While much of the country is under orders to shelter at home, pet rescue groups across the country have reported skyrocketing interest in adoption and fostering. But considering that in most cities pounds and rescue groups are deemed nonessential businesses, the organizations have had to get creative about how they introduce their animals to the public while making sure the homes they do go to are the right fit.
In South Dakota, Alaska, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Oregon, Minnesota, California, and beyond, many rescue groups have pivoted to virtual meet and greet and adoptions. Rocket Dog Rescue in Oakland, California, is just one of the many groups who have taken their efforts online.
Each Saturday at noon, the group posts a collection of 30-second to two-minute-long clips on its Facebook page. Each video starts off by listing that dog’s stats (like their name, age, breed, and weight) before switching to more intangibles that could encourage or deter potential pet parents, like personality traits, likes and dislikes, health needs, and assorted quirks (like a dog’s hoarding tendency or another dog’s need to bark at passersby). From there, those interested can follow the accompanying link to the application site.
Usually, when the country isn’t in the grips of a pandemic, Rocket Dog Rescue will hold a weekend meet and greet days at various staging areas around the San Francisco Bay. It’s much more casual: People can wander in, meet some dogs, and if they want to, fill out an application. Now the rescue group will sort through the applications submitted online and pick out which one they consider the strongest. That applicant is then invited to do a one-on-one FaceTime or Zoom interview with the foster.
Like a first date, the virtual meeting allows both parties to determine if there are any dealbreakers, like if the dog needs a fenced yard and an active home, maybe it isn’t good with cats and kids, or they have separation anxiety that manifests in destructive behavior. If everyone is on board, adoption paperwork is sent over digitally and a (socially distant) in-person meet and greet is scheduled where the potential adopters can introduce their existing pets (if they have any) and decide if they still want to take the new dog home.
Considering Rocket Dog Rescue is funded entirely by donations and adoption fees, finding a way to continue to place dogs with their forever homes was paramount to keeping the rescue group afloat. The good thing is doing it the virtual way has proven successful. In a usual month, Rocket Dog Rescue was able to find homes for 30 dogs on average. Halfway through April, it has already done 50 (and many more are just waiting for their paperwork to be returned).