Monday, May 31, 2010

Cornering the Market isn't as crass as it seems

I love living in a multicat household.   Whats not to love?  Setting aside how very dear each and every individual is to me, as a group the six of them are just pretty darned interesting to live with.  Its definitely well worth the occasional chewed speaker cord and broken ornament.
Admittedly, Morgan is the only one who was actually adopted from a rescue ( SHAID ).  Clive came here when his human .. who was my best friend's brother... passed away.  The other four found their way here because there is something on my mailbox only cats can read : )
Noone likes to think of themselves as ordinary or average, but that actually makes me quite typical of Canadian pet owners, at least according to a survey that was commissioned by the Canadian Veterinary Association in 2008. (Perrin, T. (2009). “The Business of Urban Animals Survey: The facts and statistics on companion animals in Canada,” Canadian Veterinary Journal, 50(1): 48–52.) 
The short version is that means that roughly 140,930 people in Nova Scotia will get a new pet in the next year; of those 29,595 will get a cat.
According those surveyed:
  • 17% adopted from a shelter
  • 24% got kittens or cats from friends and relatives
  • 16 % adopted strays
  • 14% went the "free to a good home" route
  • 11% were offspring
  • 9% were from pet stores
  • 5% came from breeders, and
  • 5% were from "other' sources
Seventeen percent of 29,595 = 5, 031 kittens and cats.  Hmmm.    Bear in mind that this survey didn't promise that 17 percent were Planning to adopt.  Rather that number reflects the percent that Have adopted.
Today, if 5,031 people went to Petfinder, Kijiji and the animal welfare websites for NS groups and shelters that don't use Petfinder (  The subject of how the society can hope to fulfil its no kill strategic plan when  only six of  its branches use the Free listing services provided by Petfinder  ... services I might add that are regularly visited by a "target market" ... is an interesting topic to discuss on another day. In like fashion, it would take an entire post to speculate on the reasons why the cape breton branch seldom lists any cats on petfinder, when a tiny little volunteer group like CAPS can make time to post 124 well written listings, eh? )
Noone ever wants to see Pet Adoption in this province become a business where the bottom line matters more than the value of life.  Yet, many of the business basics would serve rescue groups well:
  • there isn't a successful business that doesn't understand the value of advertising.   Nor would one find one willing to forgo the benefits of listing with a free service that has become a household name
  • customer relations are key .... any restaurant owner will tell you that Canadians seldom complain ...  if they aren't happy they simply don't come back.   The animal rescue world is particularly susceptible in this respect as long time staff and volunteers have seen so much that they generally relate better to the animals than the people.
  • customer convenience is very important.  People are more inclined to do the kind and/ or social responsible thing if it is easy for them to do so.  Lengthy application forms often deter wonderful prospective families from applying.  The new, simplified form that Metro is using is sufficient for starters.  After all, there will still be an interview, reference checks and a home visit, hmmm?
  • Follow up.  If one buys a car/ hot tub / wood stove, its almost a standard practice to receive newsletters and Christmas cards in the mail from the vendor.    For animal rescue, this practice could do double duty by engaging support and volunteer effort as well as future adoptions.
  • And last but not least .... customer support.   Most rescue groups and shelters are more than happy to provide post adoption advice and answer questions. Nor should the value of the standard "if you can't keep the pet we want him or her back" be underestimated.   This type of thing should be played for every bit that its worth, eh
What time is it?  Animal rescue groups and shelters have to remember that  'cornering the market' is the only way we will get to No Kill Nova Scotia.

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