Crafting an adoption contract that protects the animal—and doesn’t discourage people from adopting—is a crucial step in finding more homes for horses.
In part one of this interview series, see how Garret Leonard, director at Harmony Equine Center in Franktown, CO, and his team screen adopters with a conversation-based process and simple contract.
ASPCApro: What’s the philosophy behind your adoption process?
Garrett Leonard: We believe we can learn more about a potential adopter by talking with them than we can by reading what they write on an application. That’s why before we even get to the contract, we ask potential adopters a series of questions to figure out what type of horse they’re looking for and require they take three lessons at our facility with the horse they are interested in adopting.
During lessons we can really get to know the adopter and see how he or she relates to the horse. Anyone can lie on an application or contract, but the truth naturally comes out when you are working side by side with them and a horse. If at any point during the matchmaking process either staff or the adopter has reservations about proceeding, the process stops.
ASPCApro: If you had to choose one question that serves as the best filter for helping you to make a good match, what would it be?
The adoption contract allows us to get in writing the commitment an adopter is making to the horse. We feel it should be reasonable and not pages and pages of can and cannot.
GL: What are your long and short-term goals with your horse? It helps us to understand and see just how realistic an adopter is.
For example, a family wanted to adopt two horses from us and they started lessons with the trainers and were ready to move forward with the adoptions. They said their short-term goals were to go on trail rides four to five times per week. After talking with them more about their lives, work and their long-term commitments, they determined that they didn’t have the time for horses. They withheld information, not to be deceitful, but because they were excited. By asking about their goals, we were able to nail down their commitment after the excitement wore off.
ASPCApro: What does your written contract add to the process?
GL: The adoption contract allows us to get in writing the commitment an adopter is making to the horse. We feel it should be reasonable and not pages and pages of can and cannot.
ASPCApro: Do you follow up with adopters after the adoption is complete?
GL: Yes. We follow up with ALL adoptions at 30 and 60 days after a horse leaves. That is generally a follow-up call to make sure everything is going well and to see if they need any resources to be successful.
ASPCApro: What advice would you give other equine organizations about creating an adoption contract?
GL: Don’t make it too complicated and cumbersome. Make it good for both the organization and the adopter. The more cumbersome your contract, the less likely people are to adopt.