Although it would be handy to have
a standardized, no-kill blueprint, the fact is each community must
come up with its own plan for getting to the no-kill
But in most communities, it starts when one shelter
makes the decision to stop killing healthy and treatable animals.
When an adoption guarantee shelter is in place, it’s easier to build
a no-kill community.
Getting to the no kill goal takes strong
leadership; people who are not just dedicated to doing good work but
who are willing to set quantifiable, lifesaving goals and commit to
reaching them within a given time frame.
It takes a can-do
spirit, creativity and community support and involvement. The
broader and more inclusive the collaboration, generally, the easier
Then come strategies for implementation. Some
great ideas are already in play and can be found on this web site
Funded Projects. But without a doubt, one way many communities
are saving more lives is by increasing adoptions. We’ve summarized
some adoption programs that a lot of folks are using. They are both
programs. And while they may not be new, they are
It doesn’t take a shelter or even paid staff to
boost adoptions. An incredible amount of new homes can be found
through volunteer-based efforts.
Foster Programs: Some
rescue groups take animals from shelters and temporarily house them
in a network of foster homes until permanent placement can be found.
Friends Connection in Lodi, California annually places nearly
1,000 cats and dogs largely through foster homes.
Outreach: Some rescue groups take shelter animals to shopping
malls or community centers so the animals can be seen by large
numbers of perspective adopters. One very creative group has worked
with animal control agencies at one end and local synagogues and
churches at the other to set up Pet Adoption Days in the church
parking lots. As many as 30 animals per day are adopted at these
sites. Rescue groups can also take advantage of pet retailers like
PetsMart and Petco who generously
open their doors to showcase available
Events: Adoptathons are great showcases for
homeless animals. No
More Homeless Pets in Utah routinely placed over 400 animals at
their weekend Super Adoption Events.
Volunteers can organize advertising campaigns to promote shelter
adoptions or come up with interesting twists on promoting adoptions.
One volunteer group made up post cards of available shelter animals
and sent them to everyone they knew.
Store Windows: Department stores and upscale specialty stores
may be willing to offer volunteer groups window or in-store space to
showcase adoptable animals. PAWSChicago enlists retailers on Chicago’s elite
Michigan Avenue and on the upscale Armitage Street to show off
homeless animals from the city’s animal control shelter. The
publicity for these events is fantastic.
significantly boost adoptions with their own creative
Adoption Outreach: As with volunteer
outreach programs, shelter staff can take available animals to
shopping malls, community events and downtown businesses for greater
exposure to potential adopters. An Adoption Outreach program is also
a perfect "vehicle" for fundraising and public
Volunteer Program: Volunteers are
invaluable as adoption counselors, dog walkers, cat socializers,
foster parents, groomers, behaviorists, and adoption outreach
Awareness, publicity, advertising: TV, radio
and newspapers are good about helping shelters with free pet
adoption spots. Local sports teams might work with a shelter on an
adoption promotion. Shelters can hold a pet walk, a Halloween
costume party, an Easter pet parade, a Black Tie and Tails Ball.
They can generate heart warming feature stories about shelter pets
and adoptions, table at local shopping centers and partner up with a
local business to get sponsorship for
Website: A good website is an invaluable
tool. Nowadays, shelters without websites can post available animals
at no cost through Petfinder.com.
Shelters can participate in national Adoptathons, Adopt-A-Dog/Cat
months or make up wild and crazy promotions all their own to enlist
the support of local media and bring the plight of homeless animals
to the communities’ attention.
Improving shelter animals’ looks and behavior are
other ways to increase adoptions.
Grooming: No one
wants to adopt a scruffy, stinky pet. Beauty makeovers for shelter
animals can be accomplished either with volunteer assistance or by a
mutually beneficial arrangement with a local groomer (e.g. in
exchange for grooming service, the shelter provides advertising in
adoption packages or gives the groomer a rent-free space in the
shelter to groom the animals of private
Behavior: Sweet and lovable dogs and cats
who are out of control, jumping up, or are extremely shy or timid,
are frequently passed over in shelters. Behavior training and dog
walking (to burn off excess energy, reduce stress and improve kennel
presentation) can be accomplished with trained volunteers or by a
mutually beneficial arrangement with a local dog trainer or dog
training club. It’s also effective to teach cute and adorable tricks
to hard-to-place animals, sure to melt the hearts of potential
more homes is as simple as expanding hours or providing
Hours: Is it convenient for people to
adopt? Facilities should be open all day on Saturday and Sunday and
weekday evenings as well.
Environment: The shelter
should be a place people want to visit. A homey lobby with cozy
settings for the animals is a great way to do it. It’s also
important that the shelter look clean, and smell
Customer Service: Ideally, staff has had some
professional training in customer service so that adopters feel
valued and respected and get the advice and information they need to
make a wise adoption decision.
Freebies offered with adoptions are always good motivators. In
addition to spay/neuter surgery, and vaccinations including FELV and
rabies, these might include leashes, collars, id tags, and a first
free medical exam.
Adoption Incentives: Special
incentives may be needed for animals who have been in the shelter
the longest. These can include cat cozys, free pet food, dog
training classes, free dog grooming, or free routine medical care
for three months, underwritten by local