We dare you to walk through the Pope Memorial SPCA and not make a new addition to your family.
Whether you already have a dog, two cats or the equivalent of a small farm’s worth of animals at home, there’s no way you’re seeing all those adorable faces and saying no to giving them a great new life. Just not going to happen.
So you might as well go into your visit with the assumption you’ll be filling out an adoption form and eventually ending up with a new companion. They’ve got plenty of animals to choose from. Sure, they’ve got the typical ones like cats and kittens, dogs and puppies, but don’t forget about the host of smaller animals too – like rabbits, ferrets, birds and rats. There’s even been a bearded dragon up for adoption.
They all need a new home and let’s be honest here, you could probably use a new friend to snuggle with on the couch as the winter months approach.
But if you’re like us, you might not be 100 percent clear on how this whole process works. Can you take them home the same day? Do they do a background check? Do you have to prove an ability to speak animal?
Well, what we found out is in some circumstances, yes, kind of and no, you can communicate with your new friend in English or any language you choose.
First thing needed is an idea of what you’re looking for. Is it a dog, cat or something else? Do you want a kitten/puppy or an older animal looking for a final shot at living the good life? If you know, then it will be easier for the staff to help.
“This is a large commitment,” said Courtney Paquette, the SPCA’s lead adoption counselor. “We want to try and find the best match.”
Speaking of the SPCA staff, you’ll probably meet one very early in your visit – or one of the many friendly volunteers. They like to greet new visitors when they first walk through the door and get a feel for why you’re there. Are you really in the market for a new pet or do you merely feel like window shopping?
And if you want a new pet but don’t see any that fit what you’re looking for, fill out the application anyway cause the staff will keep it on file and an eye out for a potential match.
“Connection is the most important thing,” Paquette said. “And sometimes you just know there’s one right away.”
The application is pretty straight forward. They want to know if you have other pets, children in the house, if you rent or own and any type of vet history.
They’ll call landlords if you rent and the vet if you currently have pets, but don’t worry, they won’t call your 10th grade biology teacher to see what your level of understanding of the feline anatomy is.
Some of the animals are strays and the staff knows very little about their history. Others were surrendered for one reason or another and usually there’s a bit more info about the animal.
“Sometimes we really have to go by handling the animals and what we see in their behavior,” said Cathy Emerson, director of operations at the SPCA. “We put a lot into these animals.”
Each animal is spayed/neutered, micro chipped and given a dewormer. They’re checked for ear mites, fleas and treated for just about anything you can think of. But don’t worry, that’s all done behind the scenes before the animal is put on the adoption floor.
“We try to get a good feel from the medical side to see where they’re at,” said Frankie Brown, animal care manager. “Their length of stay is usually about two to three weeks.”
They want to make sure it’s a good match for both human and animal so if they seem to ask a lot of questions that’s cause they’re just trying to get to know you and what you’re experiences are. The most important thing, though, is the animal gets a good home.
Once you pick one that you like (or they pick you) they want to see how the interaction goes. Cats are more easy going so they fit into most situations. Dogs take a little more time and can require a few visits and definitely a meet and greet if there’s another pup in the home.
“It depends on the animal’s situation and the adopter’s situation,” Emerson said. “We want forever homes. That’s the goal.”
Sometimes it can be as little as a half hour for the adoption process to run its course, while others have entailed multiple visits and a couple weeks time. It all depends on the person and, of course, the animal.
“Some people don’t want to adopt the same day,” Paquette said. “They want to go home and think about it.”
And for the staff, adoptions come with mixed feelings.
“You do get to know them and develop different bonds with each animal,” Brown said. “When I come in I take a look around to see who’s still here. Sometimes it’s bittersweet.”
There’s a small fee associated, but can you really put a price on friendship and love? We didn’t think so.
For more info and the adoption form, visit popememorialspca.org.