|For Shelters &
|Notes on Language|
|Labels & Language|
|For Dog Owners|
You’ve done the work: the dogs in your care are evaluated as individuals, as are potential adopters. But how do you get the public to take notice of all the wonderful “pit bull” dogs on the adoption floor?
Welcome Committee: Recruit your most outgoing, well-behaved “pit bull” dog to act as the ‘greeter’ in the lobby. By meeting a terrific “pit bull” dog as they enter, visitors will immediately engage in a positive experience with a dog they may have feared in the past. Ask a trusted volunteer to work the crowd with your greeter dog or place your greeter behind a desk, gate, or in a crate, so the public can see them right away. This first impression, before they make their way into the kennels, is a great chance to introduce your visitors to “pit bull” dogs and help open their hearts and minds to other dogs in the shelter.
Good First Impressions: If dogs are bored or anxious in kennels, make Busy Buckets or frozen Kongs for them to work on while the public visits. This positive activity will give the dogs something to do besides jumping, barking and pacing, and helps them present better to the public. A happy, quiet dog is more likely to be adopted. Keep kennels clean, especially during adoption hours.
Support Dogs in Need: If a dog is highly aroused or reactive in his kennel, hang a sheet or other barrier on his kennel door (high enough to block his view, but low enough for adopters to see in). Hang a cheerful sign on the cage that says “I’m friendly, just enjoying some privacy. Can you toss me a treat?” Or consider placing him in a different part of the shelter where he is relaxed, like an office or break area, then hang his photo on the empty kennel to let adopters know he’s available for adoption and looking forward to meeting visitors in his favorite spot!
Keep It Simple: Instead of overloading the front of kennels with lengthy paperwork that adopter may find confusing, pick one or two smaller signs that highlight the important information adopters need to know about each dog. Rather than focus on why a dog wound up at the shelter, their medical history, or what behaviors they need to work on, keep the information upbeat and focused on what the dogs enjoy doing with people. Are they excellent cuddlers or the perfect jogging buddy? Let adopters know right on the front of kennel. It will encourage them to meet the dog and learn more.
A Vision of Family Life: Create a bulletin board where staff and volunteers can share comments about the dogs (“Lily loves having her ears scratched!” or “Petey is a perfect gentleman on leash!”). Decorate the board with photos of the dogs doing things outside of their kennels, such as: napping on a couch, taking a walk, or hanging out with kids or other dogs. These images and comments will help adopters visualize the shelter dogs in their own homes.
For more ideas on how to relieve the stress of kenneling and improve the way dogs are shown to the public, see our Best Practices: Kennel Enrichment
SPOTLIGHT ON SUCCESS: NEVADA HUMANE SOCIETY
Just recently, Nevada Humane decided to partner with NASCAR's TJ Bell to promote "pit bull" dog adoptions. They reduced the adoption fee to $5 for a limited time and are educating the community about the fact that "pit bull" dogs do not represent a single breed (it's a term to describe their appearance). They are also highlighting the fact that dogs' personalities are as diverse as their adopters. Best of all? Their adoption staff is working hard to make the best individual matches!