Shelter Comes Up With Clever Way To Find Dogs Forever Homes And Save Other Pups’ Lives

What’s a shelter to do when an adorable dog stirs fights between potential adopters? One animal shelter developed an uncommon solution: accepting pledges, or “bids”, to adopt the pup.

It’s a problem many shelters face after a popular type of dog reaches their shelter. Once the cute dog appears on their website or the local news, an outpouring of people desperate to adopt that particular pet call and visit. Disputes break out and the shelter bears the brunt of the anger for adopters who miss out. One shelter even reported people camping out in the parking lot overnight to guarantee first pick.


To combat the intense competition, Licking County Animal Shelter in Ohio switched from a “first-come, first-serve” policy to a pledge system. Under the previous system, people could put a hold on a pet to adopt her after the 72-hour hold period. But that policy led to problems.

Potential adopters would place a $10 deposit without even meeting the pet, denying anyone else the chance for adoption. In some cases, a person playing with a dog in the would go to place a hold, only to find out that someone else put down a deposit while they bonded with the dog. Others placed a deposit but never returned after the hold period was over, which delayed that dog’s adoption day for even longer.


Inspired by Lake County Dog Shelter in Ohio, LCAS changed their adoption system. Now, would-be adopters submit time-stamped pledges for at least $1 over the standard $125 adoption fee. The amounts remain sealed, but adopters can ask about the number of other people clamoring to adopt the same pet. If no one else “bids” on the pet, they can adopt the dog for the standard adoption fee. This program allows everyone interested in a popular dog a chance at adoption, according to Licking County Chief Dog Warden David Shellhouse.


While some people have walked away disappointed, this system reduces stress for the shelter – and offers a lifesaving benefit.  The additional money raised goes into a special medical fund, generating thousands of dollars for other pets. At Lake County Dog Shelter, the highest bid ever was $900 – enough to help many other pets in need!


The ingenuity of these two shelters to solve this problem can inspire other shelters to come up with similar solutions. Yet there’s a way adopters can help, too. Puppies and purebreds generate a lot of excitement. But as pages like Susie’s Senior Dogs show, the older or scruffier dog in the next pen has just as much love to give. For tips on finding the best dog for you, visit the ASPCA.

Dr. Katy Nelson

6 years ago