Do any of you work in a veterinarian’s office or shelter? If so, what are the words that you wish you could forbid people to say when they walk into the lobby and find that they are the only ones there at the moment? Say it with me:
“Wow, it’s quiet in here today!”
It’s almost guaranteed that when those words are said out loud, within minutes, the phones will start ringing and cars will start pulling into the parking lot and pet-related emergencies will just start busting loose. I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes, many times.
Which is why I feel a little anxious about saying what I’m going to say next: Are the shelters emptying out? Have all the people who are out of work and working from home who have ever wanted a dog recently adopted a dog?
Fewer dogs are available for adoption
My shelter currently has six adoptable dogs. Just six! Often, they have 30 or more!
I’ve also received requests for help with locating dogs to adopt. I’ve heard it again and again: Everyone is going to their local shelters, but there aren’t many dogs to adopt!
I heard this, too, from the West Coast coordinator for the American Black and Tan Coonhound Rescue (ABTCR), a group I have transported dogs for and have helped place dogs through. My local shelter had an American Foxhound that they were having trouble placing, and the ABTCR contacted me, asking if I could transport him to their facility a couple hours’ drive away. No problem! Happy to help!
I expressed my gratitude to the coordinator; since I first met her about 8 years ago, her group has taken in at least a dozen hounds from my local shelter. That’s a significant burden, as she has fostered as many as 30 hounds at a time in her dog daycare/boarding facility for the ABTCR. Her response to my thanks? “I will have him placed in a week; we have way more adopters than hounds at the moment!” WOW. I did a little happy dance at that news!
Since the first shelter-in-place orders went out in mid-March, I’ve had a hand in a few adoptions myself. One was a dog who was pointed out to me by another shelter volunteer; the dog is active and craves attention from people, and her behavior was deteriorating in the shelter. I spent just a few minutes with her and decided to bring her home to foster; she was super smart and sweet and really needed to get out and run! I kept posting photos of her on my personal Facebook page, and after a few weeks of fostering, she found a great home with a young couple, friends of my son who live a few hours away.
Good photos get dogs adopted
Then, a few weeks ago, I spent a couple mornings at the shelter, helping with behavior assessments and taking photos of adoptable dogs. I can honestly say that new, good photos got one of the dogs adopted the very next day. The person who adopted her wondered where the dog had been hidden; she hadn’t seen her photo on the website before! Actually, she had; it’s just that the intake photos were so bad, the woman wasn’t previously drawn to the dog at all.
I helped connect another dog I photographed with an adopter a couple days later. I remembered that a friend who works in rescue locally had told me that she had an adopter looking for a nice, large dog. We don’t get enough people who specifically want BIG dogs! So when I saw this large, fuzzy, super-friendly fellow, I gave my friend a ring. Her acquaintance adopted the dog days later. Yahoo!
Another friend of my son contacted me, hoping I could help him find the first dog he would be adopting as an adult out on his own. He had been raised in a family with lots of dogs, but hadn’t ever had one of his own. He wanted a friendly dog who isn’t too big or too small, athletic but not bananas, not a puppy but not old … and I almost fell over myself with excitement. I had just the dog for him! I fell in love with this little terrier when I met her at the shelter, and was so happy to fix her up with my son’s friend.
For the past two weeks, I have been buried in work, getting the August issue to the printer, and with no time to get to the shelter. So I was thrilled when I saw only six dogs available for adoption. I’ll get over there in the next few days and take some more pictures.
But now I’m curious and anxious and happy, all at once: Are the shelters emptying out where you are, too?