I was at a shelter conference recently where I heard some great suggestions for improving the lives of animals in shelters and it inspired me afterwards to come up with some of my own suggestions but because I'm quite lazy, I just looked up previous posts to see if I could rehash something I'd written before and, voilà, I found something.
This is an update of a post I posted years ago and by update I mean I've added a word or two and changed some grammar around not for any real purpose other than so I can call this an update so I don't have to call this a repost because reposts are lame.
There is some foul language here because sometimes in life there is foul language.
I've been reading some really informative information about adoption strategies and how to improve them so that shelters can better compete with pet stores and backyard breeders and Japanese toy robot manufacturers. While some of the advice is quite good, coming from experts and people who actually know what they're talking about, I've always liked to pride myself in thinking that I'm someone who thinks out of the box so I've come up with some additional adoption strategies which I call super strategies because they are super.
1. Add "Loo-hoo" to the end of every dog name. Cindy might sit in her cage for weeks but Cindy Loo-hoo will get adopted in no time. Annie becomes Annie Loo-hoo. Mabel becomes Mabel Loo-hoo. Don't those names sound so much more appealing? For male dogs, instead of adding "Loo-hoo", add "Big Nuts".
2. Point out to the potential adopters some benefits to dog ownership they may not have thought about such as:
i. Everyone blames the dog for their own farts but did you know you can also blame the dog next time you crap on the kitchen floor?
ii. Your dog can help you get into shape by hitting the play button on the DVD player with the P90X/Tough Mudder/Zumba video in it when you're too lazy to get your ass off the couch to find the remote control.
iii. A dog is not only good for scaring away thieves but is also good for biting the postman - which is good if you don't like the postman because he's the father of that goddamn kid running around in your house. Goddamn postman.
iv. The next time you get caught on video smoking crack just point to the dog and say, "No, I believe that was the dog in the video," which doesn't make any sense but it's a better way to abrogate responsibility than saying it's because you were in a drunken stupor.
3. Put two dogs in a kennel. If someone shows interest in one of the dogs, tell the person that the two dogs are bonded and they need to be adopted out together. If the person protests or gives some excuse about not being able to take on two new dogs, start dancing around, wave your arms in the air and make weird guttural noises and then stop and, with one eyeball, stare at the guy and tell him you've just cursed him so his penis will fall off. If the person's a woman, this strategy probably won't work.
4. A nice way to bring some attention to a dark coloured dog is to tie a colourful bandanna around its neck. Either that or make the dog look like long term job security with a reliable pension.
5. One strategy that often works with potential adopters is to tell some sob story about the dog. Really try to give the story lots of juicy details to get the person to really empathize with the dog. If that doesn't work tell the person you've slept with their girl/boyfriend and s/he really isn't all that hot but that's really all they deserve so there.
6. Have a "trade-in day" event. This is where you advertise to the public that they can bring in their old dogs and trade them in for younger ones, maybe even for puppies if you've got some. When someone shows up with their old dog to do this, take him into the sub-basement and throw him into the fiery pit to Hell. This won't increase your adoptions but it might make you feel better and it also gets you bonus points with Satan. You can also have a "moving day" event or a "doesn't match the new furniture" event.
7. Tell the potential adopter that you've got the most amazing dog just for them. Take the person to any dog and ask the person to say "Hello" to it. As soon as the person's done this, you say "Hello" in a dog-like voice but try not to move your lips. Then point to the dog and say, "Ta daa. A talking dog!" It may take a couple more lines of dialogue before the potential adopter is convinced. If the person still isn't convinced and walks away, say in your dog voice: "Yeah, well, I slept with your girlfriend/boyfriend and s/he's not all that hot," and then shrug and point at the dog.
8. If you're showing an older couple around, tell them that a dog is a great child replacement for empty nesters. Tell them that it'll be just like it used to be when they weren't so old and were surrounded by children who loved them but who have now all left home and hardly ever call anymore and are already planning on how to spend their inheritance money. If the old fogies say something like they like not having kids around and can now spend more time vacationing, start bawling your eyes out and in between sobs tell them that you just lost your own parents last week when they were killed while on vacation.
9. Sometimes dogs stay in a shelter way too long through no fault of their own. People just pass them by. You must make every effort to help these dogs find a home. Next time someone comes in looking for a dog, show the person this particular dog. If the person shows disinterest and starts to walk away, proclaim in a loud and determined voice, "Okay, that's it." Take a bottle of vaguely sinister looking pills (you can use Tic Tacs dipped in blue food colouring for this) and start popping them into your mouth and swallowing. When the person looks horrified and asks what you're doing, say: "I made a pact with myself that if I didn't get this poor dog adopted out today by 11:00 [use whatever time it is at the moment], I'd kill myself because I have failed this animal." This should be enough to encourage the person to adopt the dog. If the person still does not show interest in adopting the dog then throw the rest of the "pills" in the person's face and say, "Fuck you, at least I tried," and walk away.
10. When I was a kid, like 10 or 11, I had this next door neighbour who was like 5 or 6 and he used to be able to vomit on command. He had an older sister whom I had a crush on. Sometimes he'd chase his older sister around while trying to puke on her. She'd start screaming and then he'd take his pants off and then continue chasing her while trying to vomit and she'd scream even louder. I'm sure you can understand how being puked on by a kid with no pants on is so much worse than being puked on by a properly dressed one. The rest of us kids in the neighbourhood would get in on the action and chase the brother around (while he was chasing his sister around) and whenever we could, we'd pick up some dirt and throw it at him. Ah, lovely childhood. The next time you've hit an awkward moment of silence with a potential adopter, feel free to use this story as your own and place yourself in any of the three main roles. It will help to cement the bond of trust between you and the adopter. Thus, when you say the 200 pound unhousetrained Mastiff who eats twelve cups of food a day and craps ten is perfect for the single adopter who has eight kids all under five and lives in a basement apartment, the adopter will have a greater tendency to believe you. Also, this last point rounds out this list to a nice even ten points and I was told that's the way lists should be done (instead of leaving it at nine).