Shelter Adoption: The Feel Good Hit of the Summer

The Poodle and Dog Blog has a good post about a man who turned in 5 puppies to a MN shelter claiming to have found them in a box on the road. The local news picked up the story and all the pups were quickly adopted. Turns out, the pups were his daughter’s and he had brought them to the shelter from her home:

Since she lived outside the city limits, he was afraid the shelter would not take them.
The father confessed that he made up the story.
But I have to wonder at the fate of the puppies if there had been a non story of a man bringing in a litter of puppies that his daughter couldn’t find homes for.
Since there are obviously many people who want a dog if they know one needs a home, maybe shelters and local media could work together to find creative ways to market dogs when they don’t come in with an exciting story.

Good thinking. It seems like we often hear shelter staff berating the public in the media for failure to neuter their pets and thus, deflecting the blame for killing adoptable pets. And well intentioned rescuers regularly bombard e-mail lists and forums with dire pleas on behalf of shelter pets indicating they will be killed within X hours if no one steps up.

All this strikes me as negative, same old, same old, failed tactics that have gotten us to this point in time where it’s become “acceptable” to kill healthy/treatable pets in shelters. The fact is, as illustrated in the story above, people want to help pets in need. The public doesn’t want to be blamed, chastised or otherwise made to feel guilty – and even if they did, that approach is not working.

Pet owners need education and access to affordable spay-neuter services. They need help learning about low cost alternatives to providing “ideal” care for pets during hard economic times. They need to feel that their local shelter is a clean, safe, humane facility where they could bring their family to look for a pet or surrender one if it comes to that.

Although not every shelter pet comes with a dramatic rescue story, the public can and should still feel good about adopting. “Feel good” is built-in to any adoption story and shelters need to make the most of that. How shelters use the media to help get pets into homes is up to them. Seeing the overwhelming response from people wanting to help the box o’ pups is encouraging. But clearly, the blame game is an epic fail.

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