Interesting story about how the dog shelters try to make sure that once an animal has been adopted it stays adopted.
In an effort to reduce animal returns, municipal and private shelters tinker with their systems. Harris County, for example, used to give a training DVD to families after an adoption was complete. Now, the DVD goes home before the pet. The agency also is developing a post-adoption survey aimed at heading off problems with animals and their new owners.
Shelter staffs also use the information accompanying a returned animal to help with subsequent efforts. In some cases, they are able to give dogs behavior training to address obedience issues. The local Humane Society once sent a deaf dog for training in hand signals after it was returned four times, none of the adoptions lasting longer than a couple of weeks. The dog has now been with a family for nearly three years.
The Houston SPCA, which had 536 animals returned from March 2006 to March of this year, started a program last summer called Forever Friends to determine behavioral characteristics of older dogs.
The five-part assessment measures the dog's level of interest in play, how it reacts to someone walking into a room, or how hard it will work for a treat.
It also scores a dog on how it behaves when it's alone, with staffers watching the animal on a video monitor. Does it jump on the furniture? Does it chew on toys? Or does it wait patiently at the door?
Dogs are placed in color-coded categories for high (yellow), average (green) or low maintenance (blue). The personality color is matched with a description -- bed bug, comedian, party animal -- that is placed on the dog's cage.