Let’s Talk About “Screening” Adopters Angela MarcusFeatured, NO SYSTEM IS PERFECT In the few months since our site went live, I’ve been asked a number of times what we do about “screening” adopters. For sure, nobody wants to see the wrong kind of person get hold of an animal. In the many years that I have been in the animal welfare field, I’ve seen all kinds of screening criteria, including a written application, copy of driver’s license, personal references, home visitations and more. The honest truth of the matter is that there is no ideal test to guarantee an adopter’s suitability, any more than there is any way to guarantee the character of anyone you meet under any circumstances. IT’S A BALANCING ACT Some shelters have almost no requirements. Some have very, very strict hoops they put potential adopters through and still that doesn’t guarantee a successful adoption. Meanwhile, the restrictions they place (like requiring a fenced-in yard, for example) cause them to reject many, many otherwise good, potential adopters. And, because space and money are tight in a shelter, many, many pets that could have been adopted languish in cages or are put to death. SO WHAT’S THE ANSWER? The backbone of our system is not a series of hoops administered by well-meaning, but overworked and underpaid shelter employees. It’s the guardian (pet owner). The person who loves the pet most. Who knows the pet’s likes and dislikes and needs. Who wants to find the best new home possible for the pet, so much so that they came to getyourpet.com rather than just drop the pet off at the pound. This is the person most interested and best suited to judge whether an adopter is a good fit. (We offer help to our guardians with a whole list of Questions to Ask a Potential Adopter listed under the Tips for Guardians section of our site.) THE SECOND PART OF OUR PLAN The other element in our system is our payment mechanism. We “pre-qualify” anyone wanting to adopt on our site by asking them to leave credit/debit card information before communicating with guardians. Even though they aren’t charged until they actually adopt a pet, this insures that they are sincere about wanting to adopt and have the finances to afford pet ownership. If and when an adoption is completed, we charge the adopter $99, considerably lower than most shelters or rescues, but enough to weed out people who don’t mean well. (Bad actors will mostly try to get a pet for free, from a Want Ad-type source, like CraigsList.) The $99 covers the cost of our service; provides the adopter a voucher for a free veterinary exam and, from most vets, a rabies vaccination, if necessary; and gives both the guardian and the adopter a legal adoption contract, which we believe is important for both parties. (See details at What does it cost?) JOB ONE: SAVE LIVES Getting pets re-homed and avoiding the shelter is what we are about. We don’t claim our approach is perfect (what is?), but it puts the decision-making in the hands of the people who care most. It is affordable. It gives pet lovers a chance to help each other. And most of all, it gives our best friends their best chance for happy lives in forever homes.