It’s the age-old question, how do I increase adoptions at my animal shelter or animal rescue? Well, to increase adoptions you must send more pets home! Seems obvious right? It is an obvious concept, but how do you actually do this? Below is a list of ideas to help you get started sending more animals into loving homes!

1. Evaluate your rescue or shelter to determine which pets are not going home right away to really understand which area needs your attention. Six common reasons animals are staying in shelters longer than others are listed below.

    • Pets not spayed or neutered. These are pets that are sitting in your shelter or sitting in a foster home waiting for a spay or neuter time slot.
    • Pets in foster. These are pets that do not need to come back to the shelter. We encourage you to start thinking more progressive about foster-to-adopt and empowering your fosters to facilitate the adoptions on their own.
    • Pets that are sick or injured. Pets that have a minor illness don’t need to be sitting in a shelter. For example, a kitten with a minor upper respiratory infection. A short talk with the adopter about medications and what to look for and do in case things don’t get better frees up a foster or kennel space when that kitten can go right to its new happy home.
    • Pets that are behaviorally challenged. Can you as a shelter or rescue provide help to adopters so they can work with the pet at their home?
    • Pets that are medically challenged. Are you able to provide some support, like provide low-cost medication, or have your rescue or shelter’s DVM talk with the family about the pet’s future care to help facilitate an adoption?
    • Pets who are not perfect or 100% ready to go home. You can keep holding onto an animal, waiting for them to be 100% ready to go home with the perfect family, but this type of thinking results in unnecessary deaths. Let them go home.

2. Don’t assume what the public wants and let them decide. Don’t let yourself get in the habit of assuming that the public doesn’t want to adopt animals because you think they are less desirable than others. People want to be a hero, so let them! Let them take home the needy senior dog or the young kitten that just needs a little TLC to get them over a little ringworm. Let the public decide who they want to adopt by keeping these animals available for them to see.

3. Walk the walk, you are the expert and who the public looks to for what to do. If you hide away all of the ringworm positive cats or put people in hazmat suits to go look at them, no one is going to look twice at a ringworm positive cat. If you instead educate them about ringworm and how it is dealt with, you may find yourself suddenly have a whole pool of adopters ready to help heal and take home a ringworm positive cat.

4. You are going to have to let go of the idea of a perfect home or family and of the animal being 100% perfect and ready for adoption. Perfection can not be the goal if you want to do more life-saving. Help the animals as much as possible to set them up for success then find them the most suitable home and send them home. Monica Freedman said it best when she said shelters are not the 4 Seasons Hotel, they are a refugee camp, and you have to help get these animals out of there!

5. Instill a sense of urgency in yourself, your staff, and your volunteers. Every time an animal is not adopted, another one dies. You are working in a life or death field, and in order to save more lives, pets have to be going into homes to make space for incoming animals. You, of course, must stay responsible and do what is best for every animal, but you also must know in the back of our mind how urgent every situation is, because after one is taken care of another is ready for our help.

This information was learned by listening to Monica Freedman’s talk Send Them Home. You can watch her full video from 2018, which continues to be incredibly relevant here.

The best place for a pet is in a loving home, we won’t stop working until every last pet is in one!