I just had to take this last opportunity to really highlight how much we need to move away from caged sheltering. Today Nathan Winograd, No Kill Advocacy Center, published an article listing 10 steps to improving a shelter’s adoption efforts. It is called Animal Sheltering 101: Turbocharging Your Adoption Program. The link to it is at the end of this post.
I’ll let Nathan’s words speak for me:
5. Make the Shelter Fun and Inviting
Nothing makes a person feel welcome like a smile and hello, but getting people to stay and adopt can only be done by interaction with the animals. In other words, once you get them in the room, the animals do the rest. First, that means the shelter must remain clean. The smell of waste and filthy kennels undermines a smile and “hello” at the door. Shelters should set up play areas for cats, have lots of cat toys, and let people take them out of cages and interact with them. They should set up a doggy pool, have tennis balls and Frisbees, and invite the public to walk dogs and play with them, too. People will stay longer, interact more, and adopt more.
Old-school animal sheltering dogma advises minimizing public contact with animals, but it is human nature to want to make personal contact. Shelters should encourage the public to interact with the animals—to touch, spend time, and fall in love with them. Even if they do not adopt, the animals enjoy the attention. Studies show that the benefit of socialization and contact not only increases adoptions, but also decreases the animals’ stress which makes them more resistant to disease.
(Note: I added the emphasis.)
Clearly Nathan is recommending we move quickly away from the current prison model with kennels and cages? Anything less than communal showrooms blocks our moving toward what he recommends.
Let’s take a look at some very typical shelters and compare that to Nathan’s recommendations above:
Link to Nathan’s Article = click HERE.
Okay, next we’ll deal with the 2nd vital aspect of what makes this new model so different: training fosters to deal with behavior issues.