a woman holding her dog
Photo by John Moyer/The HSUS

Start by reaching out to your supervisor, your executive director, the municipal officials overseeing your agency, the members of your Board or whoever needs to be convinced to approve the change, to introduce them to the Adopters Welcome philosophy and highlight ways it can help your organization achieve its lifesaving mission. For example, you can draft a proposal explaining the origins and benefits of Adopters Welcome:

Adopters Welcome provides an approach to adoptions that embraces community members, encouraging them to adopt and helping them and their pets succeed. Based on recent research studies and data, Adopters Welcome offers a new perspective to help shelters and rescues feel confident eliminating unnecessary barriers to adoption and embracing new, untapped segments of their community to save more animals' lives. The Adopters Welcome program has been endorsed and /or recommended by virtually every national animal welfare organization, including NACA, ASPCA, Maddie’s Fund and the Million Cat Challenge. By reconsidering outdated adoption policies and approaches and embracing a new, welcoming approach to adoptions, Adopters Welcome will help us better fulfill our lifesaving mission.

But remember, while facts are important, they are never as effective at changing the hearts and minds as stories that help illustrate why you believe it’s so important to change. Think of a recent situation that’s personal to you and your organization that could have had a different outcome had the Adopters Welcome approach been in place. Did you recently deny an adoption because you felt the person couldn’t handle a large, energetic dog, only to run across them taking agility classes with the dog they bought at a pet store? Did you receive a holiday card from a woman wanting to share pictures with her beloved kitty whom she adopted only because you bent the rules against adopting to anyone without veterinary references? Or did you decline taking in another happy, healthy dog this week that could have potentially been fostered and adopted by your group if you were actively reaching every segment of your community? Tell stories and use them to make your case. A personal story that connects with your audience will be the most effective tool you have to convince them to consider the change.

Last but not least, use the Adopters Welcome tools to provide clarity and inspiration. Ask that you be allowed to show the Adopters Welcome introductory webinar, and give each decision maker a copy of the manual. Let them feel the inspiration that you felt, first hand.

Ideally, they will be as enthusiastic to embrace the change as you are and, if so, head over to the Adopters Welcome DIY and start working! But if they are still skeptical, don’t give up – use the Adopters Welcome FAQs to answer their questions. Reach out to another local organization using the Adopters Welcome approach and ask them to provide a testimonial and support. Suggest that you be allowed to try Adopters Welcome as a pilot for a limited period of time to show that it can be successful.