This is a fairly new study published again by the folks at the ASPCAPro. The topic of this one is Why do adopters choose the particular animal they choose at a shelter?
The study asked 1,491 adopters seven questions to determine what it was about a particular pet that led them to choose that particular pet for adoption.
The most important factor for cat adoptions was "behavior with people"(27%). For dogs, Appearance was most important -- also at 27%. I would suspect this difference would be primarily because of the more variance in appearance among dogs than cats. Interestingly, kittens were more likely to be chosen based on their appearance than adult cats and more so than because of their behavior. There was less difference between puppies and dogs.
Another question was asked: "What did this pet do when you first met him or her?" In otherwords, what type of first impression did the pet make.
For cats, 19.8% approached or greeted, 13.4% vocalized and 9.3% rubbed/leaned on.
For dogs, 23% approached or greeted, 14.8% licked and 9.4% jumped up/climbed on.
For Kittens, they were more likely to vocalize, and play, than approach or rub on. Again, the difference between dogs and puppies was not as major.
When listing what elements were important in determining adopt an animal the results were very interesting:
Kitten Adult Cat Puppy Adult Dog
Physical Appearance 63% 66% 77% 75%
Age 78% 64% 75% 66%
Behavior w/ People 69% 78% 74% 78%
Playfulness 67% 54% 64% 58%
Sex 44% 35% 45% 35%
Health 50% 51% 45% 49%
Energy Level 45% 44% 56% 56%
Behavior when by himself 26% 26% 34% 29%
Behavior toward other animals 19% 25% 27% 32%
Reco from staff or volunteer 13% 22% 16% 24%
Special adoption offer 2.2% 5.9% 2.9% 7%
Wanted to help animal 13% 21% 23% 24%
Adopters for cats and dogs note that more than 75% of the time the most important source of information about that animal came from a staff or volunteer, around 45% said from their cage card and 30-35% said from the internet. Information received was about health, behavior and prior life experiences (in that order).
- While adoptions specials may encourage adoption in general, they don't appear to have a huge influence on individual choice of animals.
- Dogs and cats approaching adopters was an important factor for adopters which suggests the importance of social greeting behavior in shelters. Teaching approach behaviors may help animals to become adopted.
-- Staff and volunteers are an extremely important source of information about animals -- way moreso than the internet -- proving the importance of customer service in shelters.
-- Interacting directly with a dog or cat is more important than seeing the pet behind a cage door. Providing areas and opportunities for adopters to spend time with pets outside of the kennel can be valuable.
-- Because appearance was so important in the adoption of puppies/kittens, shelter staff could benefit by providing potential adopters more emphasis on behaviors and personality to create a better match.
-- On a personal note, I was surprised at how low energy level scored in importance -- when it may very well be the most important factor in a good match for adopters -- particularly for dogs.
This is a very good and interesting study. You can read the entire thing for free here. Do the results mirror what you see at your shelter?