By Meredeth Barzen
“In the past, animals would be surrendered to us whenever their owners decided to come in,” says AHS’ Carrie Libera. “If it happened to be a very busy time, the animal may have had to wait to begin the process of getting to adoption. That pet would often have to wait for a kennel, then wait for an exam, then wait for space in the adoption center.”
It’s important to note that AHS’ five shelters are still open-admission facilities that accept any animal for any reason, including strays. But the surrender-by-appointment model (already implemented in several organizations around the U.S.) lends an element of preparedness to the process, Carrie says. Now, “we are expecting that animal, so we will have a kennel ready for them and staff ready to examine them. So rather than taking a week or so to go through the process and arrive in the adoption center, animals are getting there much faster—sometimes the day they come in.”
That’s how Dara, a German Shepherd/Rottweiler mix, came to be adopted by Minnesota Public Radio host Kerri Miller just two hours after she was surrendered. “[Dara] arrived at 11:22 a.m,” Carrie says. “She was examined and in the adoption center by 12:36 p.m. Kerri and her husband spotted her and put her on hold at 1:24 p.m.”
While all animals may not be adopted as swiftly, a face-to-face appointment is intended to make the surrender process more efficient on multiple levels. During the appointment, the shelter will be able to get as much information about the pet as possible, Carrie says. “We will find out why [the owners are] surrendering the pets, and can offer up resources that may help them keep their pets.” And if leaving an animal with AHS is the decision that’s ultimately made, details given to the shelter by former pet owners are passed along to adopting families.
What does Dara’s new family think of their golden-eyed girl? “She’s smart as a whip,” Kerri says. “Sweet as sugar and adorable when she lays on her back and wants her tummy scratched (which we’ve been doing a lot of since she came home with us). Now if she’d just sleep through the night!”