Increase adoption rate by removing barriers

The goal of every rescue and shelter is to find homes for the animals in their care. Seems straight forward, right? Well, no adoption is black and white. We have all had adoptions that ended poorly. Maybe the animal was returned, maybe the animal wasn’t cared for, and in the worst cases – maybe the animal was abused. After having this happen, it can be easy to start creating a list of requirements that adopters must have before they can bring home one of your beloved animals. But, these restrictions can also prevent good homes.

This article will talk about what adoption barriers are and how you can remove them without sacrificing the quality of home you find for your animals.

What are adoption barriers?

Adoption barriers can start with your application:

  • Long application with lengthy questions
  • Support for only one language
  • Requirements for many references including vet

They can continue with what you ask from the adopter:

  • Fenced yard
  • Own home
  • Work schedule
  • Adult only homes (no kids)
  • Income requirement

These go on and on. You may be reading some of these and thinking I have to include these to feel comfortable with the adoption. While this may be true for some of the animals in your care, is it true for all?

Ways to start removing barriers

Let’s go case by case:

  • Long application with lengthy questions – What does your application process look like? Do you have a call or conversation with an adopter that could cover most of these questions? Challenge yourself to stick to a single page application. Any remaining questions can be answered when you speak with them.
  • Support for only one language – Citizens of the US speak over 350 languages. Is your application only in English? Could this prevent adopters who primarily speak another commonly spoken American language like Spanish? Even using Google translate could open up the opportunity for a whole new group of adopters.
  • Reference requirements – Do you really need 3 references for each applicant? Could you ask for references on a case by case basis? This would allow adopters to more easily submit and application and begin that conversation.
  • Lifestyle related requirements – Blanket requirements for things like a fenced yard or owning a home is a huge barrier. Sometimes these are necessary for a particular dog’s needs but and English Bulldog really doesn’t need a fenced yard, how far could they get? An adult husky without any leash skills could be a candidate for a fenced yard requirement though. These requirements should be on a case by case basis to allow good adopters to find the right fit rather than blocking them from any dog.

Hopefully you are considering making some of these changes during your application process. This is NOT to say that you should allow anyone to take any animal but this gives the opportunity for good adopters to adopt!

Happy rescuing!

Is this article missing something? Have questions? Want help applying what you learned to your organization? Send us a message!

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