With your never ending to do list of items, should you be investing your time conducting home inspection visits? Here’s our perspective and counterpoint perspective.
It is an unfortunate fact that animals are still being abused even in our modern society. Once we have taken in an animal into our care, it is our responsibility to ensure that the next situation they are placed in is healthy and appropriate for the animal. People lie on their adoption applications about the size of their home, whether they have a fenced in yard, where the animal will live (inside or outside) and whether there are other pets, children or other family members in their household. The only way to verify whether the information is correct is to physically send someone to inspect their household to ensure the information on the application is correct.
What to look for:
Accuracy of home environment versus what was on the adoption application.
Clues that the applicant may not be revealing the whole truth (i.e. dog house, or tether already setup when they indicated the dog would be allowed inside).
Signs that the environment may not be conducive to the type of animal the adopter is desiring. Similar to child-proofing a house, are there hazards that the animal can get into.
No matter how diligent you are, it is impossible to account for every possible situation when dealing with living, sentient animals. The sad truth is that 4 million companion animals are still being euthanized every year. That is one animal ever 16 seconds…of every minute, every hour, every day. Certainly we want what is best for the animals but we also have to be realistic in what is reasonable to accomplish. Even for a low volume rescue or shelter, attempting to schedule and conduct home visits of every applicant that wants to give an animal a loving home is not reasonable. It’s not just the time involved, but the perception that it is sending to the public which in turns causes people to goto a breeder instead. Just try Googling “Animal Rescue hard to adopt” and you’ll see a variety of articles and perspectives on how difficult it is to adopt an animal from a shelter or rescue. Is this really the message that we want to be sending? While an animal is occupying a space in our facility or foster home system, they are preventing another animal from filling it. It makes much more sense to build a thorough application and to educate potentials on the particular animal they are adopting than to pass judgement by invading their personal space to critique their lifestyle.
Like many things, there is no perfect answer and it’s not always a black and white answer. Here are some suggestions to consider when determining whether your organization will conduct home visits:
Request photos: By proactively indicating to potential adopters on your website what the process of adoption will be like, you alleviate much of the stress of the process from the adopters perspective. Explain to them how you want to find the right home for an animal to help them be happy with their selection. Some animals require more space, exercise and stimulation than others and choosing the right fit is critical to a perfect match. Simply by asking them to take a few photos on their smart phone of their house and key places like the backyard and where the animal will sleep can be much less invasive and foster a positive relationship with the adopter.
Focus on better matching: Many organizations do not use matching software or algorithms to pair the animals with adopters. They perceive it takes too much time to do but miss the overall value of an objective match supporting a better long term relationship. For example, we recommend Paws Like Me which has a very well defined quiz for animals and people alike that helps to match them based upon easy to answer questions. Adopters sometimes fall in love with the picture but then do not fall in love with the personality once the animal is home. We use matching for people’s relationships (eHarmony for example) so why not animals?
There is a lot of information out there about home visits. Some of better articles were written by larger media companies:
New York Times Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/23/fashion/thursdaystyles/so-you-think-you-can-just-adopt-a-dog.html