Removing Barriers to Adoption

May 2015 by Cynthia D. Delany and Kelly Lee

Audience: Executive Leadership, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers

Video Length:

Because people in animal welfare often see terrible things befall pets, and because of genuine concern for the animals, we’ve sometimes gone overboard in terms of regulating, requiring, constraining, screening and even getting in the way of successful adoptions.

After all, even a home that’s good instead of perfect will be better for pets than an animal shelter. A growing body of research is suggesting adoptions done with less intrusive methods of pet-adopter matchmaking are just as effective as, and even more successful than, those with lots of hoops to jump through.

Hear presenters from one private and one municipal shelter in Yolo County, CA, as they join Maddie's Institute® to share their community’s experience with Removing Barriers to Adoption: How Evidence, Innovation and Compassion Grow Pet Adoptions.

This webcast is the fifth in a five-part series on the key initiatives of the Million Cat Challenge. Its focus will be on providing information to implement successful strategies that result in lasing, loving adoptions at a greater rate than results from more restrictive approaches.

Removing Barriers to Adoption: How Evidence, Innovation and Compassion Grow Pet Adoptions will be of interest to individual advocates, rescue groups, shelter staff and volunteers, and anyone who may be struggling to understand the appropriateness of this sea change in adoption approaches, including donors and board members.

This webcast is part of an ongoing series of educational programs from Maddie's Institute, a program of Maddie's Fund®, the nation's leading funder of shelter medicine education. Maddie's Institute brings cutting edge shelter medicine information from universities and animal welfare leaders to shelter veterinarians, managers and staff as well as private practice veterinarians, rescue groups and community members to increase the lifesaving of homeless dogs and cats community-wide.

Cynthia D. Delany, DVM

Dr. Delany graduated from UCLA with a degree in Business/Economics in 1993 and from UC Davis with her DVM in 2000. Dr. Delany has worked as an animal shelter veterinarian, high volume spay/neuter veterinarian and an emergency veterinarian for the past 15 years.  Initially working for the UC Davis Shelter Medicine Program from 2001 to 2004 at Sacramento County Animal Care and Regulation.  Dr. Delany is currently working for the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program as the Supervising Shelter Veterinarian for Yolo County Animal Services (YCAS). 

Dr. Delany has been working with YCAS for 4 years, starting many new programs, including programs focusing on improved population management, increasing live release rates and environmental enrichment in the shelter. 

A particular area of emphasis for Dr. Delany has been on improving cat live release rates at the YCAS shelter.  Beginning in 2011, she has helped this shelter to implement programs in all 5 areas of the Million Cat Challenge’s Five Key Initiatives – including alternatives to intake, managed admission, capacity for care, removing barriers to adoption and return to field.  As a result of these new programs, the shelter has seen cat live release rates go from 30% to 89% for adult cats and 30% to 94% for kittens. 

In addition to her work at YCAS, Dr. Delany has helped other shelters with population management, implementing new life saving programs, shelter software use, reporting and statistics.  She also runs a private, non-profit rescue group that rescues sick, injured and newborn animals.    When not focusing on saving lives, Dr. Delany enjoys training and competing with her dogs in the sport of dog agility (all rescued dogs, of course).  She is also an advocate of positive reinforcement-based training of all animals, and uses these techniques successfully with her own dogs, cats, draft horse, miniature donkeys and Bactrian camels.


Kelly Lee

Rescue and behavior coordinator, Yolo County SPCA's office at Yolo County Animal Services.


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