Discussion: What are the pluses and minuses of having a private pet adoption facility?

The idea of opening a private adoption facility to combat a regressive pound resisting reform seems to be a popular one.  I can understand the appeal.  Pet advocates who become frustrated with the refusal of shelter directors and staff to stop the killing want to take control of something themselves.  No compassionate person wants to feel helpless when trying to save the lives of shelter pets.

I think the important thing to keep in mind is that a private adoption center can be a part of a no kill community but does nothing to stop the pound from killing the animals in its care.  A no kill community takes commitment from rescuers, fosters, donors, volunteers and the shelter itself to take killing off the table.  Without the programs of the No Kill Equation being put into place by the municipal facility, there is little reason to believe that no kill is achievable, let alone sustainable.

I asked Mike Fry, executive director of Animal Ark in MN for his thoughts on this subject:

Increasing adoptions is an important component of shelter reform. Making shelter animals accessible to the public and convenient to adopt absolutely saves lives. Unfortunately, there are many problems at shelters that cannot and will not be addressed through adoptions. Some shelters have demonstrated, for example, an extreme willingness to kill healthy animals, even when their shelters have many, or even the majority of their cages empty.

Adoption programs can only help animals the shelter does not kill. Ending the killing requires more comprehensive reform, including foster care for bottle babies, veterinary care for medical cases, appropriate cleaning and vaccination protocols in the shelter so animals don’t get sick, volunteer programs that are vibrant and robust and more.

In short, adoption centers can be GREAT, especially if they are combined with the other critical aspects of shelter reform.

What do you think?

26 thoughts on “Discussion: What are the pluses and minuses of having a private pet adoption facility?

  1. I believe a adoption center to support the local animal shelter is a great idea. It will help the shelter to create a progressive adoption program. Of course, a adoption center just is a small part to keep a shelter from killing animals. You can’t stop the killing in a animal shelter just with a adoption center. The philosophy of the shelter itself has to change in order to truly stop the killing.

  2. A private adoption facility can make a dent in the kill rate, but unless it’s paired with activism, advocacy and agitation (and lots of alliteration, ha ha!) nothing will change. I believe that in most cases, without a director who’s committed to no kill, the only way a pound will really get reformed is by applying public pressure and going through city council/county commission.

  3. I think that there are some situations where the powers that be are so intractable and so invested in killing that an adoption center is a very good option.

    Does it make ANY change at the shelter itself? No.

    But what it does do is save lives of animals who would almost certainly die otherwise, gives people an opportunity to volunteer outside of the official shelter volunteer group (yes, FoMAS, I’m looking at you), and it provides an alternative for adoption for people who are not comfortable with a shelter environment (especially one that’s been in the papers for repeated neglect and abuse of animals).

    And when no kill comes to the community – as it must, eventually, for all of them – the adoption center already has knowledge of the community combined with people who are invested in life saving.

  4. I agree that an adoption center will not attain a 90+% save rate at Memphis Animal Services until city officials support a No-Kill effort and MAS implements all the programs on the NKE.

    That said, we are still going to need an adoption center and we are going to start working on one now.

    1. I’m so pleased that you are, Ona! Yes, an adoption center functions outside of the shelter, but on the plus side, THE ADOPTION CENTER FUNCTIONS OUTSIDE OF THE SHELTER!

      1. I am bringing in Gina Lynette, a Graphic Facilitator from Nashville to facilitate the meeting about an adoption center. The meeting will be open to everyone that wants to contribute to the planning of this center. It will be in early October and she will be back for a follow up in January. We are working on the dates now.

      1. Gina Lynette will be here October 2nd to facilitate the meeting and it will be in the evening. We are working on a meeting location right now.

    2. Ona: Please keep me personally informed of any advances in getting an adoption center started. I’m very interested. Memphis needs a full time opened center, yesterday. There are too many opportunities for saving lives & helping people to not have one here. If MAS won’t save adoptable lives, we will.

      What can I do to help?

  5. There has been some talk locally about opening an adoption center to try and counter the pet killing facility. I don’t know how serious it is but if it happens, I will certainly blog about it.

  6. Ona, can you please keep us up to date? Send me an email to jimlord@me.com. My wife has been involved in TNR here locally and was the clinic director for MidSouth Spay & Neuter Services. We would love to be involved!

  7. The problem in our little town is just that. We are too small. Our “pound” as they call it, is small and they don’t keep the animals long enough for anyone to get the time to go look and see what they have. They have very short hours and only 2 days a week that people can go look. We have another so-called no kill shelter, but to turn one into that shelter, they make you PAY them to take the animal then it costs you over $150 just to get a cat.. then it’s up to you to have the animal vetted, spayed or neutered. So that one is out for nothing but the money. We could use ONE NO KILL SHELTER if we had the facility and I know we have enough volunteers. We just don’t have a facility large enough to take them all in. We have a Vet that would do just about anything he could do for nothing to help but like I said, around here, if most of the people that have a large enough facility to handle all the animals, are in it for nothing but the money. If I weren’t phyiscally disabled, I would go have a chat with the board of supervisors and see if I could handle the whole thing and use the facility we have here. It’s just been built a few years ago and is a great place but they just choose not to open like they should and will not take volunteers to help. I’ve tried to volunteer and they won’t allow them This just doesn’t seem quite right for the animals. Seems they would just love to kill them all when they come in and not mess with them at all but still won’t take any volunteers. Makes no sense at all to me. But I’m going to keep trying and see if we can get it done. I figure if you throw shit at the wall long enough, some of it’s bound to stick! Wish us luck! “Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened” Kathie


    1. Bless you, Kathie, for trying. Don’t give up, keep trying. You’re not throwing shit to the wall, but throwing the wall to the shit, it sounds like. Sooner or later, your wall will stick to their shit.

