By: Leann Quire, Director of Shelter Operations for Humane Pennsylvania
Adoption events not only save lives and resources, but they attract more people to adopt. Many shelters have found that when they are nearing, or at, capacity they need more and faster adoptions to make more room to help other animals coming into the shelter and for some shelters this is also critical to prevent euthanasia. Holding adoption events can promote and increase adoption rates, which mean more lives saved. Attention grabbing benefits like reduce or fee-waived promotions paired with fun and sometimes silly themes are the perfect way to bring attention to the need for adoption. Often these events can draw the attention of media outlets and give shelters the platform to talk about why adoption is the way to go if you are looking to add a family member. Even though adoption has become one of the most common ways for people to find their new furry family members, there are still many people who opt to purchase from pet stores or other concerning avenues, like puppy mills. Any ability for shelters to discuss the benefit of adoption saves lives.
What are adoption promotions? Adoption promotions are when a shelter will reduce or waive adoption fees to garner the attention from the public in hopes of increasing their adoptions. They are typically held on weekends, but some are during the week. They can last anywhere from a day to even a week or month. While these events are generally held on site at the shelter there are some that are held off site. The shelter will tie in a theme like holidays, big events (like the start of school), current events or movies, etc. to help draw attention and make the event more fun. Fundraising plays a huge part to cover costs to hold the event and cover the adoption costs. If you are interested in sponsoring one of our adoption events you can contact our Director of Development, Lauren Henderson, at Lhenderson@humanepa.org to discuss options.
Not only do these events help to get animals adopted faster, which means saved resources for the shelter, reduced risk of stress, illness, or even euthanasia for the animal, but these events often bring attention to longer resident pets who may have been previously overlooked. I’ve witnessed many of our longest resident animals going home during adoption promotions and stay in their forever homes. Which brings the next important topic, controversy and concern surrounding adoption events.
Some people have concerns that these events increase return rates and draw people who have corrupt intentions to adopt. The majority of data supports that animals adopted during adoption events tend to stay in the home. Many reputable animal welfare organizations and pet related organizations such as Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Maddie’s Fund, Best Friends, and the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science all found from conducting different studies and reviews that over 90% of the animals adopted from these events remain in their original homes, which means the return rate is actually less than the average for most shelters during normal adoption times. Studies also showed that waived fees did not devalue the animals and the adopters were just as attached to them as they would have been had they paid the full adoption fee.
It is important to note that our process for adoption does not change during these events. We are still requiring proper identification and information from the adopter and our staff are still performing the same extensive counseling. The animals up for adoption have all of the same vaccines and treatments as animals who are up for adoption during a normal day. Adoption events are not a reason to jump into adopting if you have not put enough thought into whether you have the proper lifestyle and time to devote to your new pet. You should also make sure all family members are on board with this big decision. While we want to draw more attention to adoption we do not want anyone to rush their decision or adopt an animal that is not a good fit for them.
Be patient and expect to wait a little longer when coming to the shelter during a promotion. There may be lines or more traffic than normal. Especially with current restrictions on the number of people allowed inside our shelter at one time due to the pandemic you may need to wait outside or in your car throughout parts of the process.
Adoption events are win-win because animals find amazing homes and the public are drawn to adopt and get added benefits to adopting like reduced or waived fees and sometimes goodie bags. Our Humane League of Lancaster shelter has an exciting event coming up for St. Patrick’s Day in which all of our cats will be $3.17 on Wednesday, March 17th thanks to our wonderful friends at Citadel Credit Union. We hope that we can find homes for many of our wonderful furry friends and make some space for the quickly approaching kitten season that can often overwhelm the shelter. Maybe you will find your next family member during one of our adoption events.