Friday, July 2, 2010

Head on down to your local shelter (Tell them I sent you)

I re-read my last few posts and decided I must sound like the shelter witch. That's witch. With a "w". And I really like shelters. Really! I've spent the last 3 years volunteering at a local shelter one or two afternoons a week. I am amazed at the speed at which dogs and cats are adopted.  If I remember correctly from a recent seminar, the average length of stay for a dog at Wisconsin Humane Society is five days. I don't know the statistics for other shelters because transparency is lacking at best.  I was also amazed at the "traffic" the shelter got especially on Friday afternoons in the spring and fall.

People in America are getting the "Adopt, don't shop" message. They WANT to adopt. They are often waiting for the shelter to open for viewing. Why would people choose a shelter (over a rescue) to adopt from? Here's my top five reasons;

1) They can see a variety and good selection of animals in a short amount of time.

2) It is more convenient. They don't have to make an appointment and the viewing hours are usually good.

3) They don't have to jump through the hoops that they would at a rescue (home visits, pre-approved applications, etc.)

4) They have donated to the shelter in the past and feel that it is part of the community.

5) They feel comfortable adopting from a brick and mortar facility. If something doesn't work out they have a reasonable chance to get satisfactory help and/or recourse from the shelter.

I truly believe that a pet's best chance for a quick, successful adoption in Wisconsin is at a shelter. There are some good breed rescues who are also doing an awesome job. But there are also a lot of disreputable Mom and Pop type rescues popping up on every street corner and in every neighborhood. There are also the endless "Dogs in Danger" types of postings on the Internet where you can "save" a dog from a southern shelter. (more on the pitfalls of this in a future post)

Some of our Wisconsin shelters have problems, no doubt. A lot of them have not changed with the times. They are not ready for the next generation of sheltering that is upon us. But I want to see our shelters work. Really!

They are the safety net for our animals. And that's why I am using this blog as an educational tool for the volunteers, the donors, the public, and the staff. Wisconsin has the resources and the ability to lead the way in the nation in animal welfare. Let's do it!


  1. We are very blessed in Wisconsin to have some of the finest shelters. Thanks for reminding us Kathy.

  2. Kathy, you might want to stop by this website and check out the innovative ideas.

    Link =

    Here are the main points:
    1) Keep shelters, but change them to ADOPTION CENTERS.

    2) House dogs and cats communaly in open showrooms. Much more inviting to people and far better for animals. Cheaper to operate and no more kennel crazy!

    3) Animals not ready for group living are not ready for adoption - go into foster care for rehab.

    4) Train fosters to rehab behavior issues, not just provide room and board.

    5) Fosters train in-home in friendly environment instead of shelter environment.

    Note 1: Brick-and-mortar facilities get all the donations because they have greater community visibility and familiarity than with rescuers (as you stated).

    Bring in rescue groups and use them as assets. Pay for all vet care. Relieves rescuers of this burden. Helps reign in sloppy rescue work.

    Note 2: Adoption Centers must enthusiastically involve community as partner - not just as source of donations. PSAs and aggressive marketing will excite the community to get involved. Everybody loves a winner!

    Note 3: As excitement builds, donations will increase. Can then launch neuter clinics FREE TO ALL community animals. Give back for-fee vet care to local vets. Happy campers!

    Thanks, Kathy. Hope that revs your engine. Sounds like what you're suggesting. Much more - read about it at

    Hugs from your next-door Minnesota neighbor!