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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Looking For The Love Of Your Life? Try ASPCA's "Meet Your Match

Have you been seeking a stunning executive type? A love bug who'll cuddle all night? A constant companion or a free spirit?

Your local animal shelter may have just what you're looking for through the ASPCA's Meet Your Match™ (MYM) program.

No, MYM won't find your perfect mate, but it just may find your perfect friend. (And 9 of 10 responders pick their pets over their mates, when choosing their "best friends."Wink)

By profiling its adoptable dogs and cats according to their personality types, MYM-participating animal shelters will match your specific pet preferences to their shelter pets' profiles.

Here's how it works...

1. What Kind Of Dog Or Cat Would You Like To Adopt?

Suppose you would like to adopt a pet, and you find a local shelter that's participating in the MYM program. You fill out a short application, on-line or in person, about yourself and the kind of pet you are looking for. The survey asks about 20 easy questions to answer, like Have you had pets before? and Do you want your pet to be laid back or always rarin' to go?

2. Shelter Evaluates Pets For Adoptability (Non-Agressiveness)

Before you filled out the form or came to the pet adoption shelter, the staff have already screened pets to make sure they are adoptable, testing for signs of aggression with a tool called the Safety Assessment for Evaluating Rehoming or SAFER™.

3. Shelter Evalutes Pet Personalities

The adoptable dogs, puppies, and cats are then behavior-analyzed into three color groups and nine categories. The colors are purple, green, and orange; but the category names are different in each group.

The nine cat categories , for example, are Private Investigator, Secret Admirer, Love Bug (purple); The Executive, Sidekick, Personal Assistant (orange); and MVP, Party Animal, Leader of the Band (green). Each Feline-ality™ is explained. For example:

Private Investigator says she's "working undercover to keep an eye on you and your household. You may not even know you're under surveillance. I can vanish into thin air if anyone or anything interferes with my investigation. If you need a cat who knows how to stay out of trouble and will always keep your secrets, I just might take your case."

A Personal Assistant cat says, "You're working on the computer? Let me press the keys. Reading the paper? I'll hold the pages down for you. Watching TV? I'll just plop in your lap so you can pet me. I love an orderly household, don't you? I'll help you with all your chores, and I'll help you relax when we're done. You'll wonder how you ever managed without me."

Dog categories are named for distinctive Canine-ality™ traits. There's Couch Potato, Constant Companion, and Teacher's Pet (purple); Wallflower, Busy Bee, and Goofball (orange); and Life of the Party, Go-Getter, and Free Spirit. (Gotta' love'em.) Motivation also plays a big role in dog behavior.

Here's what the Go-Getter says: "Want to get more exercise? Action is my middle name. My “Let’s GO!” lifestyle will keep you motivated to get outside and move. I’ve got tons of energy; and just like the sun, I’m burning and working 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I’ll run for miles, chase a ball for hours, and still want to play at the end of the day." (Externally motivated)

And the Wallflower says "(I'm a) Shy, yet charming, canine searching for patient owner with relaxed lifestyle. Looking for gentle guidance to help me come out of my shell. Treat me sweet and kind and I’ll blossom." (Internally motivated)

Shelters house puppies too and they are described in a third way, and naturally MYM has a Puppy-ality™ chart too.

4. You Choose A Pet That Meets Your Qualifications

The aim, of course, is to get the qualified adopters hooked up with the most suitable adoptees, so prospective owners are assigned a predominant color, based on their responses to the questionnaire: purple, orange or green. If you fall into the color orange, you'll be encouraged to choose a cat, dog, or puppy that is also an orange, and you'll have three categories within that group to select from.

5. Shelter Provides Follow-Up Beyond Adoption

Beyond just the pet adoption, the MYM shelter follows up with adopting homes, assessing and attending to their support needs regarding their pets.

6. Shelter Tracks Results

Evaluations of each pet adoption experience are recorded and tracked. Although MYM was implemented less than a year ago, collected data to date show substantial reduction in the rate of pets returned to the shelters, pets abandoned, lost, or euthanized.

ASPCA now has several new support programs for shelter administrators and their homeless pets. Meet Your Match is certainly one that improves the long-term care outlook for adopted dogs and cats.

I'm curious about the results of human relationships, if matchmakers conducted follow up and provided support for the human relationships they fostered?

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