Nathan Winograd in his book Redemption argues that it is possible to run true no kill animal shelters across the United States. The change from killing millions to true no kill requires a multifaceted shift in how animal rescue operates and away from shelters ‘reliant on killing” . One aspect is to implement legal requirements with respect to the running of shelters because change won’t come about voluntarily. He even wrote a proposed piece of legislation which he called the Companion Animal Protection Act. One of the stated highlights if this draft Act is that is requires shelters to provide offsite adoptions and that shelters and rescue groups “open to the public during hours that permit working people to adopt animals during non-working hours”.
The opening hours of any business serving the public is very important. Some businesses have a history of complacency towards customers – e.g. banks.
I have the utmost admiration for animal rescue organisations. You can’t but admire them. They save lives. And it must be difficult to find staff to work unsociable hours. However, it would seem to be a simple but very effective change in operation to shift opening hours to times that are highly convenient for the public. This would encourage adoptions of rescued animals.
A quick survey of opening times of four animal rescue organisations in New York State produced the following:
Animal Haven, New York
251 Centre Street
New York, NY 10013
(Corner of Broome Street)
Noon to 7:00pm, Monday-Friday
11am to 6pm, Weekends
Closed on Fourth of July, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Easter Sunday. They have a mobile adoption van too. This brings animals to the people and has proved successful.
North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY 11050
Hours: 10am – 9pm, 365 days a year
They have “Mobile Adoption Units”.
Bobbi & The Strays
11am – 5pm &
Sunday 12pm – 4pm
Monday thru Sunday,
11am – 7pm
Open adoption hours seven days a week from 10am until 4 pm. On Thursday and Friday we are open for adoptions until 7:30 PM
As a comparison I include the opening hours of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, London. This is probably the most famous animal rescue centre in the UK and known worldwide. Their opening times for rehoming are: Monday to Friday from 1.00pm to 4.00pm and 10.30am to 4.00pm on weekends and Bank Holidays.
What conclusions can I draw? Battersea might be successful but their opening times are not customer friendly. North Shore Animal League America is the most enlightened having adopted Mr Winograd’s proposals as to access to the public with both a mobile adoption center that is successful and staying open late (Animal Haven also have a mobile unit). Mobile units are an extension of convenient opening hours creating flexibility in meeting the animals. They say that they are “World’s Largest No-Kill Animal Rescue and Adoption Organization”. It seems that opening ’til late is a matter of attitude because it can be done.
I don’t know how important late opening and opening 365, 24/7 is. It would be nice to do a study on that; to see create a spreadsheet showing the times throughout the day and week, at North Shore Animal League America, when adoptions were made.
Which brings me to the last point. How commonplace is it for shelters to work together? Has anyone contacted North Shore Animal League America to ask them about late opening hours and how effective it is? Does it actually produce results and save lives? It would be nice to know.
Note: a lot of animal rescue adoptions take place through foster homes, which I presume means making particular arrangements with the fosterer to visit. I would like to know whether that presents a barrier to adoptions.
Associated: Animal Rescue USA Map.