Streamlining your adoption process, like Bucks County SPCA did with its offsite adoptions, helps get cats into loving homes quicker. The Pennsylvania agency’s length of stay was reduced by two-thirds for cats adopted offsite!
Conversational Adoption Counseling
Bucks County follows conversational adoption counseling principles, like those outlined in The Humane Society of the United States’ Adopters Welcome handbook. With conversational adoptions, counselors recognize adopters come to them with meaningful experiences and together they work in a non-judgmental way to find adopters a suitable pet.
Conversational adoption counseling allows for a shorter adoption application since much of the information you need to make good matches is gathered from speaking directly with the adopter. Bucks County staff members were so happy with their one-page offsite adoption application, they started using it at the shelter too. And the shorter application makes it easier to fax or scan from a remote location.
Linda Reider, executive director of Bucks County SPCA, recommends the following:
Check for overnight faxes/scans of adoption applications each morning and throughout the day
Use a dedicated fax line so partners never need to wait to send you an application—or have them scan and email applications
Consider asking your partner contact to call or text you when an application is being faxed or scanned so that you can process it right away
As soon as someone submits an application for a cat, place an “on hold/adoption pending” sign on the cat’s kennel so that everyone is aware of the animal’s status. Be sure to remove the sign if the adoption falls through.
Sending Animals Home
Ideally, there should be no more than a 24-48 hour wait between when an application for a cat is submitted and when that cat is sent home.
When an animal is picked up, it is important to have a volunteer or staff member onsite to ensure that the exchange goes smoothly. Payment is accepted onsite and can be cash (exact change only), credit card or check and is stored in a secure lockbox.
Reider suggests keeping these details in mind at pick-up:
Some stores may need to institute an evening deadline for cat pick-up because staff may be too busy tending to closing tasks to manage a pick-up
Consider scheduling appointments for pick-ups so you can be sure to have someone available to assist
Reider has two separate paperwork packets for each cat: a “Give to Pet Parent” packet and a “Pet Parent Must Sign” packet.
The following items are in the “Give to Pet Parent Packet”:
Adoption contract (adopter copy)
Medical and behavioral history
Coupons for cat food
Map to your shelter (for returns)
URI instruction sheet
Health insurance information
The following items are in the “Pet Parent Must Sign” packet and are returned to the shelter:
Adoption contract (shelter copy)
Special adoption agreement waiver (if animal has any behavioral or medical concerns)
Payment of adoption fee receipt (documents method and amount of payment)
It’s important to have an accurate status on every cat at all offsite locations so you are prepared to replace an adopted cat with an available cat right away. At Bucks County, there is a standing order for 25-35 cats per week. For smaller programs, having one or two cats prepped and ready to fill in should be adequate.