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Reducing the barriers to pet adoption

Over time, the adoption process for pets has become more and more complex. Lengthy and often arduous applications, home visits, reference checks and inquiries with landlords all contribute to a cumbersome adoption process. With more pets entering shelters than leaving, animal welfare organizations are revisiting their adoption process in order to reduce barriers and place more pets in loving homes.

One impediment to pet adoption is extensive application processes that potential adopters find daunting. Applications that require detailed personal information, references and even financial disclosures have become commonplace for shelters and rescues. In order to attract more adopters, shelters and rescue organizations are streamlining their application forms. By simplifying the paperwork, these organizations hope to encourage more people to consider adopting a pet and make the process less intimidating. La Plata County Humane Society has recently revised its adoption process, which will launch March 1.

While LPCHS has never required a home visit for adopters, many rescues do. Home visit requirements are quickly becoming antiquated, and animal welfare leaders are encouraging shelters and rescues to reconsider this intrusive and time consuming practice. While the intention behind home visits is to ensure that the living environment is suitable for the pet, potential adopters have found this invasion of privacy to be a significant deterrent. Instead of relying solely on home visits, some organizations are shifting toward virtual interviews and video tours, allowing them to assess the living conditions without intruding on the adopter’s personal space. Other organizations are eliminating this practice entirely. This change not only expedites the adoption process but also accommodates people who may have privacy concerns or busy schedules.

Reference checks and landlord follow-ups, while well-intentioned, have also contributed to delays and hesitations in the adoption process. Waiting to connect with a landlord or reference can often delay adoption days or even weeks. This means pets are sitting in the kennel environment longer. Organizations are now placing greater emphasis on building relationships with potential adopters, fostering trust and providing support rather than scrutinizing references. LPCHS emphasizes that, if at any point, the adoption isn’t working, adopters can reach out for support, or return the animal to us. By shifting the focus from a stringent approval process to education and support, animal welfare groups aim to create a more positive experience for both adopters and the animals in their care.

Adopters are an animal shelter’s most valuable asset. Without adopters, homeless pets sit in limbo, with no end in site. It is the responsibility of animal welfare organizations to create an adoption process that is supportive, welcoming and informative. The landscape of pet adoption is undergoing a positive transformation as animal welfare organizations recognize and address the barriers that have begun to hinder potential adopters. By simplifying application processes, rethinking home visits and fostering supportive relationships with adopters, these organizations are striving to make the adoption experience more inclusive and welcoming.

Colleen Dunning is the development manager for the La Plata County Humane Society.