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Adopters Welcome

Finding a loving and happy home for every animal waiting to start a new life—that’s the goal of everyone who works in sheltering and rescue. Examining our adoption policies to ensure they are based on current knowledge--and not good-intentioned, but mistaken, beliefs--is crucial to achieving our goal. Adopters Welcome challenges us to change the way we approach potential adopters. Rather than look for ways to disqualify them from taking home a pet (do they have a fenced yard? does their landlord approve?), let's find ways to send them home with a pet by engaging in conversation and providing information and resources.

Adopters Welcome
  • Adopters Welcome manual

    Adopters Welcome highlights an approach to adoptions that embraces community members, encourages them to adopt, and helps them and their pets succeed. The approach also acknowledges the connection among all local adoption agencies and the impact adoptions, or lack of adoptions, can have on all of the animals in a community.

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Most recent Tools and Resources > Adopters Welcome

  • Blog Post

    Finding a cat a home

    Are we missing the good apples while trying to catch the bad?

    I was traveling recently to conduct a series of Rethinking the Cat trainings in Kansas and Oklahoma through our Humane State program. Having done many of these cat trainings around the country, we hear many of the same concerns, challenges and questions—often with a unique local flair. 

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  • Blog Post

    Just the facts, ma’am … or maybe not!

    Are we holding on to outdated beliefs just to make our brains comfortable? Inga Fricke explains how challenging our biases can help us save more pets.

    We are truly living in a remarkable age, when new studies and data on sheltering are shaping and confirming best practices seemingly every day. For the first time ever, we can truly set policies based on what we actually know, not what we think we know.

    But no matter how much science and evidence is produced to dispel a myth (like “black dogs are overlooked for adoption”) or support a new best practice (such as eliminating adoption barriers), our field is often slow to embrace new information and make change.

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  • Blog Post

    'Return' is not a dirty word

    Pets who come back present opportunities for us to learn

    When I travel the country sharing the Adopters Welcome philosophy with shelters and rescue groups, there’s one refrain I hear over and over:  “But if we eliminate our home checks, landlord checks and other hurdles and actually embrace people who want to adopt, rather than scrutinize and judge them, the animal might get returned!”

    My standard response: "So what?"

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  • Magazine Article

    In fosters we trust

    At Charleston Animal Society, Bella’s adoption ambassador treated her to a photoshoot—soon after, the senior dog was adopted.

    Pioneering program empowers fosters to seal the deal

    Increased capacity, decreased returns and new pools of potential adopters? The ASPCA promises all that and more through its Adoption Ambassadors program, which encourages organizations to empower—and, most importantly, trust—their fosters.

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  • Blog Post

    Adopt, don’t shop!

    But only if you’re perfect. Otherwise, don’t even bother trying.

    I’m staring at my “Save a Life—Adopt!” magnet as I type this. I’m sure you all have a similar version of this message displayed somewhere on your car, your refrigerator, your filing cabinet. We in the animal welfare field know the harsh reality: Great pets are dying every day for lack of homes, yet people inexplicably still choose breeders and pet stores over rescues and shelters. When that happens, when someone perfectly capable of adopting chooses to buy a pet instead, we shake our heads, silently—ok, sometimes not so silently!—curse them, and ask, “Why don’t they get it?

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  • Magazine Article

    Raising rates in Indiana

    Staffers at Almost Home Humane Society in Indiana celebrate after a 48-hour adoption event in 2013.

    Shelter’s philosophical overhaul opens floodgates of community support

    It can take a bit of courage and disregard for the status quo to achieve great change for animals. At Almost Home Humane Society in Indiana, staff revamped the organization’s policies and programs to increase their live-release rate to more than 90 percent. The improvements, from the basic (holding creative, attention-getting adoption promotions) to the more involved (lobbying city officials for friendlier community cat policies) are proof of what shelters can accomplish when they let go of fear-based policies—and bring fresh ideas and energy to their lifesaving programs.

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