Streamlining Adoption Framework
Adoption has always been considered a nice-to-have, good Samaritan process. This is absolutely true but as time goes on, as more people mainstream into this adoption process, as laws evolve, and more institutions get set up - the existing ad-hoc, trust based adoption process definitely needs some tweaking, restructuring and framework settings to ensure that we are not constantly responding to outlier cases, exceptions and escalations. There ARE several issues that seem to be coming up, needing intervention and NGO /SPCA time. What seems to be the need of the hour is to utilize the growing compassion capacity and the evolving laws to prevent and preempt issues that result in sadness, abuse, abandonment of adopted dogs.
Mainstream #AdoptDontShop. Without branding this, focusing on Indies and rescues , we are missing the point. With newer laws at our disposal as well as the high emotional and financial impact to government & taxpayers of abandoned dogs, it is absolutely practical & pragmatic to drive this agenda- but in a methodical, considered & overarching way. We should suggest or even insist that those considering buying or adopting a dog have a buddy to help them through the process and/or before they decide. We suggest potential adopters to join the squads or come to Dog Park so they get a real time sense of what a family dog means. Alternatively they should volunteer at the shelter or NGO to understand the other side of the picture. By doing this, we can work as system to give them brownie points that give them preferential adopters for prefer dogs.
Adoption forms. These are critical in capturing data of the adopters, their circumstance, future family and ability to sustain the dog. It also gives a sense of officialness in dealing with this so that the adopter is aware s/he is entering into a formal relationship which is not a casual act of kindness but an addition of a beloved family member. S/he should be more than open to support this. We should be able to aggregate this data as well
Legalities. Whether it is in the supply side where a dog is given up for adoption, the foster’s duty or an adopter taking on a new dog, the structuring of the adoption agreement must be watertight, compassionate, clear and preemptive to avoid any issues at all -without putting off or being overly intimidating.
AWBI/KAWB tie up - Working with authorities and adopters to formally & collaboratively build up a mutually acceptable adoption agreement and process is critical. If this is certified by both KAWB, district SPCAs is and hopefully even AWBI , the push and ‘officialness’ in impact will resolve a lot of problems. As of now the agreements are essentially NGO driven, and while being extremely thorough can also be individual and ad hoc, based on the NGOs own experience, constraints and objectives. Due to this even implementation tends to be ad hoc and the level of officials or government sanction can help a lot of people get away. But dogs are the ones who suffer this the most and they should not. Thereby it is important to have some govt certification on these forms so both sides are extremely clear.
Civic Agency Tie up. In Bangalore for example
it would be BBMP. Pet license is mandatory across civic urban bodies, and confirm ownerships, vaccination & metrics. We must insist on this. The pet license also includes micro chipping, details of owner, vets need to be dovetailed into the adoption process. This also helps ensure that abandonment , ad hoc readopting or any other abuse Is prevented from occurring and if it does come up, the license also can provide the data to address
Adoption Process & pinpricks. Due to the number and variety of cases of failed adoptions, abandonment, Pedigree dogs given up, the numbers are very large and therefore many individual kindhearted adopters manage this process with a lot of constraints of time, effort and money. While this is excellent, in the interest of the dogs there must be a certification and if possible and SPCA training for these adopters as well so that basic issues and checklists like compulsorily filling out the form , having parents join the hyper local canine Squad, giving all medical details of the dog, creating a strong follow up system and basically ensuring all the paperwork to guarantee successful sustainable adoption is done. What tends to to happen is due to the tremendous pressure on rescuer or foster, the gratitude that a kind adopter is actually taking on the dog , there is sometimes awkwardness or embarrassment that they are asking any questions or details from the potential adopter. so the rescuer can sound inadvertently tentative and iffy. Judgments are made on easy transfer and first impressions and those are not always correct. It works on the supply side too - for eg when a dog is given up for adoption. Recently a family signed off their Lab for adoption but despite good process and handover, the mother was not aware and wanted the dog back. The resultant drama left a lot of unhappy people, not the least the poor Lab .
Educate & Protect Adopter From the adopters mind also, some tend to be people who feel that they are doing a favour, saving a life or rescuing a dog and therefore are above any rules or any systems to protect the dogs that they so kindly are adding to their family. By ensuring that both the adopter and rescuer are conscious that this is a life they are handing over - therefore a little bit of structure, direction, sharing and detailing would only be an umbrella of protection for their adopted dog. In addition it also protects the adopter ! Many times, the adopter was unaware that some issues amount to cruelty for example tying for long length of time, mating dog without a breeder’s license etc. So they also are protected because they know what is expected of them as responsible pet parents.
Common Agency As a follow one to the above point, a certifying/ agency approach is needed. For eg, human adoptions are done only through a single agency in order to avoid exploitation, falling through the cracks or any deliberate or inadvertent abuse. It is suggested that we provide a similar certification to adopters to ensure that they are able to manage this and also maintain a good database of the parents so as to do an automatic regular follow-up and updates, including as required, house visits by those in the area. When a HAWO/AWO could also be a good point of contact, the specific nature of adoptions require a different level of orientation training and a compassionate, supportive understanding that helps all concerned. We can’t make the adopter feel like a criminal! I would suggest that a consortium of NGOs invest in a basic small training program for adopters & rescuers as well as a ready Database management system to ensure safety and well-being of all these helpless dogs. At the back end this could integrate with Pet Licensing rules as well as SPCA requirements .
The above points have been triggered by several cases of re-abandonments, change of mind situations, casual readopting, abuse as well as the realization that the structure provided by the New KAWB needs to be better leveraged to ensure PCA but also so that precious time, effort and cost is saved in resolving avoidable problems.
We can make a huge difference by just doing it right. Given focus on #adoptdontshop the evolving & growing pet community, it would be shortsighted if we DONT look at building a more holistic Umbrella with clear deliverables, certification, cross networks and instructional support that will make Karnataka and specifically Bangalore lead the way in Animal welfare and also be a model city for adoptions and cruelty prevention.