The key to success is education, and folks at the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., are doing just that with the popular Animal Shelter Education Services (ACES) event. A new one is happening this week, June 9-11, at the shelter.
One highlight of ACES deals with adoption.
HWAC knows how to do adoptions. In 2009, more than 2,600 animals were adopted. In fact, this animal shelter is so stellar at it, an entire workshop on the topic is offered during ACES. Geared towards helping others in the animal rescue community better their own adoption rates, public persona and adoption results, ACES inspires, teaches and enlightens.
LaBeth Thompson, Helen Woodward Animal Center’s adoptions inventory manager, knows a thing or two about this crucial component of animal welfare, and she shares her knowledge about adoptions with those who attend the ACES workshops.
“We focus on the business of adoptions—how to approach the situation as a business with marketing, handling clients, etc.,” said Thompson. “We talk about how we do intakes, fostering and media. We go over how to work to change the public’s view of shelter pets as second-class animals.”
Most—80 percent—of HWAC’s animals come from high-kill shelters around the nation. But some are found abandoned in parks or Dumpsters, and even a very few come from distant lands like Romania. Some animals are adopted out the same day they arrive, and others call HWAC home for more than a year. But the dedication of the staff to get these creatures new, loving families never wanes. In fact, this dedication is a key to any shelter’s adoption success.
“Having staff who are passionate about the business of saving lives” is vital, said Thompson.
As is she. Despite the number of animals housed by her shelter each year, Thompson remembers many of them. There was the flea-market pup who turned into a stage actor. And the dog living at a meth lab before he was rescued and adopted by his foster family.
“He lost his teeth due to the fumes and his little tongue hangs out, but he is so loved,” she said.
Videos made by volunteers and staff showcasing the animals up for adoption are a big tool to get the dogs into forever homes, said Thompson. These usually wind up on the shelter’s website.
“They are creative and great fun to watch,” she said.
Another tip for success: having the staff show shelter guests their favorite pets, especially if they might have been overlooked by the casual visitor.
So what is the biggest way other shelters can become successful at adoptions and lower euthanasia numbers?
“My first reaction was passion, but passion without direction and organization is not productive,” said Thompson. “So I would say the one thing [needed] is passionate people with good direction.”
That can be achieved by staffing shelters with driven, caring people who are under the direction of a strong and responsible leader. That way, the entire team works together as a unit, all striving for the same goal.
Tips like these, and so many more, are taught in ACES workshops.
“I enjoy ACES,” said Thompson. “I love meeting new people and sharing what we do and learning from them. I think it is important that we work together and not view each other as competitors.”
Don’t forget to check out cakechow.com’s Spring Fling adoption drive!