Removing Barriers to Adoption

Learning Track

From lengthy adoption applications to restrictive adoption policies and a lot of red tape in between, some efforts to ensure good, lasting adoptions end up creating barriers to adoption instead. What’s the right balance?

Organizations including Maddie’s Fund® and the ASPCA have been funding and conducting research into new and less-structured adoption programs, while shelters across the country have been experimenting with them. Learn about these programs that include innovative marketing strategies and fee-waived adoptions that turn conventional wisdom on its head while still resulting in great adoptions. By focusing on what works to make those great matches and throwing out approaches that drive adopters away, shelters can save more dogs and cats – and create great, lasting relationships with their adopters, too.

Check out the following content brought to you by Maddie's Fund® and experts in this field.

Audience(s): Executive Leadership, Foster Caregivers, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers, Veterinary Team 

Open Adoptions

Webcast: Removing Barriers to Adoptions - How Evidence, Innovation and Compassion Grow Pet Adoptions
Cynthia D. Delany, DVM, and Kelly Lee
May 2015
Expand the pool of adopters by removing barriers to adoption such as cost, process or location. 

How-To: A Guide to Create a Successful Adoption Experience
Richmond SPCA
These adoption materials from the Richmond SPCA exemplify their belief that "Open ended questioning, active listening and discussion will help you build a positive rapport with the adopter and will help with the education process.”

Webinar Series: Adopters Welcome
The Humane Society of the United States
Gain practical tips with this free, 5-part webinar series Adopters Welcome. Participants will learn the philosophy, research and practical implementation tips behind this exciting new approach to increasing adoptions.

Adopters Welcome Manual
The Humane Society of the United States
Adopters Welcome highlights an approach to adoptions that embraces community members, encourages them to adopt, and helps them and their pets succeed.

Blog Post: The Million Cat Challenge Says Adopters Welcome
The Million Cat Challenge
Removing barriers to adoption is one of the five key initiatives of the Million Cat Challenge. Sponsoring organization Humane Society of the United States has launched a new initiative of their own.

Tools: User-Friendly Adoptions
Oregon Humane Society and ASPCAPro
You can download these adoption tools from the Oregon Humane Society and use them to create an adopter-friendly pet placement program based on trust and a positive relationship!

Tools: Open-Ended Questions for Adopters
Humane Society of Boulder Valley and ASPCAPro
Download a list of potential open ended questions to facilitate your adoption process, created by the Humane Society of Boulder Valley.

How-To: Embracing Meet the Adopters in Your Shelter
If you’re looking for materials you can use to train your staff members and volunteers about friendlier, more open adoption processes, these resources from ASPCAPro have you covered!

Adoption Requirements

Blog Post: Landlord Smamlord!
Dr. Emily Weiss and ASPCAPro
March 2011

This blog post from Dr. Weiss discusses lost opportunities when adoptions are denied based on housing and landlord check requirements.

Blog Post: Give That 2-Year-Old A Kitty!
Dr. Emily Weiss and ASPCAPro
August 2014
This blog post from Dr. Weiss briefly discusses research that suggests that the relationship between children, pets and increased empathy.

Fee-Waived and Discounted Adoptions

Webcast: Fears, Facts and Forever Homes - What We Know about Free Pet Adoptions
Susan B. Krebsbach, DVM
July 2014
Free pet adoptions have become more popular with shelters and rescue groups. Those who promote them find they can bring attention to senior pets, feral cats and pets with medical conditions. In addition, these promotions increase foot traffic to adoption events and shelters, raise awareness of shelter animals and attract positive media attention. At the same time, many people in the animal welfare community are concerned that pets adopted without a fee are more likely to be returned to the shelter, or worse, obtained thoughtlessly or for bad reasons. Which position is best supported by research and experience?

Research Article: The Saving Power of Fee-Waived Adoptions
The Edmonton Humane Society (EHS) teamed up with the ASPCA's Dr. Margaret Slater to take a look at how fee-waived adoptions worked out for the cats. Turns out they were very successful, proving that love doesn’t come with a price tag!

Research: Free Pet Adoptions - Study Results
Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida
November 2012
Do free adoptions increase the risk of poor care and abandonment? Results from a study conducted by researchers at Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida say no.

Article: The Truth about Free Cat Adoptions
August 2012
Research suggests that eliminating adoption fees does not devalue the animal in the eyes of the adopter, and that free adult cat adoption programs could "dramatically impact the lives of thousands of shelter cats who would otherwise reside in a shelter for months or be euthanized." Additionally, many high profile shelters across the country have implemented fee-waived cat adoptions very successfully.

Pets as Gifts

Webcast: Pets as Gifts? Wrap ‘em Up!
Emily Weiss, Ph.D. CAAB, Vice President of Shelter Research and Development, ASPCA
September 2014
We’ve been told giving pets as gifts leads to bad outcomes – but research doesn’t support that belief. Find out how gift adoptions can work for pets and people!

Research Article: Pets as Gifts
Is what we know about pets as gifts wrong? Research conducted by the ASPCA found "there is no correlation between getting an animal as a gift and an owner's love and attachment to the pet – even if that pet was a surprise gift – and no increased risk of relinquishment for dogs and cats received as gifts.”

Pet Returns

Blog Post: Satisfaction Guaranteed
Dr. Emily Weiss and ASPCAPro
November 2010
The Humane Society of Boulder Valley "Satisfaction Guaranteed” program is based on the following simple idea: "If you adopt and it isn't a good fit, then bring the pet back with no consequence and full money back because we want to guarantee your satisfaction!” Implementing it increased adoptions and created great relationships!

Blog Post: Returns Reframed
Bert Troughton and ASPCAPro
April 2012
This blog post from Bert Troughton discusses the benefits and opportunities of not penalizing people for returning adopted pets.