During the last several years, the shelter has been filled to capacity almost constantly, and we have not been able to adopt out pets quickly enough to keep pace with incoming animals. In 1997, the situation inspired our organization to start networking actively with other shelters to transfer our excess healthy, adoptable pets. Transferring our overflow animals reduces the number of days that we must operate our shelter with overcrowded conditions.
Since Humane Society policy does not currently allow us to adopt out wolf/dog mixes, in 2007 we had the unique opportunity of transferring King, a wolf/dog mix, to the WolfWood Refuge and Adoption Center, a state licensed non-profit refuge for wolves and wolf/dogs. The dedicated people at WolfWood understand the wolf/dog mixes and have made their life endeavors of understanding, educating and finding permanent homes for these animals, who need very special homes and environments. Read about WolfWood/King's story.
Since Archuleta County, located in southwest Colorado, is isolated from large metropolitan areas, we must travel as far as 600 miles roundtrip in order to network with other suitable and like-minded organizations. Partnerships are chosen carefully. We network only with facilities that share our high standards of sterilizing and vaccinating all pets prior to placement and that offer follow-up counseling and support to the new pet owner. We exchange with these organizations copies of all pertinent forms (pre-adoption screening questionnaire, adoption contract, sterilization contract, etc) to ensure that the animal will have all standard health requirements met and that it will be temperament tested and evaluated to ensure the most successful placement. Currently, partnerships have been formed with over a half a dozen new adoption partners in Colorado and New Mexico.
The success rate for transferred animals (measured in adoptions) has been in the high 90's percentile. Many of these animals were long-term residents of our facility, yet were adopted quickly once transferred to a metropolitan area that afforded more exposure and a greater number of potential adopters. The average stay for a dog at the Humane Society of Pagosa Springs is 21 days, while transferred animals are typically adopted after only 7 days.
In addition to the transfer of pets, networking with adoption partners has given us access to experts in the animal welfare field who act as mentors and coaches as we continue to expand and grow. Networking provides opportunities for sharing advice, support and mutual assistance. We have been able to strategize with other shelters to exchange pets that might do better in our respective communities. For example, Manx cats were in demand in Buena Vista, Colorado, at the same time that they were languishing in our facility. We performed a “cat exchange” with Buena Vista, and both sets of cats were quickly adopted from their new locations. In addition, we were able to provide Buena Vista with information on working with and placing feral cats. As a result, they no longer euthanize feral cats. In the event of a catastrophe, the network of organizations affords us over a dozen partners that we can call for assistance. Working with our adoption partners has saved the lives of hundreds of loving, deserving pets.