Everytime I bring up no kill shelters on our Facebook page, I hear so many objections from the folks that work in shelters. They say it can't be done, yet it can be and cities like Austin are proof. They blame it on the public who they claim keep surrendering dogs and continuing to allow their dogs to breed, producing more homeless animals.
Lets take a moment to take a long hard look at the public. Yes, it's true that a good number of people still do not spay/neuter their dogs which continue to reproduce more dogs which crowd shelters all over the country. Yes, it's also true that there are irresponsible people out there that don't think twice about surrendering their dog to a kill shelter, even though they know it is a death sentence.
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Beautiful Stanley, currently available for adoption at the Tipton County Animal Shelter.
But these reasons that I've listed aren't reasons for shelters to throw in the towel. There is always much more that can be done to increase adoptions and lower euthansia rates. Here are some things little things that every shelter can do:
1. Better Pictures
- I can't tell you how many awful pictures we receive of urgent dogs to post on our Facebook page. All I can't think when I see them is "no wonder this poor dog hasn't found a home!" I realize that shelters have limited resources or may be understaffed, but pictures are critical. Many people are taking their pet search to the web and utilizing sites like Petfinder and Adopt-a-Pet. People want to see happy dogs that they can envision in their family and usually prefer those with a couple of different photos. No one wants to see a dark picture of a terrified dog from an unflattering angle. Better pictures make a huge difference! When I think of one shelter that does it right, I think of the Tipton County Animal Shelter. They are very lucky to have Paws and Claws Photography helping them and what a great job they do!
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Whiskey, currently available for adoption at Williamson County Animal Control.
2. Better Biographies
for more information!" Great job Williamson County!
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Rosie is a real dog that is listed on Petfinder. Sadly this is her shelter picture. She is listed as a Beagle mix. Shelters, I know you can do better than this!
3. Accurate Breed Labeling
- I can't stress enough how important it is to do this as accurately as possible. We have seen so many shelters label dogs incorrectly. Not everyone is an expert and there are a lot of breeds, but there are books which show pictures of the different breeds. An educated guess is a lot better than just automatically throwing the "Pit mix" label on every dog. More than one shelter has admitted to us that this is exactly what they do when they can't determine a breed. Let's face it, we love Pits but there are many people that don't and it can hurt their chances of being adopted. We've rescued many dogs that were incorrectly labeled, from Labs to American Bulldogs when they were very obviously not the breed the shelter listed them as.
4. Offsite Adoption Events
- There are a fairly large amount of people that don't want to visit shelters because it is hard for them to see all the homeless dogs, begging for a minute of their attention. One offsite adoption event per month can really help boost exposure for these dogs and it also raises awareness for shelter dogs everywhere. As surprising as it might be, there are still lots of people who don't realize that shelters euthanize healthy animals. Seeing the faces and knowing if they don't find a family in a certain amount of time, it will cost them their life is hard but maybe it's necessary. That is the reality that the majority of shelter dogs face and it's time that people realize that so they can become responsible, educated pet owners.
Shelters, these are just a few ways to increase adoptions and lower your euthanasia rate. If you need volunteers to help, please let us know and we'll be happy to post for help in your area on our Facebook page. There are always ways to improve and the winners are the dogs that don't have to pay the ultimate price for being homeless. They deserve our empathy and our help, please don't let them down!