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Making Adoption the Best Option | Community Spirit

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Making Adoption the Best Option
Making Adoption the Best Option
Making Adoption the Best Option

by Lisa LaFontaine, President and CEO, Washington Humane Society

One of our challenges – and a huge priority – is to convince people to adopt from a shelter as opposed to going to pet stores or breeders. A recently published PetSmart Charities report is the latest in a series of studies about why people choose to buy a pet from a breeder or pet store instead of adopting. We read this with great interest – and in the hopes we could learn something that will help us to do a better job of convincing people to come our way when they are ready to add a companion to the family. 

Two top issues cited in the survey were a lack of knowledge about pet adoption and that the process is overly difficult. An article at slate.com and the reader comments about the article echo these concerns. For us this underscores the depth of the negative attitudes some people hold about the adoption experience – but it also provides us with some opportunities.

We have thousands of potential adoptees go through our shelters in any given year. Every single day, we have the chance to adopt more animals into good homes. I would hate for a single animal to miss out on the opportunity to join a loving family because of a misconception about the adoption process.

So what exactly does happen when you are ready to adopt a new family member? 

Some people look at our adoption website before they visit us. We encourage you to look frequently, although it is important to know that about three dozen animals enter our shelters every day. So, it is also important to come to one of our two adoption facilities - nothing beats a face-to-face interaction, with the animals and with our staff. 

Although there are always a number of animals in foster care at private homes, the vast majority of the animals are in one of our adoption centers. When you come, you will have a chance to visit with the animals who are ready for adoption, and to get a glimpse of their story from looking at the descriptions on their individual rooms or cages.

When you are ready to get serious, you’ll talk with one of our staff members. During this conversation, you will have a chance to ask questions about individual animals, or about animal care in general. This will help you to hone in on which animal is the best match for your lifestyle – and you can spend some quality time with your intended companion to make sure it feels right. 

Once you’ve found your match, there is some adoption paperwork to fill out, and the adoption counselor will speak with you about why that particular animal is in our care, what has been his or her experience in the shelter, and what you can do to make the transition into your home successful. 

It really is that simple. A process that has been called intimidating or overwhelming is really a friendly, information gathering and hopefully fun conversation at WHS. You see we want this conversation to go so well that two lifelong relationships are established – the bond between you and your companion animal, and the relationship between you and the Washington Humane Society. If you ever need a resource or know of someone looking to add a new companion to their home, I want you to turn to WHS as a trusted friend. 

We often receive emails from our adopters talking about their experience like this one from Clyde’s family. As a matter of fact, I keep a file called “Happy Endings – and New Beginnings”: 

“I just liked your page on Facebook and have been raving about the wonderful service, care, and good the Washington Humane Society does for animals and people. My fiancé and I were so impressed by the staff and the time they took to go through all of the adoption papers and answer any questions we had. I still check your website at least once a week and send out e-mails to friends and family who are looking to adopt. Mayfly, whose name is now Clyde, is truly part of our home. He is well mannered and has a great disposition. Clyde is so loving and makes friends where ever we go…”

I hope that you will join Clyde’s family as happy and proud WHS adopters. Your visit to us should be a wonderful experience – and the process should be efficient, educational and enjoyable. But please, find out for yourself first hand by coming to one of our adoption centers and, hopefully, meeting a beloved new companion. If the timing isn’t just right, you can still help the homeless animals in the region by spreading the word that the Washington Humane Society is the place when looking for a pet!

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