How Can I Find a Dog Online?
Oregon Humane Society’s Online Matching Service
Lewis stares at the camera with soulful eyes sure to melt hearts. Finding an online match shouldn’t be that difficult for such a catch.
But in this case, the heartthrob is a 28-pound, 5-month-old Australian Shepherd mix. The Oregon Humane Society (OHS), which developed an innovative online matching service, will make sure Lewis finds a new home based on more than the pup’s good looks. Stealing a page from online dating services, this nonprofit uses a database with extensive search criteria to improve the pet adoption experience.
“It’s a pretty unique feature,” says David Lytle, the OHS’s public affairs manager. “We are the only Humane Society I know of that has this find-a-match feature implemented so extensively.”
How Dog Matching Works at Oregon Humane Society
When a dog arrives at the OHS, a staff member photographs and weighs the pup and enters its information into a database. “Just as fast as our staff can enter this data, it’s posted live,” explains Lytle. “If a little Cocker Spaniel comes in the door at 10 a.m., usually by noon all of its data is up on the system.”
The database listing is updated every 10 minutes. Adopters can surf through listings that offer a photo, vital statistics and information about each dog’s personality. For instance, Lewis “is a social butterfly who really seems to enjoy meeting other people and dogs.” However, Lewis isn’t suited to a home with cats.
Successful Online Adoptions
When a dog is adopted, its status is changed on the database. People from far and wide seem to notice. “We get so many comments from around the world,” says Lytle. “People love the updates.”
Although fans from around the globe follow the service’s dogs and cats, almost all the adopters come from the Portland area. The questionnaire filled out by potential adopters not only asks about the breed or size of dog you want, but also about the suitable activity level and desired personality. The database searches for matches based on the criteria that would-be adopters provide.
If you see a pooch that you’d like, you can place a hold on the pup. If no matches are found, you can then request that the OHS send you an email notification when your doggie match is good to go. Since the service started last August, 3,000 people have signed up for email notification, says Lytle. The service is particularly valuable at OHS, where 10,000 pet adoptions are processed each year.
“We’re very happy with it,’’ Lytle says. “We’ve gotten good feedback from the community.”
Across the Country Other Shelters Have Also Taken the Dog Adoption Process Online.
Meet Your Match – ASPCA
The ASPCA’s Meet Your Match program evaluates animals in order to help owners bring home their ideal companion. “Meet Your Match isn’t just based on superficial qualities. We go deeper, including asking about the pet’s personality, your personality and other important factors,” says Senior Vice President Gail Buchwald of the ASPCA Adoption Center. Whatever the outcome, the resulting adoption is a win-win for the owner and the pet.
Iams Home 4 the Holidays
This program is one of several pet adoption drives taking place now. According to The Humane Society of the United States, of the 8 million pets that enter animal shelters and rescue groups every year, approximately 3 million of these healthy and treatable pets are euthanized due to lack of adoption. John Van Zante, spokesperson for the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Santa Fe, Calif., who helped start Home 4 the Holidays, says the data in 1998 for San Diego County alone where 40,000 dogs and cats were euthanized, led to the creation of Home 4 the Holidays.
“I contacted all 14 shelters in our region, asking that we be committed to putting our egos in check and to working together to solve the problem,” says Van Zante. “We kicked off the first Home for the Holidays in November 1999.” Since that initial year, millions of pets featured in the program (which runs from November to the beginning of January), have been adopted into loving homes.
Your local PetSmart store has a PetSmart Charities Adoption Center, which helps to match potential owners with a canine companion. “PetSmart charities partners with more than 2,000 animal welfare organizations, which use this space to showcase pets looking for a home,” says PetSmart Charities Communication Manager Michelle Thompson. “To date, PetSmart Charities has helped save the lives of more than 4 million pets through adoptions.” You can visit PetSmartCharities to find an adoption event near you.
Before You Begin Adopting a Dog Online
The ASPCA, PetFinder and other organizations work hard to ensure a thoughtful process takes place before any adoption. Such groups also try to help all pets, not just the trendy breeds or photogenic puppies. Betsy Banks Saul, the co-founder of PetFinder, points out that “overlooked pets often make great additions to a family, but many people don’t even realize they are discriminating when they begin looking to adopt.”
Tips for Finding Your Dream Dog
Even if you don’t live near Portland, the find-a-match program can help with your search for the right dog. Look at the types of questions OHS poses to determine what questions you should ask before adopting a pooch. Factors to consider include:
- Your activity level
- Whether you already have pets in your household
- The size of your home and any possible pet restrictions
- Whether you have children
Simply taking dog breeds into consideration isn’t sufficient, says Vicki Kirby of the Humane Society of Fairfax, Va. “It is amazing to me how many people want a dog they know nothing about,” she says. “They see a picture and fall in love with the look of the dog and have no idea what this type of dog is really like. The most important quality to look for is the dog’s personality and disposition. Even if they know the traits of the breed, a particular dog may not have those traits.”
The Humane Society of Fairfax uses a questionnaire that can be downloaded online then faxed or emailed. The society also sends email notifications when a potential match arrives. Of course, it’s important to meet your potential new pup in person, say both Lytle and Kirby. And it’s never a good idea to fall for a pretty face.
“We always tell people you need to know yourself, know what your own lifestyle is,” Lytle says. “You might be seduced by a young border collie that is the cutest thing you’ve ever seen, but if you have knee or hip problems, and your idea of exercise is just one walk around the block, you and the border collie are not going to be happy.” Instead, devote time and care when selecting a dog, and that will vastly improve your chances of living happily ever after.
For further advice on how to choose the right dog for you check out our article ‘How Do I Know What’s the Best Dog Breed for Me?’
The Online Dog Adoption Process
Depending on the program you choose, the process might go as follows:
- Visit the program’s website, search for pets available for adoption in your area and answer some initial questions.
- If you find a dog you are interested in adopting, make an appointment to visit the shelter, or a video call to meet them virtually.
- Sign in at the shelter, where you will be able to mention the sort of dog you hope to adopt (age, breed or a specific dog seen on the facility’s website).
- Answer questions asked by shelter personnel to determine your living situation (e.g., if you have other pets at home).
- Visit the dog, and also others that are in the shelter.
- Pay the adoption fee. The adoption fee may or may not include things such as spaying or neutering, full veterinary exams, necessary vaccines or microchipping.
The individual who will be caring for the dog must be present at the time of adoption. If you already own a dog, bring your pet to the shelter so it can meet the new addition to the family.
If you would like to read further on the ins and outs of dog adoption, take a look at our article ‘What is Pet Adoption and is Adopting an Older Dog a Good Idea?’
The rewards of adoption, Van Zante says, are priceless: A new dog truly is a treasured gift that will keep on giving.
Article written by Author: Kim Boatman, and The Dog Daily Expert