Long Term Shelter Pets

Screenshot from Twitter.

Using Twitter to promote a dog for adoption. ✔️

Nice photo showing a bit of the dog’s personality. ✔️

523 days in the shelter. ❌

This is not intended to target the PSPCA for shaming. Rather, I hope to help find this dog a home and possibly reach some shelters who are in the same boat.

No pet should be in a shelter for this long. Even the absolute best shelter environment is terrible for dogs and cats, both physically and mentally. The longer the stay, the greater the unintended harm.

Assuming a shelter is marketing its pets well (posting good online listings for every pet in its care, taking them to daily off-site adoption events, providing exercise, play and training time while adopters are in the building, connecting with rescues, etc.), hopefully turnaround time from intake to live outcome will be short. But once a pet hits 30 days in the shelter (and I admit I’m picking that number somewhat arbitrarily, maybe a different number would be better), I think the shelter needs to reassess its efforts. This is not to say the shelter has failed but simply that some pets require a different approach. Maybe continue with the current marketing tactics and add in some new ones. Or replace one of the current tactics with something different. There are many possibilities but the key is to act and to do so urgently.

When I visited the PSPCA’s website to see how easy it is for a person to adopt a dog, I saw this:

Screenshots from the PSPCA website.

I would not characterize these requirements as easy. The dog fees are high, bringing every member of the household is a potential barrier to adoption and bringing every dog in the home with proof of vaccines is a huge obstacle. I can readily imagine many adopters who would be dissuaded from adopting due to these requirements.

Again, not trying to pile on the PSPCA. If these adoption guidelines are getting everyone out the front door within days (or weeks, at most) they’re obviously working. (If not, I hope the shelter will reconsider.) But apparently they aren’t working for Shadow.

I’m assuming Shadow has some special needs. If we’re being honest, most dogs do. So in looking for that special person to adopt Shadow, why not remove as many barriers as possible? My suggestions: Change his fee to pay-what-you-will (free but perfectly fine to ask for a donation of an amount chosen by the adopter) and drop the requirements that every person and dog in the home must be brought to the shelter. Then, get creative with some marketing techniques. If Shadow fails to attract adopters because of a hesitancy with strangers, have people meet him via Zoom so they can see how he behaves once he gets to know someone.

Whatever the reasons why Shadow, or any long term shelter pet, hasn’t been adopted, they should be addressed urgently. Otherwise, I fear Shadow’s time in the shelter will soon be measured in years. Nobody wants that.

If you have any marketing ideas for long term shelter pets or for Shadow specifically, please leave a comment. And if you are on social media, please share Shadow. I’m hesitant with strangers too and we gotta stick together.

2 thoughts on “Long Term Shelter Pets

  1. Wouldn’t it be easier for the shelter to take the dog to the potential adopter’s home to meet everyone? That’s what I do when I adopt out cats.

  2. I’ve seen situations like this before – a dog has been with a group forever, the process to adopt is daunting and the adoption fee is through the roof. How about waiving the adoption fee and actually doing some marketing to get the dog into a home? This is mind boggling. I would be happy to do a talking video for Shadow or a short slideshow set to music to try to reach people in other ways. I’ll reach out to the email address and see if they are open to something new.

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