How to Quickly Get Dogs Adopted – Decreasing Time of Stay in Shelters

It is possible to save every dog and cat in U.S. shelters.

I’m glad some of the larger organizations are now accepting the concept of no kill.

This post is a summary of a blog post by Brent Toellner of the KC Dog Blog about how shelters can get dogs into homes as quickly as possible.

Toellner is the president of the board of directors for the KC Pet Project, a nonprofit that operates the animal shelter of Kansas City, Mo. I wrote about its no-kill philosophy on my blog here.

Toellner’s post is about decreasing the time each animal stays with a shelter or rescue group, which allows that group to save more lives.

For example, if an open-admission shelter knows it will take in an average of 25 animals every single day, then that shelter’s goal should be to average 25 adoptions every single day.

You can read the full post here, but here are some tips according to Toellner:

Tips to decrease a dog or cat’s stay at a shelter

Dog for adoption Kansas City

1. Keep your shelter open every day.

That means being open on Saturdays and Sundays, every week day and most holidays. People want to adopt on weekends and holidays because they aren’t at work!

2. Market the hell out of your organization and pets.

Pay to advertise if you can. Otherwise, post the pets on your web site, on all social media feeds and hand out fliers at events like parades in the community. Hang fliers at coffee shops, apartment buildings, etc. (Bramble, above, is up for adoption with the Kansas City Pet Project. More on him here.)

Bloggers: Sometimes we think our posts featuring dogs for adoption don’t matter, but they do matter!

3. Be open with your adoption policies.

If people show up to adopt a pet, let them leave with a pet! Don’t reject people for silly reasons like working too little or too much, planning to have children, not having a fence, not owning a home, etc.

4. Get animals spayed and neutered immediately.

Sometimes shelters wait until a pet is officially adopted before it goes through the expense of spaying/neutering that animal. This means the adopter has to come back in a day or two to get the pet and it means the pet will be taking up space at the shelter during that time.

Ideally, the pets should already be altered prior to adoption and ready to go (when possible). If not, send them home and have the adopter take the animal to the spay/neuter appointment. Remember, most people want to spay/neuter their pets. Have a little trust!

5. Treat foster homes with urgency too.

Foster homes are like kennel space, and the goal should always be to get those pets adopted quickly as well. Getting those pets adopted faster means people will be more likely to keep fostering, and they will be able to help new animals in need.

For more details, check out the KC Dog Blog’s full post here.

KC Pet Project video

Finally, I want to leave you with this inspiring video from KC Pet Project, a group that constantly looks for ways to save more lives. Read more about the KC Pet Project in my post about no kill here. The video is well done, inspiring and about 4 minutes long.

What are your ideas for getting dogs and cats adopted faster?

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15 thoughts on “How to Quickly Get Dogs Adopted – Decreasing Time of Stay in Shelters”

  1. I wish all shelters did these things! Some of them must be very hard, like handling the expense of being open seven days a week. The group I’m with sometimes allows the adopters to take their new pet to the neuter appointment if they adopt a kitten who’s still a little too small for surgery. What we do is have them sign a foster contract and the kitten is still “ours” legally until the cat is altered and has his last shots, then they officially adopt the cat. I think it’s a fair compromise.

  2. Awesome article, Lindsay!

    As a foster home, I often thought that my dogs were not urgent. And every time my dog got adopted and the shelter posted the Happy Tails picture on their facebook page, the foster family was never thanked or even mentioned. Which is sad because otherwise maybe more people would be aware of fostering and willing to give it a shot.
    So yes, I strongly agree with point number 5. And I might shamelessly ask the shelter to thank the foster homes publicly after the foster pet gets adopted. 🙂 (Our shelter does appreciate the volunteers and thanks them in person.)

    And point number 3. Recently, a rescue friend on facebook wrote that any potential adopter who wants to potty train a dog by sticking its nose into its own pee gets automatically rejected. No dogs for bad owners. Sad, sad, sad. I have no words for such closed mindedness.
    Our shelter is open Saturdays and Sundays and they spay and neuter right away if the dog is up to it.

    The video by KC Pet Project makes me want to go there and adopt one of their cuties.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I have felt the same way about fostering, so I understand what you are saying. I also want to be thanked, and if I were thanked I would be more eager to foster again faster. This isn’t the case as much with the group I’m with now, but in the past I felt this way. I thought about volunteering to represent the rescue and personally write a thank you note to each new foster home. Perhaps I should do that with the current rescue I’m with. I think little things like that make a huge difference.

      1. I’m glad I’m not alone with this feeling. It seems like a basic customer service to thank publicly the foster family or any other special person who cared for the pet. A volunteer took one dog hiking every weekend and was tirelessly networking the dog. The dog got finally adopted after spending a very long time at the shelter and the special volunteer was never even mentioned. The dog wasn’t spotted directly through her advertising efforts but she kept the dog socialized and exercised and never gave up. I thanked her because she also kept me motivated.

    2. (Regarding the above mentioned potty training method: my husband thought that this is how you do it. He is a good guy, he loves our dog but he would have been rejected by a rescue. I told him that I’m in charge of any adoption applications because you have to know how to work the (sad) system. LOL.)

      1. Lindsay Stordahl

        A lot of people think this is the best way to potty train. It’s not that they are bad dog owners. It’s just what they’ve been taught. It’s no reason to reject someone! It’s an opportunity to possibly suggest other training methods. That’s how my husband would’ve potty trained a dog/puppy as well.

  3. I totally agree with your discussion on valuing foster & volunteers. I would add that great photos make a huge difference. With social media, shelters can now reach out to local photographers easily. And use Craigslist! I found all of my animals on Craigslist. 🙂

    Also providing as much info as possible can accelerate people’s decision making process. What is the dog’s energy level, temperament, good with dogs, cats, kids, etc. so that people are not left to guess about important things.

    My local shelter made this awesome video recently:

    They also got their adoptable dogs featured on the jumbotron at the baseball game last weekend. Good stuff!

  4. These are all such great ideas. Social media goes such a long way in getting dogs adopted, I’ve discovered. The shelter I’m involved with recently put out a plea regarding a girl they’ve had since December, begging folks to share her. Guess what? She was adopted within two days.

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