Removing Barriers to Adoption

The world of sheltering and rescue is characterized by abundance in many ways: abundant caring, good will, bright ideas, and plenty of opportunities to create positive change. Alas, we are also endowed with an abundance of challenges: in many areas, unwanted and homeless animals still abound, and the community’s need for education and assistance with basic pet care can seem bottomless.

The one thing most shelters are not blessed with is an over-abundance of resources. In the context of limited resources and virtually limitless challenges, wise allocation of time, space, energy and money becomes literally a life and death issue.

In most communities, we simply can’t afford to provide unlimited care for every cat who is temporarily without a home, or find a traditionally defined “perfect forever home” for every cat, of every temperament and in any condition, who might appear on a shelter’s doorsteps.

It’s the job of shelters to prepare cats for adoption and then move them out as quickly as possible into permanent homes. In many cases, the quality of life in a home, even an imperfect one, is better than a cat’s experience in a shelter.

I sometimes teach a workshop called “From Shelterer to Rehomer.” We designed the workshop to help shelter professionals learn the subtle shift between keeping animals safe in a shelter to moving animals from the shelter into homes. I often ask in this workshop if the participants would like to bring their dogs or cats to the shelter and have them spend a couple of nights there. This is usually met with lots of folks emphatically stating, “No!” Think about it . . . we are not comfortable leaving our pets in the shelter, but we do not always have a sense of urgency to get the dogs and cats in our care out of the shelter and into homes.

-Emily Weiss, ASPCA


  • Getting farther by letting go

  • Controlling who has cats

  • Open adoptions

  • Strategic adoptions

  • Fee-waived and discounted cat adoptions

  • Pets as gifts

  • Holiday adoptions

  • Unfounded approaches

  • Returns and rehoming