Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Adoption Process

We often get asked questions about our adoption process.

How long does it take?  
Does it matter if I've never had a bunny/piggy before?  
What sort of questions do I need to answer?

Well, I am about to give you an insider's look at our end of the adoption process, and I will give you some tips for facilitating the adoption process!

Every day, the rescue receives lots of emails and messages.  We get inquiries via Petfinder, our email on our website, adoption questionnaires, and messages/comments on Facebook.  A great many of them are messages looking to surrender animals (we are currently closed to surrenders).  Some are adoption inquiries.  We also receive questions about animal care, vet recommendations, and behavioral issues.  With only a handful of us to answer these, it can get a little overwhelming sometimes!  We do our best to respond in a timely manner, but we do all have our own lives to deal with as well.  Adoption hint: If you don't hear back from us within a few days, please send us a polite message to ask if we received your inquiry.

We receive all manner of crazy emails and requests.  Just when we think we've heard it all, something else comes along that leaves us scratching our heads!  Sometimes people include notes with the adoption questionnaire telling us that they think a particular question is ridiculous (this does not give us a good first impression).  Believe me, we have our reasons for asking each and every question!  We get the occasional "My grandson's 4th birthday is tomorrow, and I need a bunny by 2pm!" (Needless to say, this request will be denied).  We've had volunteers cursed at because we do NOT adopt unaltered rabbits out for breeding purposes.  We've had volunteers yelled at because we do not do unapproved on-site adoptions.  We've been told that keeping an angora on anything but wire will "ruin his fur" (she wanted to adopt him to spin his fur - she was denied).  I've had someone call and say, "I want a bunny for my one year-old.  He's really good with animals."  Your one year-old may be more gentle than most, but he is still one!  We are certainly not opposed to adopting to a family with a one year-old, but we will not adopt out a pet as a pet for a one year-old.  We also have people call the rescue line in the middle of the night, or call/text the rescue line 20 times in a row.  Adoption hint: Calling/texting the rescue line over and over will not get you an answer any faster!

We also tend to cringe a bit when someone writes in with an incredibly specific animal in mind.

I'm looking for a baby bunny with lop ears that won't get any bigger than 3 pounds and is white with a brown patch on the nose that likes to cuddle and be held.

We understand that people gravitate toward certain animals.  I myself am a sucker for lop bunnies and long-haired piggies.  I do, however, love all types of these critters!  I have a lop bunny, an uppy-ear bunny, a long-haired piggy, a short-haired piggy, and an Abyssinian piggy.  We will certainly do our best to match you with an animal that you love, but it is very helpful for you to keep an open mind.  Personality is what matters most - not looks.  Adoption hint:  Check out our Petfinder page before filling out an adoption questionnaire to see our adoptable animals.  We try to include personality descriptions - so be sure to read those!  On top of everything, keep an open mind.  Maybe you wanted a lop, mini-rex, etc., but will fall in love with someone different!  It helps us if you can pick out 1 or 2 adoptable animals to meet.  It can be overwhelming choosing between too many - we can help suggest possible matches! 

Okay, so you've looked at Petfinder and filled out an adoption questionnaire.  What comes next?  Well, on our end, we receive the questionnaire (or email/FB message), and one of us will respond to it.  If you send us a message on Facebook, we will most likely direct you to fill out our adoption questionnaire.  Right now there are 3 of us who regularly answer inquiries, but we are in the process of training a couple more volunteers as adoption counselors.  What comes next really depends on what you have sent us.  The more information you give us, the easier it is on our end!  We can gauge how much you know/don't know about the care of the animal you are inquiring about (it's okay if you don't know much yet - that's what we're here for!)

Each of us has a general response template that we use to respond.  Our job is to make sure that you know what you're getting into as far as pet ownership and to make sure that you will care for the animal you plan on adopting according to our standards.  If you already know and meet our standards, then the adoption process will go very quickly!  If you need some education, it will take a little longer.

Adoption hint:  Follow these guidelines before and during the adoption process -- 
  1. Do your research beforehand.  This makes a huge difference.  Remember, even if you had bunnies/piggies/other critters growing up, the care standards may have changed from what you remember.  We will not adopt to outdoor homes, homes that will provide less than adequate housing, or improper diet.
    1. Rabbit care guidelines:  http://www.rabbit.org
    2. Guinea pig housing:   http://www.guineapigcages.com/
    3. Guinea pig care guidelines:  http://www.cavymadness.com/care/index.html
    4. Hamster care guidelines:   http://www.hamsterific.com/
  2. Listen to us.  Getting offended when we tell you that you have the wrong cage or the wrong pellets won't get anybody anywhere.  The best thing you can do is have an open dialogue with us.  We are happy to give you the reason why a particular cage/diet/etc aren't acceptable.  We aren't accusing you - we just want our animals to go to the healthiest homes possible.
  3. Ask questions.  We are more than happy to answer questions - especially if you are new to the world of small animals!
  4. Give us as much information as possible to start.  Please be specific - this helps so much.  Instead of saying you'll feed your guinea pig pellets, tell us you plan to feed your guinea pig "Zupreem timothy pellets".  Instead of saying you already have a cage, tell us "I have such and such brand cage, and its dimensions are ___"x___".  Photos are a huge help!  Don't skip questions.  If you rent, we need to know your landlord's number so we can check to see if pets are allowed.  There is a reason for each question we ask.
  5. Answer our questions.  If we ask you a particular question, please answer it.  I recently had someone inquire about an animal.  I sent her a list of questions, as she had given me very little information to go on.  Instead of answering my questions, this person merely sent me an email - in capital letters - demanding to know whether I was allowing her to adopt the animal.  Take that as a "what not to do"!
I hope this gives potential adoptive families a perspective on what we go through, why we ask questions, and why we can't do adoptions immediately.  I also hope this helps as a guide to make the adoption process a bit easier!  We realize that going through the process can take time and effort, but our thinking is that if you're not willing to go through the initial effort, then pet ownership may not be for you.  In the end, our first concern is that our animals (many of whom have already been through so much) go to the best homes possible.  Will you be one of those amazing homes?

Or guinea pig, hamster, gerbil, ferret...