The search for a new pet can feel overwhelming and exciting at the same time, but it’s important to be patient and take time to find the right match for your home. Sometimes people want a specific breed because of certain desired characteristics, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a pet will be a match. Or, people pick a pet just based on looks alone, without taking into consideration their personality or activity level. And of course, there’s always the question of whether a dog or cat needs to be the only pet, or would do well in a home with other animals.
Dogs are individuals, and while they should never be judged by their breed or age, a dog’s personality and behavior are important factors in determining whether they’re right for your family. Some pets are uncomfortable around young children, or they perhaps prefer a quiet home and low-key lifestyle. Others are highly active and need a family that will provide daily exercise to help them burn off excess energy.
According to the ASPCA, 47 percent of dogs and 42 percent of cats that are rehomed are given up because of issues with behavior, health, or their size. And all too often, pets are returned because they were “too much” for someone to handle. With a goal of helping pets find permanent homes and reducing the number of pets that are surrendered back due to conflicts or incompatibilities, these programs and services help ensure that people find their perfect match.
Making Sure Everyone Finds Their Forever Home
The ASPCA, which not only operates several shelters across the U.S. but provides helpful training and resources for shelters and rescue organizations, has created a unique program to help shelter animals find their perfect match. Using the Canine-ality and Feline-ality Adoption Program, shelter workers evaluate each pet based on factors such as sociability, energy level, motivation, and “people manners,” then uses color-coded assessment scores to assign the dog or cat a color for their kennel cage card.
To find their perfect pet match, potential adopters take a survey that helps them determine their pet preferences. Their survey score then assigns them a color that correlates with pets matching those requirements. People are then shown pets that share their color code and can spend time getting to know each one’s personality until they find a fit. Shelters that have used this method have found both an increase in adoptions and a decrease in the number of pets returned due to incompatibility.
The Denver Animal Shelter assigns their dogs different behavior levels to help match them with the right family. Each level gives a thorough description of typical behaviors, such as tolerance of being handled, sociability, and activity. Level 1 dogs are suited for most homes, including those with small children. A Level 5 dog, on the other hand, needs extra help with socialization and training. The method aims to place pets in homes where they will be most comfortable, and it helps adopters understand the dog’s personality and specific needs.
Using Online Matchmaking for People and Pets
Online services are a popular way to help people find their human match, but now they can use them to find their canine match as well. One new company, How I Met My Dog, works with shelters and foster-based organizations to help adoptable dogs — and in particular, those that might have a harder time getting adopted — find the right family. The service, which is free for shelters to use, charges potential adopters a small free to complete a survey and profile. An algorithm then produces results for available dogs in their area that match their criteria.
Another online program, Paws Like Me, is used by organizations like Best Friends Animal Society to help potential adopters find the right match. This company also uses a questionnaire and algorithms to find compatible pets based on the dog’s energy level, independence (how much affection they like), focus, and confidence. The goal of both services is to help people find pets based on the best fit, rather than having people focus solely on looks and breed.
Finding Your Perfect Match
These are just some of the ways shelters are working to place pets in the right home and reduce the number of returned pets. Many organizations also use foster homes and adoption coordinators, which involve volunteers getting to know animals as individuals and matching them with potential families.
Pets are a long-term commitment, so before you adopt, take time to consider what you want in a companion. Base your decision on fit, not looks or breed, and remember that all pets, regardless of breed or age, require time and patience.
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