Thursday, August 19, 2010

How not to do a home-visit!

Ouch! (I should say at once that the facebook page discussed in the linked article does NOT belong to any RSPCA facility in Britain).

We do ask potential adopters for a letter from their landlord confirming that it's OK for them to have pets, but I hope we would go about it a little more tactfully than that and this is where training is key.

The Librarian has some very relevant wise words about why the staff and volunteers of any organisation should beware the temptation to bad-mouth their customers on social media. Animal rescue groups are no exception to this rule; animal adopters are our support base and we need to remember this even when we most feel: "the more I see of human beings, the more I like dogs."

Everyone who adopts an animal from our branch normally has a pre-adoption visit to check that their facilities are suitable for the pet they want and to try to ensure any snags are dealt with before they cause problems. (For example our home-visitors will give advice on whether the adopters' garden fence is able to contain the dog they've reserved.)

It's important that home-visitors don't get the idea that their job is to catch out people who are going to be cruel to animals; it can cause enormous difficulties if they take it upon themselves to do subsequent un-announced visits or otherwise give adopters the impression that they are being treated as suspects. Follow-up post-adoption visits should always be by pre-arrangement with the adopter — realistically what are they going to cover up as a result of having a few days notice?

The vast majority of people who come forward to adopt do it because they love animals and want to help and it does animal welfare no favours if we insult or patronise them because that means they'll be less likely to help us with other things, like fundraising, in the future. Some of them do need to be encouraged to accept that standards of pet care have moved on since they were children (we wouldn't home a single rabbit to live alone in a hutch, for example), and some need a gentle steer towards animals that are suitable for their circumstances (for example a large dog in a flat with no lift is going to be a big problem when he gets elderly and finds stairs difficult).

Home visitors are essentially a point of contact between the adopter and the branch, and post-homing visits should be an opportunity to solve any problems and ensure the placement is a success, not a threat that the animal will be taken away.

In reality our biggest problem is not abusive adopters, but lonely, needy ones who would ideally like to have their home visitor popping back every weekend to check the pet is OK and help with flea treatments, nail trimming etc.

We always need more volunteers to do home-visits, as it's important that the visit is done as soon as possible after an adopter has expressed interest. If you might be interested in training for this, please email

No comments:

Post a Comment