July 4, 2019

Open Adoption: Saving More Lives

We sent a dog home with his new family yesterday, obviously a very frequent occurrence at the Ottawa Humane Society. What wasn’t maybe as frequent was the long conversation we had with the prospective family about the dog’s tendency to destroy baseboards.

We’re having a lot more long conversations with prospective adopters these days, as part of the OHS’s open adoption philosophy. Our goal? Help them understand what a good match looks like for them, let them know—in as much detail as we possibly can—the needs of the animal(s) they’re interested in, and guide them to a successful match. Respect them, and educate them.

We’ve moved away from lengthy adoption applications in favour of longer discussions, and we’ve removed tough restrictions, the officious home visits and landlord checks, and replaced them with more resources and support to help adopters get off on the right foot.

Now, open adoption doesn’t mean anything goes. Our goal is to find a way to complete an adoption, where the adopter shares our primary values of pet ownership—a match well suited to both the family and the animal where he will be afforded appropriate veterinary care, where his social, behavioural and companionship needs will be met, and where he’ll have a livable environment with appropriate nutrition, shelter, exercise and care. If, in the process of conversation, we have strong concerns that an animal’s needs are not going to be met, we’ll have a discussion about it. We’ll talk about what a better match may look like and, ultimately, we will decline an adoption, where we need to. 

The reality is, we’re long past the days of screening for the “perfect” adopter. Open adoption has been a best practice in the humane movement for several years now. We know that most of those “imperfect” adopters are just going to acquire a pet elsewhere, where they won’t receive the same education—and most cases, nowhere near the adoption inclusions that come with animals adopted from the OHS (sterilization and microchipping topping that list). We also know that many of the long-held beliefs tied to finding that perfect home were actually just putting up barriers, which might have resulted in some animals not going into any home at all.

Open adoption saves lives. And that’s what we’re all about.

Sharon Miko
Director: Operations