Shelter Operations

4 Matchmaking Considerations to Increase Successful Remote Adoptions

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Michelle Fournier

There is a lot which goes into the art and science of building and nurturing connections, but fundamental truths must be acknowledged in order to form a rock-solid foundation on which to build relationships. This ethos applies not only to human-to-human relationships, but absolutely to human-to-pet.

The draw of a pet to a potential adopter often begins with an image, the heart then takes the lead, and the process begins. However, in support of the ongoing effort to increase successful adoption rates, it is critically important that certain criteria be met before a match is made and an adoption is finalized. Adding to that, is our current state of contactless engagement, heightening the importance of hyper-awareness when connecting pets to new pet parents. 

Quarantine has opened up pet adoption to many people who had determined they were too busy to take on the added responsibility pre-COVID. And with the national rate of adoptions and fosters which has reportedly increased nearly 700 percent since the Coronavirus hit the US, it's crucial an influx of pet returns doesn't occur when stay-home orders lift. Finding the perfect match is more important than ever. Considerations include:

The Pet: Breed, Overall Health, Appearance

Most animal lovers scan Shelter pages and fall in love over and over, often with pets who fall into the definition of their “type”. This selection is often based on looks alone, and though we want adopters to be attracted to a potential pet, there are other factors to consider when looking for the perfect match:

  • Breed ~ Innate personality traits from energy levels, intellect, curiosity, and affection levels are intrinsic to certain breeds and affect overall compatibility
  • Overall Health ~ It is important to consider not just physical conditions, potential future as well as pre-existing, but also the mental health of the pet which can include PTSD and anxiety as these types of disorders can vastly affect the pets personality and as such greatly impact their perfect match
  • Appearance ~ Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and lets face it most relationships begin with attraction!


The Person: Work/Life Balance, Lifestyle, Health Considerations

The adoption process begins and ends with the person. Once the decision is made to adopt a pet, the matchmaking can begin. Though the 26 year old, outgoing male, urban, road-warrior sales manager may think he wants a lab mix puppy, his lifestyle is actually more conducive to a dog who is a middle aged, lower energy, introvert. It is the responsibility of the Shelter to guide that introduction and suggest the match for a more positive long term outcome.

Considerations for the adopter can include:

  • Work/life balance ~ Work travel, long office hours, volunteer commitments, family obligations
  • Lifestyle ~ Energetic/high-energy, outdoorsy, athletic, disposable income, weekend traveler
  • Health Considerations ~ Allergies, anxiety, physical disabilities
The Environment:

When thinking about the environment a pet will thrive in, it goes much deeper than just the proper dwelling. The environment the pet is being adopted into includes the following considerations:

  • Dwelling ~ Apartment, condo, single family home. What is the best physical home for the pet? Are there stairs, is there a back yard, is it fenced, a pool, is it situated where daily walks can be enjoyed if that is one of the pets needs
  • Who lives there ~ Are there children, elderly, people with special needs, other pets?
  • Activity level ~ Is there a lot of activity in the home or is it relatively quiet and peaceful
Pet Parent Philosophy:

The pet parent philosophy may be one of the most overlooked criteria when matchmaking adoptions and could be one of the most important in ultimately determining the success of the adoption. Identifying the following philosophical beliefs upfront can lead to more long term matches.

  • Training ~ From puppy school to manners, to obedience to tricks, where does the adopter stand on training and what can they commit to for their new pet
  • How the pet will live ~ Will the pet be allowed on the couch, to sleep in the bed, to go for rides for errands, be included in vacations
  • Position on rehoming the pet ~ What is the adopters position should the relationship “not work out”?

There are also the intangibles when it comes to matchmaking and perfect fits, those things you can’t touch or see but you can feel in your heart. It's called chemistry, and though in-person meet-and-greets are limited at best in most Shelters today, our ability to connect virtually is an incredible gift. Leverage video conferencing to connect the pet and potential adopters, it can't replace a touch and feel, but does provide an excellent stand in option suitable for our contactless times.


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