Shelters and animal control agencies are becoming increasingly customer-focused, taking into account the needs of the community when making policy decisions. Extending your hours of operation is a great way to meet those needs—and get more animals adopted. On February 1, 2015, City of Cleveland Animal Care and Control began opening their adoption facility to the public from noon until 2 p.m. on Sundays. The result? A resounding success.
“Accessibility to the public is key to getting animals into homes—whether it’s through return to owner, adoption or transfer. If the building isn’t open, animals can’t leave.” Jamison says opening on Sundays made the most sense because many residents and volunteers work during the week."
In a little over a year, more than 450 dogs have left on Sundays alone. (The agency is limited to taking in only injured cats, all of whom are transferred to rescues.)
Jamison says that as a municipal agency, he needed to be able to show that the extra hours would not cause additional spending. Through creative scheduling, Jamison shifted some animal control officers’ schedules for the new Sunday hours. ACOs help run the office on Sundays while the kennel is open, and then go back on the road when it closes.
On top of so many dogs leaving on Sundays, the CITY DOG volunteers love the Sunday hours, because now they can walk dogs on a day that was previously unavailable to them. Volunteers can also take dogs to offsite events on Sundays, which gives dogs a break from the kennel and generates adoptions and goodwill toward the agency and their dogs.
Now You Try It:
Interested in implementing a similar change at your agency? Jamison suggests these tips for getting started:
Take a good look to see if any staffing schedules can be shifted without hurting the rest of your operations.
Start small, so that the change can be easily managed and tweaked if necessary. Explains Jamison, “The results from adding just two hours on Sundays have been amazing, which will only help us to add more hours in the future.”