4 Tips for Prepping Animals Before a Big Adoption Event
You've selected your location and found funding for your mega adoption event—now it's time to start thinking about preparing your animals. To help make the task less daunting, here are four helpful tips from your colleagues.
Select Your Animals
Donna Kincer, development director for Greater Androscoggin Humane Society in Lewiston, ME, says it's important to have enough animals available. "In the middle of an event," she explains, "it is not uncommon for us to reach out to other shelters to ask them to send over more pets."
Shelly Simmons, division manager of Greenville County Animal Care in Greenville, SC, says that if the goal is to adopt 100 animals, "make sure to have 150 available" since animals you had earmarked for the event may get adopted, sent to foster homes or get sick.
Many shelters include all the animals in their care in mega adoption events—even those who are still on stray hold. For example, at KC Pet Project in Kansas City, KS, potential adopters can do an early bird hold for dogs who are on stray hold. Half of the $50 hold charge is applied to the animal's adoption fee and the other half is considered a donation. The deposit guarantees the potential adopter the first right to adopt the pet if no one claims the dog at the end of the hold period.
Kincer says it's a good idea to include animals who are in foster care and to have the foster family available to talk with potential adopters at the event.
Some agencies combine forces with other shelters or rescues on large adoptions events, which is a great way to address the homeless pet problem on a community-wide basis. If you choose to partner with other groups on a mega adoption event, keep these three things in mind:
Go in with a collaborative mindset. "We do not view the animals at these events as 'our animal' or 'your animal'—we are in this together, trying to save lives," says Kincer.
Cross-promote among all the agencies to maximize the impact of your event. Amy Shrodes, director of marketing and development for OK Humane in Oklahoma City, OK, says her agency always links to everyone else's websites and Facebook pages—and most agencies reciprocate.
Consider having one adoption policy and price for all the groups at the event. Simmons suggests coming to an agreement with other groups ahead of time "so that customers are not confused by the adoption process."
"We do not view the animals at these events as 'our animal' or 'your animal'—we are in this together, trying to save lives."
Promote Early & Often
Get the buzz about your animals going a few weeks before the big day. Tori Fugate, manager of marketing and development at KC Pet Project, has professional volunteer photographers take photos of the animals a week or two before the event and puts the photos, along with the animals' bios, on her agency's website.
Shrodes says her agency posts preview albums on its website and Facebook page, adding that they've been "extremely effective for finding people to adopt specific animals."
If an event is held at more than one site, keep potential adopters informed of which animal will be at which location by posting updates and schedules on your website and Facebook page. "We make it clear in our posts that a certain pet will be available on a specific day and adoption is on a first-come, first-served basis," Kincer adds.
To maximize the number of people who see the photos, share the preview albums with your sponsors, partner agencies and the media before your event. Here’s a great piece on getting media coverage for your event.
Complete All Vetting & Grooming
All animals should be "showroom ready and prepared to leave the event as soon as they are adopted," says Kincer. That means they have been spayed and neutered, microchipped and vaccinated before the event.
Fugate says KC Pet Project schedules additional veterinary support the week before the event to help with spay/neuter and general vetting.
Misty Valenta, community programs coordinator for Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter in Georgetown, TX, suggests considering the personality of the animal before deciding to take him or her to an offsite event. Animals who would be too overstimulated by the event remain at the shelter.
If your adoption event is offsite, make sure you bring complete medical records for each animal so you can send the records home with the adopters. Shrodes suggests "double—even triple—checking your medical packets to make sure they are complete." This can reduce chaos at the event and prevent you from having to reissue medical records afterward.
Bathing and grooming the animals will make them more appealing to potential adopters. It's hard to resist a sweet-smelling, well-coiffed cat or dog! Many agencies partner with local groomers to get a significant savings on services. Fugate suggests putting event-themed bandanas on the animals to further increase their charm.
Identify Your Animals
With so many animals at a mega event, it's important that each be clearly identified. Every animal should have a collar with some kind of unique identifier on it (shelter ID tag, number or nametag).
Shrodes suggests event-themed cage cards where you can fill in key information before the event, including things like age, sex and any personality traits that may be helpful to adopters such as housetraining status, energy level, etc.
No matter what your event plans entail, be sure you build in lots of extra time. Simmons warns that "whatever time frame you determine it will take to make all of your animals ready for a mega event, multiply it by two!"