Defining your goals
Getting organizations involved Setting a budget
Selecting a location
Building the core team
Promoting the event
Rules and regulations
Getting the dogs ready
Planning for the event
Running the event
Indoor Schematics and Flow Sheet
Outdoor Schematics and Flow Sheet
Area Coordinator Job Descriptions
Adoptathon Event Totals
New Dog Tips
One of the goals of this website is to help dogs and cats find loving homes. And one of the ways to do this is by passing on what we have learned about organizing large scale adoptathons. Every year hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats are saved by thousands of no kill and slow kill shelters and rescue groups across the United States. All of these shelters face a common problem – how to find good homes for all of the homeless dogs and cats they have. While there is a growing awareness of the availability of rescue dogs and cats, and a growing support for adopting these animals, shelters still face challenges: many smaller shelters tend to be in out of the way places, typically far from residential areas with suitable homes; because of budget constraints the shelters tend to have limited hours of operation; and the shelters usually lack the budget and expertise to market themselves and the available animals. The animal shelters in St. Louis face this same challenge - they are bursting at the seams with dogs and cats.
The first large scale adoption event was organized in 2000 for the Granite City APA when 80+ dogs and cats were abandoned at the small shelter. It was the "Pick a Pooch" adoptathon held at Creve Couer Park. Every dog had their own volunteer assigned to them so there were no dogs in cages. It was a very successful event and most all of the dogs got a forever home that day. After that, 2 more events were held for the 3 no-kill shelters in the St. Louis Metro area, Granite City APA, St. Charles Humane Society and Open Door Animal Sanctuary. From there, a "Special Needs" event was organized at Creve Couer Park specifically for dogs who needed special homes; allergic to cats, needed to be an only dog, seniors, diabetics, etc. Most of the pooches found homes, too.
Beginning in 2001, we began organizing the Adopt a Stray events, the largest adoptathons in the USA at that time. From A-Z, covering every base possible, 9 events were held during the course of 7 years, successfully placing thousands of deserving dogs and cats, coming from as many as 28 different shelters and rescue groups, into loving homes. The 2-day events offered a unique approach. These annual mega-adoptathons were held in highly populated, community centers with a much larger supply of suitable homes nearby. These events generated a significant amount of publicity and attendance and presented a sense of urgency on the part of potential adopters. And the adoptathons were able to tap into the awareness and volunteer base of all of the participating shelters, creating a much larger volunteer base and generating significant word of mouth interest and cooperation in the rescue community.
Nothing was left out. There was a pre-screening area that folks had to go through to even enter. Shelters did their own screening procedures, home visits were done the same day, owned dog sitter area was available (no pets other than the homeless pets were permitted in the building), dog meet n greets were arranged on sight in a quiet designated area, new homes had a mandatory vet and behavior training session on site, and an ID tag was made at the event to place on the new dogs tag prior to them leaving the event with their new families.
Imagine all of the rescue groups, shelters, and animal control facilities working together for one common goal; to find homes for the homeless.
A portion of this website will eventually be to pass on the knowledge, organizational tools, forms, pitfalls, etc., to help others host adoptathons of their own. Our hope is that people can take this knowledge as a starting point for organizing and hosting regular large scale adoptathons in their areas. Regular adoptathons have a chance to help place hundreds and even thousands of dogs and cats in good homes and relieve some of the overcrowding that challenge many shelters.