It Takes A Village
One sad statistic that is recorded in the animal welfare field is ‘adoption return rate’. This is the percentage of animals who are adopted and then at some point in their lives, returned.
The reasons for return are pretty much all the same: moving (new landlord will not allow), not enough time, can’t housebreak, or can’t afford any more. Regardless, the outcome is that the animal is returned to the shelter. The ASPCA reports that the national average for adoption return is 26-percent! But what’s not reported in that number is the psychological effects on animals with so much change and inconsistency in their lives. The inability to trust or relax; separation anxiety caused by so many hours left alone; or kennel aggression due to long stays at shelters--because unfortunately, once an animal is returned the percentage they will be returned AGAIN dramatically increases--kind of like humans getting into the court system.
At LTBHS, 26 percent is just too high of a number to accept! In fact, every program we offer is established to increase adoption rates and decrease return rates. Our foster homes are invaluable as they offer a warm, safe environment for shelters animals to stay in until they are old enough for adoption. We have found that kittens who have the opportunity to stay with their moms to be nursed and consistently held by their foster families turn out to be adult cats with very few behavior problems like urinating outside the litter box, biting, or fighting with other cats.
Our Doggie Daycare and Daycare and Train Programs were instituted to be an aid in the transition from shelter dog to owned dog, as well as our Ruff to Ready Behavioral Training Program, which allows new owners to work with a trainer to solve behavioral problems. Both of these programs focus on working through bumps in the road, not just returning a dog because they are not perfect.
Adopting an animal from a shelter can be the most rewarding experience, but it can also be frustrating. LTBHS wants to be part of the solution in reducing the number of animals returned to the shelter. In fact, our return rate hovered around 12 percent for years until we launched these programs. I am happy to report that in 2014 LTBHS celebrated our lowest return rate ever at five percent! Every successful adoption has a ‘village’ behind it. We can’t do it alone and we aren’t! Thank you to all who have a role in saving the lives of the many homeless animals who have come through our doors.