'Meet Your Match' at a Pet Shelter!
We live in the age of formulated matchmaking. Maybe you or someone you know has met their perfect partner after filling out a profile online – but did you know you can find our perfect pooch the same way?
Since October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, why not give it a try?
Matchmaking at Pet Shelters
Meet Your Match® is an innovative program designed by Emily Weiss, the vice president of shelter research and development for the ASPCA. You’ll fill out a personal profile similar to those used by dating services. While you probably won’t be asked to list your favorite movies or restaurants, you may have to identify your favorite dog park.
The program brings people and pets together using a color-coded program that evaluates both pets and potential pet owners according to energy levels, personality traits, and general needs. And it works! Many shelters have seen adoptions increase and returns decrease after implementing this common sense approach.
Meet Your Match asks potential adopters 19 personal questions in order to determine what kind of dog would best fit their lifestyle. Questions address whether they want a playful or laid back dog, how much time they have to spend with a dog, and what their living environment is like. There are no wrong answers; a color is assigned based on the person’s preferences.
Shelter staff evaluate the dogs for temperament, activity level, and socialization. After observing the dogs the staff assigns them a color as well.
Color Matching Helps Avoid Clashes
Pets and people are assigned one of 3 colors: green, orange, or purple. Green is for dogs that are physically active, orange for dogs that enjoy moderate activity and interaction, and purple for dogs that are really easy going. Within each color, there are sub “Canine-alities” that go into even more detail.
Color-coding avoids clashes by matching people to the most appropriate pet. For example, green dogs would fit well in a family of physically active people who take them to jog in the park. Orange dogs may adapt well to a busy household of children who come and go, playing with the dog as time allows. Purple dogs may be most at home where they can cuddle with their humans to watch movies.
Looking Beyond How a Pet Looks
We all have our favorites when it comes to pets and many people go to a shelter with a particular type of dog in mind. They may focus on how the dog looks rather than how they would fit in at home. Meet Your Match helps people expand their options by looking beyond a dog’s appearance.
Here’s why Meet Your Match or other similar profile programs are important. A city dweller who works 10 hour days may enter the shelter set on adopting a Labrador Retriever with a beautiful sleek coat, while overlooking the friendly, laid back Sheltie. They may not consider how much exercise the Lab needs or how confined it may feel in a small apartment. On the other hand, the family with 4 young children may enter the shelter looking for a cute, fluffy Maltese, when a more active Terrier would be a better family fit. Filling out a questionnaire surveys the situation at hand. This objective view helps prevents single-minded adoptions and opens the heart to other, more suitable options.
Avoiding Impulse Adoptions
Bringing a dog of any size into a family of any size is a big decision that affects the dog as much as the family. It’s best to avoid adopting a pet on impulse. Take time to discuss the prospect of becoming a dog family and do some research into several breeds. Then visit a reputable breeder, local shelter or humane organization. No matter where you look, never take home a dog on impulse just because they are cute. Take your time; you will be much happier with a dog that fits your lifestyle, and your dog will be much happier when you understand his needs.
Returning Mismatched Pets
It’s so much fun to take a dog home from a shelter, but it’s so sad to return them if things don’t work out. Thanks to programs like Meet Your Match, which encourage careful consideration of pet and pet owner, it’s easier to find the perfect dog….no refund, no exchange needed.