      Who feeds the dogs/cats & cares for them until they’re killed? How long do they keep them before they’re killed? How many paid employees do they have? Something is wrong to not want any volunteers

  8. This is essentially how the San Francisco Shelter operates – animal control is next door, and they go over there and pull animals for their fantastic adoption center – at least that’s how it was when I was there last, some many years ago.

  9. I think the adoption center can be a great asset BUT the shelter will still have the power of killing. They could choose to kill animals before the adoption center volunteers and rescues arrive. The neglect and abuse of pets in the shelter will still be occurring. But the adoption center can still be an asset to the community. If the killing does not stop at the shelter the adoption center will continually operate in crisis mode. The shelter will tell you to come save pets just hours before they kill them. And you will be forced to choose to make space or tell the shelter that they are not giving you enough time.

    1. I’ve been thinking seriously lately about how I can get an adoption center off the ground that would work in conjunction with the shelter. But your comments echo my concern – that the adoption center would be in a constant state of crisis. I have already been told by the shelter staff that they “can’t tell me when or how many or even which animals will die” until the decision is made ON kill day. Without the shelter being committed to NO Kill, I feel like an adoption center would just be the shelter’s crutch.

      1. I would characterize it more as the shelter’s fall guy. Because they will blame you for not taking the animals they “have to” kill b/c they are open admission.

      2. Crutch or not, an adoption center will still be saving lives. An adoption center will still make the “shelter” look like the bad guys, and rightly so.

        I don’t believe city/county “shelters” are going to stop killing until every administration is replaced. What can be done is open our own life saving adoption centers to show them how it’s done. I am all for & will support any adoption center.

  10. Is it feasible to “privatise” shelters? I would have thought that in the current economic climate local authorities would bite off a rescue’s hand if it offered to take over their shelter and the associated costs.

    As an example – see Bath Cats and Dogs Home admittedly a shelter in a very nice part of the country where animal problems are not as bad as in some places, but they are the city pound as well as a rescue.

    1. A private no-kill nonprofit shelter that follows the No Kill Equation and has good leadership can be very successful.

      I have significant concerns about for-profit “shelters” that are also operating animal control.

      I’ve seen a private for-profit animal control operate in a city of about 400,000 people where they are out looking in people’s windows and automatically sending out fines if people license more pets than the city ordinance (by-law) allows. They appear to take every opportunity to increase their profits and write tickets. I would hate to live there.
      (Some info and a short video on ineffective laws: http://nationalcanineresearchcouncil.com/dog-legislation/ineffective-laws/)

      They have a very small “shelter” with limited room to display adoptable pets. They apparently now spay and neuter animals before adoption. Rescues can pull animals, but I don’t think very many cats get transferred out. They have a vet come in to kill pets twice a week. The citizens have no say in how the shelter is run. All taxpayers can do is ask city council not to renew their contract and explore alternatives (and hopefully change the bad laws (http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/shelter-reform/).

      There are a growing number of successful examples of no-kill communities as well as ones that are on their way; see the No-Kill Communities blog, http://www.no-killnews.com/

  11. An adoption center is a great idea in general, especially in rural areas where there may not be a whole lot of other options around. I mean, more animals get adopted, which is a positive in the NKE, so what harm can be caused in that?

    The bad thing is that it’s never going to stop certain shelters (I’m looking at you, MAS) from killing animals for the sake of it. MAS uses the excuse of not having empty cages to kill for space when it’s quite clear that they have more than enough space. If someone takes 10 dogs from MAS and brings it to the adoption center, it saves those 10 dogs, but there are countless others that will be left behind to fend for themselves, even if there are 50 available cages. That’s the real issue with shelter reform; attitude. Having said that though, I do believe that opening up more adoption centers and shelters are a good thing, it’s just not going to solve all of our problems.

  12. As I see it there are two models that have proven to work for creating No Kill communities.

    One is that the city/county municipal pound adopts the policies of the No Kill Equation and stops the killing. Examples of this model are Ithaca and Charlottesville.

    The second is that the city/county pound teams up with a private organization and uses the No Kill Equation to stop the killing. Examples of this model are Reno and Austin. This is the model working for the organization I am president of in East Tennessee where we are achieving 95%+ save rates. At first our city shelter was unwilling and reticent to step into the No Kill world but now they are fully on board and their efforts to save shelter pets that not long ago would have killed is amazing.

    I agree that starting a private organization/shelter to save shelter pets without the city/county municipal shelter being a willing No Kill participant is not a model that will lead to a sustainable No Kill community, if it can be achieved at all. There really has to be an organized effort to bring shelter reform if the local shelter shuns lifesaving change. I would describe not advocating to bring shelter reform but still pulling animals from an unwilling municipal shelter as enabling the shelter to continue the killing unchallenged. You can’t achieve No Kill by hiding the philosophy that makes saving shelter pets possible and sustainable… Steve @ No Kill Revolution

    1. I fully agree with Steve. The shelter I work for still is a municipal (No Kill) shelter but that also will change sometime down the road. I see this more and more across the country that municipalities contract out animal care and control. This does have advantages for both sides as we have seen in recently here in Maryland after the Court of Appeals ruled that all Pit Bull type dogs are inherently dangerous. The municpal shelters had more difficulties to adapt to the situation than the shelters run by a non-profit organisation.

  13. Memphis Adoption Center
    planning meeting October 2, 2012
    Memphis Junior Academy
    50 N. Mendenhall
    Memphis, TN 38117
    Auditorium/Lunch Room
    Register 5:30pm – 6:00pm
    Meeting will start at 6:00pm

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