Friday, September 13, 2013

Making the Best of a Bad Location

New signs point the way to MADACC. 
Lost pet reclaims are one of the most important parts of good animal sheltering. But bad locations, as well as poor public awareness can reduce reclaim rates and increase shelter deaths.  Heartbreaking but true, sometimes an owner finds the shelter too late and the pet has already been adopted out to a new home.

Many Wisconsin shelters are located in off-the-beaten path industrial areas due to zoning regulations. Poor locations can also be attributed to cheaper rent or property prices .  Perhaps, a generous patron has donated land for a shelter, but it is on the outskirts of town or even out in the country.

These shelters have to work extra hard to get their name out there, to build awareness in the community, not only for lost pet reclaims, but for adoptions.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Americans move on the average of once every five years.
  • At Lost Dogs of Wisconsin, we have found that most dog owners do not know where their local stray holding facility is or what it is called.
  • Cultural and/or language barriers increase the likelihood that an owner will NOT find the correct stray holding facility.
  • The Hispanic populations will more than double, from 53.3 million in 2012 to 128.8 million in 2060.  Consequently, by the end of the period, nearly one in three U.S. residents will be Hispanic, up from about one in six today. (source: United States Census Bureau)
  • The Asian population is projected to more than double, from 15.9 million in 2012 to 34.4 million in 2060, with its share of the nation's total population climbing from 5.1 percent to 8.2 percent in the same period.  (source: United States Census Bureau)
  • The longer a lost pet is at a shelter the less likely that the owner will be able to afford the reclaim fees.  But an owner might not realize this.  They may think their pet is in a safe place and they may wait for a convenient time or a ride for them to pick them up.

Now for the good news:

For the first time in the fourteen years that the building has been in existence, signs on Miller Park Way point the way to Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission (MADACC).  Karen Sparapani, the Executive Director made this one of her very first projects after taking over the helm of MADACC.  MADACC is tucked away on a side street and I have met many people that have lived in Milwaukee County their entire life that didn't know it existed. They did not realize that it was the place that you should go if you have lost your pet.

Karen says:  "People do not ever think about animal control until they lose an animal or find one,  and they do not know what to do.  To me, living in a community means you know where the police, fire, emergency room and animal control is.  Those are the services you hope never to need but it is critical to everyone to know.  They really are the difference between life and death."

So when a shelter goes the extra mile to make it easy for people to find them, they are saving lives. Karen has also contacted the Blue pages (the Government Section) for all municipalities and hopes to be included under animal control next year in the phone book.  As well, MADACC is advertising in the Spanish Yellow Pages and in two Spanish papers - El Conquistador and the Spanish Journal.

MADACC reclaim rates have already increased, probably in part due to the new signage and their new Facebook page but also because the staff are working extra hard to get more lost pets back home with their owners.

And that is a very good thing.

"Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark.  You know what you are doing, but nobody else does."  - Steuart Henderson Britt

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