FAQ: Clear the Shelters

Posted July 14
Updated July 15

"National Dog Day"

What is Clear The Shelters?

Clear The Shelters is a nationwide pet adoption initiative that brings shelters, rescue groups, and adopters together to find loving homes for pets in need. This is done through partnerships between animal adoption groups and NBC-owned television stations. The event will be held on Saturday, July 23, 2016, and hundreds of animal organizations will participate across the country.

In central North Carolina, WRAL is partnering with eight area shelters. Some organizations in the Triad and Charlotte area are also participating.

Will all of the shelters and rescues operate the same for Clear The Shelters?

Not entirely. For the most part, the shelters and rescues participating in the event will be unified in theme, date and times they are open to the public (10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in most cases).

But within each shelter or rescue, there may be protocol differences, different application guidelines, and different adoption processes. Most will require a valid photo ID to adopt. Some may require things such as vaccination records of current pets and housing approval checks, while others may not. 

It is recommended that interested adopters check with the organizations closest to them that are participating in the event to ask questions ahead of time and to be prepared prior to July 23.

Won’t waiving or reducing adoption fees mean people are more likely to return or rehome pets? Won’t they think of them as having less worth or value?

Surprisingly, no! Research has consistently shown that the quality of an adoption and the perceived value of a pet has nothing to do with what the adopter pays for the pet. Instead, it shows that the best indicator of whether adopters will keep and value the pet they adopt is whether it was a good match in the first place.

Studies nationwide have shown that return rates for shelters do not significantly increase when fees are waived or reduced. And organizations that have studied the emotional connection that adopters make with pets have found worth of the animal to be far less connected to what the animal costs up front than was historically believed. More info on some of the many studies that national organizations have conducted on this issue and the data they found can be found online in many places.

What should I consider before adopting?

There are many things to consider when committing to a new member of the family! Cost, lifespan of the pet, your lifestyle, housing/landlord obstacles, and future plans are some of the most important.

Make sure you can financially care for a pet, including not only food, but also medical care (including preventative routine care).

Check with your landlord or housing complex if you don’t own your home and make sure everyone in the household is on board to adopt.

Most importantly, choose a pet that matches your lifestyle, both today and going forward. Consider activity level, ages in the home, whether you’ll be having children later, career goals and their effects, and whether you’ll move before you adopt a pet.

Be sure you can commit for good and that you and the pet you choose can adapt to any of the situations that may apply to you.

Questions to consider before you bring home a pet

What pets need adoption the most?

Shelters and rescue groups always need adopters willing to consider those pets that are less likely to be adopted quickly. If you have the time and ability to open your home to a pet that may have a harder time finding an adopter, there are four major groups to consider!

Older Pets: There are many reasons that adopting an older pet is a great idea. These often overlooked animals have their stuff together and are ready to make an easy and carefree transition into your home! Less destructive, easier to train, and equipped with an established personality, middle aged and older pets have more perks than you might initially think. And while it’s true that they may have fewer years left than a baby, many of these overlooked pets have years and years left in them (small dogs and cats can live upwards of 20 years). And with the manners and training they already possess, you’re really only skipping the frustrating years in many cases!

Pets with Special Needs: Adopting a pet with a medical or other special need is a wonderful thing to do. These pets often require only minimally more work than non-special-needs animals, and the rewards can be exponentially larger in return!

Pit Bulls: Many of the shelter dogs waiting to find homes in shelters are Pit Bulls or Pit Bull mixes. This breed (and breeds such as Rottweilers, Chows, Shepherds, and Dobermans) have gotten bad reputations over the years due to things like illegal activity, careless breeding, and neglect. However, these dogs can make excellent pets for many adopters and can be very lovable and rewarding animals. As with any pet you adopt, have the dog meet with all family members and other dogs in the household if possible to make sure it is a good match up front!

Black Pets: Black animals have a harder time standing out in shelter environments, despite each one being very different and unique in many ways! Some are also discriminated against because of legends associated with bad luck or evil, but shelter employees and millions of pet owners can tell you that those legends are just myths! Black animals are just as loving as any, and they would love to love YOU!

Is it true that two cats are better than one?

It certainly often is true that adopting two cats or adding a second cat to your home can be beneficial for you and the animals. In the case of kittens, it’s almost always better to adopt a pair of kittens together if you can. Not only do they grow into lifelong friends, they also keep each other company while you’re away. Having a playmate to provide mental stimulation, teach good socialization and manners, and provide round-the-clock entertainment is the best way to have a happy (and less destructive!) kitten join your home.

For adult cats, there can also be many perks to having a pair, especially if you carefully make the decision with many factors in mind. If you have no cats at home and think you may be interested in two, ask staff if there’s a pair already bonded. Many cats come in together and would love to stay together for all the reasons above. If you only have one cat at home, he or she may still enjoy a companion, but be sure to make a slow and steady introduction and provide enough space for each cat to take his or her time to make friends. They are slower than dogs in many instances, but they will eventually appreciate having a buddy in most cases if they are introduced properly.

Staff can help you identify those shelter cats that may have lived with other cats in the past or those that seem interested in making friends with the cats around them.

If you definitely only want one cat or can only afford veterinary care for one, ask staff about adoptable cats that may prefer to be solo pets! In most cases, kittens will really benefit from the stimulation a buddy can provide, especially if you work away from home. But there may be young adult or older cats that would prefer to be your only feline and would be a great match for your needs, while having their needs met too.

If you are only interested in a young kitten and cannot take two, ask staff to point you in the direction of a few kittens that are well socialized and independent enough to succeed on their own.

I can’t adopt right now. Is there anything else I can do to help?

Shelters and rescues always have needs that go beyond adoption! While each has its own set of priorities, almost all can benefit from donations, volunteers and ambassadors!

Can't adopt? You can still help shelter pets

Donations in the form of money, food/treats/supplies, or adoption fee sponsorships (when available) are great ways to help animal organizations.

If you prefer to help in other ways, ask if volunteers are needed and, if so, what areas need the most help. And even if you can’t give time or money, every organization needs community members out spreading the word about their services, the positive work they do, their animals, and messages about important topics like pet overpopulation.

Shelter staff may be chaotically busy during large adoption events, so if you are interested in helping out, take a business card and follow up with someone. Or leave your information with a staff member so that someone can follow up with you when there is time to have a great and productive conversation about how you can help the animals in your community benefit from you and your unique skill set.


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