Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Some Great Ideas for Promoting Adoptable Cats (will work for dogs too!)

Animal shelter staff are perpetually thinking of creative ways to promote animals, especially cats, that are looking for good homes. As we have discussed previously, a strong adoption program is an essential component of a healthy animal shelter, and it seems that shelters across the country struggle at one time or another to maintain steady adoption numbers for cats. Recently, a colleague shared an interesting article that put forward some unique ideas for cat adoption promotions. Some of the items on this list I have not heard of before, so I thought they are worth sharing and expanding on:
  1. If you have cages, pair up the kitties. The article explains that some people might be reluctant to separate cats housed together, especially the young kittens, so pair up your cats! It would be beneficial to test this theory if you have good data: look at the average length of stay for adopted pairs housed together compared to other cats of similar age that are not housed together. For example, average length of stay for paired kittens adopted together versus kittens adopted as singles. Additionally, investigate the time to adoption for both cohorts once officially made available for adoption. If pairing seems to be beneficial to your adoption numbers, you might want to create a campaign around double adoptions: “Two for the price of one, “Adopt a kitten and get a free companion”, or “BOGO” (Buy one, get one). I would count this idea as a cat kennel enrichment technique as well! Having a playmate is a great socialization and entertainment tool for the cats. 
  2. Make business cards for the cats. This is brilliant! I have seen many people come in to the shelter with profiles printed from the shelter website of animals they wanted to visit. In a similar practice, when potential adopters are undecided after spending time with a few animals, I have seen people grab the shelter business cards from the front desk and record animals they are interested in. Having a small “business card” that profiles the cat is a great take-away for those not quite ready to make a decision. And, as the article states, some people might even pass the card along to others in the hopes of advocating for one of the cats they visited. You can get even more creative with this idea and mirror the business cards after real business cards. The “jobs/positions” of the cats can be their strengths: sell the lap cat as a “Personal Therapist” or advertise the playful kitten as a “Entertainment Specialist”. Make sure to attach your adoption hours and requirements so they are prepared when they come in next time. If you can, I would recommend tracking statistics on the adoption rates and time to adoption for cats that have their own business cards.

  3. Make your voicemail from a cat. Each staff member with separate voicemail can record a message from a different adoptable cat. Is there a local fine arts or acting school in your neighborhood? Why don’t you call them up and ask if there are any talented voice students that would be willing to record your voicemails.

Although the article focuses on ideas for cat adoption promotion, you can certainly apply the ideas to your dog (or any other animal) adoptions as well. 

Have you tried any of the ideas mentioned in the full article? If so, what was your experience? Take the time to read through the comments…some good ideas are hidden in there too.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Shelter Voice

I apologize for the lack of posting, but I have been pretty busy lately blogging over at TAILS. Here is a list of my most recent TAILS posts. These are written for shelter supporters/non-shelter personnel, but I think there are still some concepts that are useful for those working on the front lines of animal sheltering as well.

Shelter Myths: This series of posts debunks the most common shelter myths heard around every shelter or rescue.
Do Fee Waived Adoptions Devalue Pets?
The Black Cat Myth
All Shelter Pets are Imperfect 
Black Dog Syndrome

Ways To Help Out: These posts discuss opportunities for engaging community involvement including fostering, volunteering, and
Become a Foster Parent!
Creative Ways to Help Animals
10 Things Every Shelter Volunteer Should Know

Working in an Animal Shelter: Working in an animal shelter has its ups and downs, challenges, and rewards. These posts discuss life in a shelter.
Memorable Firsts
Dealing with Compassion Fatigue
My Career in Animal Welfare

Shelter Concepts: These posts detail decisions shelter staff handle on a regular basis to maintain a healthy shelter population.
Returned Adoptions are not Failures
The Kitten Dilemma
The Purpose of Capacity Planning
Dog Kennel Enrichment Ideas
Cat Kennel Enrichment Ideas
Shelters Do More Than Just Adopt Cute Puppies
Shelter Length of Stay

History Lesson: This series of posts detail the various types of shelters and rescues, humane societies, and other organizations that help animals.
What's in a Name?
Open Admissions vs. Limited Admissions
Types of Animal Shelters

Sidney Einstein Duggan

Sabrina DaVinci Duggan