By Teri Carnicelli
A unique program that allows shelter dogs and cats to go on “sleepovers” with potential adopters has helped hundreds of homeless pets find the right homes.
The Arizona Animal Welfare League & SPCA, the state’s oldest and largest no-kill shelter, created the Slumber Party adoption process in 2013, and has sent more than 1,000 dogs and cats home with potential adopters on a trial basis.
The program has a 73-percent success rate for slumber party hosts coming back to finalize the adoption.
There is no pressure or commitment to the potential adopter, other than to fill out some simple paperwork and provide good care to the pet, points out Judith Gardner, president & CEO of AAWL & SPCA. A few days of food and other necessities are provided by the shelter. Calls are made throughout the next few days to see how the slumber party is going and to answer any questions. After a certain amount of time, the adopter can either return the pet or come back to AAWL & SPCA to adopt their new family member.
The innovative approach to adoption was created to help dogs and cats that don’t show their true personalities in a shelter environment, explains Gardner. While the shelter strives to create the most enriching environment possible for animals, it is not the same as a real home, and many times animals are shy or fearful.
“Most people expect that an adoptable dog will happily run to them with his tail wagging and they are disappointed if the dog shows no interest in them or, even worse, acts timid and afraid,” Gardner says. “Many cats are very shy when meeting someone new.
“Also, before taking on a huge commitment of a new pet, people are concerned that the new pet might not get along with another pet, or that someone in the family might be allergic to the new pet,” she adds. The slumber party allows potential adopters to be sure the match between people and pets is a good one.
“The worst-case scenario is that we find out more details about an animal’s behavior and personality from the family, even if they decide not to adopt,” Gardner says. “That helps us find the right home for that animal the next time. We consider it a win/win.”
To find out more, go to www.aawl.org or call 602-273-6852.
Also getting in on the “transitional” way to get homeless pets into forever homes in the Arizona Humane Society, which last year launched its Homeward Bound program.
The program gives potential adopters a head start on finding a new furry friend by opening their home to a pet who isn’t quite ready for adoption. They could be recovering from surgery, or have health issues like kennel cough, urinary tract infections, or even need to gain some weight.
Fosters provide a loving home to a pet who is healing from injury or needs respite from the shelter, and they have the opportunity to adopt that pet once they are ready to find their forever family. AHS provides all the medical treatment.
To see pets who are in need or for more information, visit www.azhumane.org/homeward-bound or call the AHS Alternative Placement Department at 602-997-7585, ext. 2059.