Discussion: Are Shelters Keeping Online Listings for Lost/Adoptable Animals Current?

Screengrab from Petfinder.com

When I was looking for a beagle recently, I was checking Petfinder, PetHarbor and a few other sites day and night.  I wasn’t limiting myself to facilities within reasonable driving distance either.  I really wanted to help a beagle who needed a home and I figured that a municipal shelter was probably the way to go.  But every single beagle I inquired on at a public shelter had already been adopted and the facility had failed to update its online listings.  Or so they said.  Assuming no one was fabricating an adoption story, because “We already killed that dog and haven’t bothered to take down the listing” isn’t going to go over as smoothly, the issue is still troublesome.  Was my experience an outlier or fairly common?  I got to wondering:

How many other pets listed online at these facilities are also unavailable for adoption?

How many pets are sitting at these places with no online listings at all because no one is making it a priority to keep the listings current?

When these shelters get behind on listing animals in need, do they also postpone killing, regardless of whether the mandatory holding period has expired in order to give owners a chance to see their lost pets online and adopters a chance to fall in love with the pet’s photo?

What would John Q. Public think if all the shelter pets he inquired about were already adopted and the listings weren’t current?  (One possibility of what he might think:  Shelters apparently adopt pets out so quickly that it’s impossible to even keep accurate listings online.  I guess there isn’t any problem as far as shelter pets needing homes.  I may as well go to another source for a pet.)

Have any readers had similar – or totally different – experiences when looking for a pet via shelter listings online?

Does your local shelter keep its online listings current?

21 thoughts on “Discussion: Are Shelters Keeping Online Listings for Lost/Adoptable Animals Current?

  1. My local pound only ever lists the pets they have deemed “adoptable,” which amounts to only 25-50% of the pets in the pound at they time. The rest are never pictured anywhere, and to find out if the pound has your pet you have to actually go in and check. Other pounds around here either do the same or list only the pets anyone gets around to listing at any given time. Some rely on volunteers or “friends” groups to post the pets to Facebook and never list online. I just recently got a message telling me that the Samson County, NC, pound has stopped listing altogether and only works with one single rescue group. I haven’t had a chance to discover if that’s true or not, but that would not surprise me one bit. Unless there’s some sort of regulation by the state Dept. of Ag. I don’t think anyone will every be able to use pounds’ online listings to find their pets or know what animals are available.


    1. Oh jeez, your local shelter sounds exactly like mine. They also give a lot of grief to local Facebook pages that advertise lost animals, apparently due to the loss of revenue when the animal doesn’t go through the shelter’s insane “pay this fee or your animal dies” system.


  2. Yes, our local shelter in New Braunfels TX keeps their listings current! Animals are photographed as part of intake process and are posted online. When adoptions are processed, the animal is automatically removed. The Shelter Manager software updates the sites every night. We try to replace intake photos with better ones.


      1. It wasn’t always like that…in 2015 the Humane Society Board hired a new, talented, dedicated, compassionate, and hard-working Director to run the shelter. The new Director has made a world of difference! The shelter is a different place now :)


      1. Great things are happening here. AAC’s live release rate is up from around 93% to 97% since Tawny Hammond took over as chief animal services officer. Seems like she’s committed to true no kill rather than just keeping the nominal status. I don’t think we’ll be seeing any “kill for space” threats this year during kitten season.


  3. In our area, nope. The actual animal control shelter has no easy to access lists. The local HS tries but the turnover is so fast they cannot keep up typically. Most of the tiny rescues around here don’t because of quick turnover and/or they have no computer literacy or time to update things and it is a major chore to list the animals and there are no volunteers who can do so.

    Now quick turnover includes both euth’d “unadoptables”, normal adoptions and the animals that get shipped in from the south that are adopted sight unseen before hitting the shelter/rescues.


      1. Yup. The new listings (when the occasional update happens) are typically on facebook, but the facebook pages are for friends only and are not on any public site.


  4. From a shelter perspective, there are several reasons why or why not listings are current. First, it depends on the shelter management software being used. As example, Chameleon is good but at the same time extremely expensive and most shelters can’t afford it. There is PetPoint, which is widely used do it’s affordable price plus the offer to purchase microchips at a lower price. Said that, one downfall of PetPoint is the missing link to Petfinder. PetPoint is using it’s own website called Petango (http://www.petango.com). Means Petfinder entrees have to be done manually which takes time. Usually lost/found pets are not being listed on those websites during the stray hold time. Many shelters have established Lost/Found Facebook pages which are actually very successful and welcome in the communities.
    Said all that, the main problem is missing industry standards for connecting shelter management software with existing pet listing websites.


  5. Our local humane society does a great job of this. Local ac, not so much. But they don’t mind killing so why bother?


  6. I have been blogging for pet rescue for a relatively long time and have typically not relied on Petfinder for up-to-date info. I can totally understand the difficulties potential adopters have, as you discussed and experienced. It is probably why the numerous companies that host pet classifieds are where many potential adopters go. If shelters and rescues could keep Petfinder updated, potential adopters would go there. I do like to use a Petfinder link for concise bio/photo info when available. I feel Petharbor is reliable for up-to-date info. There are other software programs and sites besides Petfinder and Petharbor, but I am just commenting here on those two for now (I list several of them on my How-To page near the top http://www.lizardmarsh.net/p/how-to.html). For urgent pets, there will soon be 911FosterPets which is an initiative launched by Betsy Saul, the founder of Petfinder. I would strongly encourage shelters and rescues to sign up for it. More info at: http://www.lizardmarsh.net/2016/02/usa-beyond-petfinder-founder-betsy-saul.html I am interested in whether Shirley’s readers know about effectiveness of http://www.civicplus.com/ as I have only recently come across it?


  7. I know my county in FL has Petharbor linked so the postings there are updated in real time. Petharbor is a bit delayed but listings are removed with two or three days when animals are adopted.

    They are far from perfect (they refuse to allow TNR and kill “wild” cats) but they do work with rescues, have a foster system, and give the public first acess to all adoptable (healthy and friendly, regardless of breed) animals before sending them to rescues. Thus saving the spaces in rescue for animals truly in need and not just the cutest/easiest to flip.


  8. In Edmonton, Alberta, Canada – My local Humane Society claims that they post every animal available for adoption online with a picture, and update the listings daily. There is much praising and back-patting that goes on. But . . . Somehow, the numbers just don’t seem to make sense. I suppose it comes down to how you define “adoptable”, I guess. Dogs in foster homes, or under vet care, are not posted. A few years ago, they were at “capacity” with nearly 150 dogs, and turning all dogs away. Less than twenty were listed online. Yesterday, there were TWO dogs online. Which totally makes sense for a large city of nearly 800,000 people recently going through a recession.


  9. I run a No Kill shelter and sometimes we just do not have time to update ours very quickly. Our shelter has never killed an animal since it opened in 2008.



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