I recently blogged about the power of the spur-of-the-moment, impulse decision of bringing a pet into our lives, and how that impulse was often one of the best decisions we have ever made. The other day I took this picture of one of my own “impulses” with my Pop… My parents have been struggling with some health concerns, and as my Dad is quite taken with Que, a visit can be quite therapeutic… For both of them…
I also wrote that while we see the power of that impulse and have taken full advantage of our positions within the field of animal welfare to fall in love in the moment and take a dog or cat home with us, often we judge those who walk into the shelter doors if they have not really thought about their decision. Many of our lives, and the lives of our friends, families and neighbors, have been enriched through an impulse like this. But our messaging to those who come to adopt often does not allow for them to have that same impulse decision.
You know I am all about the data, and I am so thrilled to see the results of a recent survey conducted by American Humane Association and funded by PetSmart Charities that should help in the process of letting go of the idea that planning leads to a better bond. The report is filled with lots of juicy information – you can find it here. AHA surveyed adopters who had adopted from six animal shelters in three cities (Charlotte, NC, Denver, CO, and Fort Worth, TX). Almost 575 adopters were surveyed and most had adopted around six months prior to taking the survey.
It is interesting, and celebratory, to note that the vast majority of pets stayed in their home – about 90% of the pets were still in the home! It would be fantastic if we could increase that to closer to 100%, but 90% is still pretty darn good. Most exciting was those who had obtained a pet as a spur-of-the-moment decision were no more or less likely to retain their pet than those who had done a lot of research or thinking. In other words, doing prior planning or research or already intending to adopt when they walked in the door did not increase the likelihood that they kept the pet. In building a hypothesis as to why this may be, it may just be that all that research and data and “feeling sure” leaves potential adopters with higher and stronger expectations – so essentially there is a “wash” between not having all the info and having unrealistic expectations based on too much thinking! Who knows… that may be research for another day!
With both your own positive personal experiences and data to support that positive experiences are likely for your potential adopters as well… how about giving impulse a chance?
ASPCA Vice President, Equine Welfare
Dr. Emily Weiss, PhD, CAAB, oversees strategic direction of the ASPCA Equine Welfare program, a part of the ASPCA's Anti-Cruelty Group. Weiss is a lifelong horse owner and trainer and has conducted research regarding adoption and rehoming of horses. Recently, she began leading the ASPCA's collaboration with The Right Horse Initiative, a collective of industry professionals and equine welfare advocates working to improve the lives of horses in transition by increasing training opportunities for horses and promoting adoption. Weiss leads efforts such as a pilot program with veterinarians and global animal health company Zoetis to provide access to vital veterinary care and increase the likelihood horses can remain in their homes. She also served as the ASPCA’s VP of Research & Development, overseeing research related to the animal sheltering field and developing assessment tools for shelter animals, including the SAFER assessment and Meet Your Match Canine-ality, Puppy-ality and Feline-ality. Before that she created training programs to improve husbandry and decrease stress for many zoo animals. Weiss is co-editor of the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science and has published and lectured extensively in the field of applied animal behavior.
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