This research project tested the premise that empowering fosters to find adopters and adopt out their foster dogs is a valid strategy for saving more lives. The Louisiana SPCA (LA/SPCA) used this approach during the 2010 ASPCA $100K Challenge and received an R&D Innovation grant after the Challenge to research the impact of the program.
What We Did
We followed two groups of dogs adopted through the LA/SPCA. Each group was randomly assigned and consisted of 45 dogs:
We collected data on age, breed, size, and total length of stay for the dogs in both groups. In addition, after an adopted dog had been in his or her new home for two weeks, the adopter was given a survey to complete.
From this data, we looked at:
The data collection is complete and the potentially game-changing results are in.
Time to Adoption: It took a little longer for the AA dogs to be adopted. However, since the dogs were in foster homes, they weren't taking up cage space in the shelter.
Returns: The return rate for the AA dogs was significantly lower than it was for the Traditional group, 2% versus 14%.
Adoption Pool: The key differences between the two groups of dogs turned out to be the characteristics of the people who adopted them:
The data suggest that adopting directly from foster homes enables a shelter to reach a pool of adopters who might not have considered visiting a shelter to adopt.
The ASPCA is collecting data from other shelters who are testing this program. We want to further investigate the strength of this program and ensure that it is not a single-shelter phenomenon.
What's the Bottom Line?
The research strongly supports the notion that empowering fosters to adopt out the animals in their care is a powerful, life-saving tool for: