What happens when landlord checks are eliminated? Dr. Emily Weiss outlines 5 potential outcomes.
Over the holidays I met my grand-nephew. He is big, fluffy and well-loved, and his name is Randy. My niece, Melody, had been looking to add a dog to her life for a while. She was finishing college and striking out into full-time employment, and was determined to finally get a dog.
Melody’s apartment complex had allowed dogs of any size, but just before she was ready for a new family member, the complex changed their policy. While they would allow existing dogs to stay, no new dogs were permitted to live in the complex. So Melody planned to sneak her new dog in.
Now, before you judge, I ask for you to think back to your past housing situations and your friends’ and colleagues’ situations, to find the many occasions where we had pets in rental housing that did not allow them. If you have followed my blog posts, you are familiar with my story. My Benny entered my pet-restricted house and stayed with me as we both grew up and older together.
Melody tried to adopt from a shelter. She researched to identify one that might take a chance on her and allow her to adopt without a landlord check, but could not find one in her area. She found Randy on Craigslist—he needed a home and he got a pretty rockin’ one. And shelters lost another opportunity.
About 14 years ago, a group of leaders in the field came together to discuss the adoption process. Known as Adoption Forum II, the group outlined the shift from policy-based adoption to conversation-based adoption—including trusting adopters living in rental properties to make good decisions regarding adding a pet. Since that time, many, many organizations have eliminated landlord checks. Instead of this strict policy, adopters are reminded that if they live in rental housing there may be restrictions regarding type and size, or that pets may not be allowed to live there at all.
When the checks are eliminated, several things happen:
- The adoption process is shorter as counselors are not tied up trying to reach landlords.
- The adoption process is more respectful because the adopter is being trusted to make the best decision for themselves and their circumstances.
- Returns do not increase in any significant manner. Just as you and I were able to find ways to keep our pets when living in pet-restrictive housing, our adopters can, too. Further, as you remind potential adopters that there may be restrictions, some folks may decide on their own to not proceed.
- Adoptions can increase, as potential adopters who may have been previously turned away can now adopt.
- A life is saved, and a friend of the shelter is made.
Melody did want to obtain her pet from a shelter. And, like most people, once she decided to bring a pet into her life, being deterred from adopting did not stop her from obtaining a pet. When we deny a potential adopter at the shelter, they very likely still obtain a pet somehow. That should be all that is needed to help allow the Melodys out there to adopt from us. We now become the friend, the resource, the support—and potentially the beneficiary of and for—Melody’s passion.
Emily Weiss, PhD, CAAB
ASPCA Vice President, Research & Development
Dr. Emily Weiss’ work at the ASPCA involves developing programs and processes that focus on impact on animal welfare. In her previous work as a behaviorist, she developed training programs to improve husbandry and decrease stress for many zoo animals. She has also developed assessment tools for shelter animals, including the SAFER assessment and Meet Your Match Canine-ality, Puppy-ality and Feline-ality. Dr. Weiss is co-editor of the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, and has published and lectured extensively in the field of applied animal behavior.
What’s Your Sign?
Heather Mohan-Gibbons shares some tips for signage that creates an inviting space and results in the behavior change you’re seeking.
Rising From the Pit
Dr. Emily Weiss takes her annual dig into shelter data and shares the top 5 breeds with the greatest intake and outcome rates.
Decoding Spay/Neuter Research, Part 2
Dr. Spain shares 3 questions to ask if you see a new study claiming to find health risks or benefits of neutering in dogs