Research conducted by the ASPCA has found that empowering fosters to find adopters is a simple and powerful strategy for saving more lives.
How It Began
The Adoption Ambassadors program was developed at Louisiana SPCA during the 2010 ASPCA $100K Challenge, and the exciting approach resulted in an R&D innovation grant from the ASPCA.
Adoption Ambassadors—called Fast Track at LA/SPCA—started with a big black dog named Tulip. The shelter was full, so Tulip was placed in foster care, and her foster was asked to help find her a home. Within three days Tulip was adopted and a new program was born.
During the study, only 7% of dogs who were adopted through the Adoption Ambassador program were returned to the shelter, compared to 17% of dogs adopted directly from the shelter.
Twenty-four percent of adopters considered information provided about their dog by the foster family when making a decision to adopt, whereas only 3% of regular shelter adopters factored information from shelter personnel in the decision. This difference could represent adopters going into relationships with more realistic expectations about their animals, resulting in fewer returns.
Results from CAS show 29% of Adoption Ambassador adopters got previous pets from a shelter or rescue. Since 93% of the adopters in the study reported they were already considering getting a dog before they adopted, it’s likely adopters who could have chosen a dog from another source—such as a breeder or pet store—adopted instead.
The Charleston research found that the majority of people adopting directly from the shelter (81%) first saw their dogs when visiting the shelter. The Adoption Ambassador adopters first learned about their dogs in these ways: Internet, including social media (54%); from a friend (18%); seeing a dog wearing an Adopt Me vest in public (15%).