RON LEONE/RICHMOND SPCA

Consider the experience of Barbara Leshinsky, a New York City resident who was looking to adopt a dog earlier this year. She was trying to find one that didn’t shed, because her 12-year-old daughter has allergies. So she did the first thing many people do when they're seeking a pet: She went online. Through Petfinder, she found many animal welfare groups in her region offering adoptable dogs.

That part was easy.

"There was this great-sounding dog—a poodle mix—so I wrote an e-mail to this woman at a private rescue in Long Island," Leshinsky says."“She gets back to me with this totally bizarre e-mail that says, 'Well, where do you live? Is your yard fenced in? What would you feed the dog' So many questions."

Though Leshinsky was surprised by all the questions, she answered the e-mail. "I said I'd feed the dog wet food and dry, that I have a house up in the country, where it's beautiful. And then it was, 'I need references from your vet, from other people'—it was like I was adopting a kid here. I actually did adopt my daughter from China; that was a little harder," she says, chuckling.

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