Reducing Failed Adoptions One Puppy at a Time

the rest of the familyIt’s a new year, so what are you doing to help give shelter pets a home? Everyday there are pets who need a home, and the numbers are increasing. Maybe you have concerns in the back of your mind that prevent you from adopting a dog. If so, Norfolk Animal Care Center is working hard on a pilot program to make dog adoption more appealing. The program is called “PupStart,” and its goal is to prevent their puppies from misbehaving when they enter their new home. Although this is quite a lofty goal, they have an ingenious plan of action.

When you hear stories of people adopting dogs, you think the story ends there. However, sometimes those puppies or dogs get returned to the shelter within a week. The person might have had difficulty adjusting to the dog, but sometimes there are cases when the dog is the problem. The dog might have been friendly at the store, but when the owner took it home, maybe it was aggressive toward the owner’s family members or friends. According to the Norfolk Animal Care Center, they had 1,400 adoptions last year but 3,700 had to be euthanized. In an effort to increase adoption rates and decrease euthanizations, the center is testing out their new program and hoping for the best.

Basically, the Norfolk Animal Care Center’s program is built to prevent puppies from becoming aggressive toward people. So since their main focus is to socialize the puppies in their center, they have developed a fool proof system to make sure these puppies get to know a variety of people in all shapes, sizes, ages and colors. The staff tries to introduce the puppies to 100 different people before the time the dog reaches 12 weeks old. In order to achieve this objective, they recruit volunteers. The center charges $150 for these puppies (twice the regular fee), because pet owners are getting a well-trained puppy, which is more than any dog owner can ask for.

Even if you don’t live in Virginia, you can still volunteer or visit the animals at a local shelter. You might not think your 15 to 20 minutes of time makes a difference, but if you socialize with the animals, it could increase their chances of becoming adopted.

Because the center introduces their puppies to different people, new sounds (e.g. vacuums, baby cries, sirens, thunderstorms, etc.) and alone time (appreciation of short-term confinement), the dogs are better candidates for adoption. This approach requires more time and effort on shelter staff and volunteers, but the end result may be worth it.

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