Thursday, December 22, 2005

Adoptions

The volunteer who works on the adoption board said to me the other day that while most fosters and adopters are good, there are a few who don't respond to the others emails. Of course, it is understood that people are working and don't respond every day, which the volunteers do take pains to point out to people who want to adopt.

However if weeks go by and complaints start coming in because the foster still has not responded, it does cause problems. Some adopters for example are fixated on certain kittens or cats and will not consider adopting others while that cat is still up for adoption. This means if a popular kitten is on the board, other cats may not have a chance till that cat is adopted out. In the meantime, seven or eight potential adopters are all waiting for one foster who will not respond.

For another, people will think the board doesn't work and deprive other kittens of a chance of getting adopted. One potential adopter accused the volunteer of posting non-existent kittens that were cute to 'lure' people to the board.

Recently a woman posted some cats on the board, saying she would send them to be killed if they weren't taken and the responses came flooding in. She didn't reply and the potential adopters complained. The adoption team person called her. When the foster saw the emails, she said she couldn't cope with all the people who wanted the cats now. You just can't please everyone.

10 Comments:

Anonymous bc said...

I have several cats and the occasional kitten for adoption, some have been waiting for a home for close to a year now.

Despite posting on CWS, for most of them, I can count the responses for each on one hand, and for the oldest girl, a sweet 8yr old tuxedo, not one query at all! Religiously checking my email every morning has turned from hopeful anticipation to just jaded duty. You cannot believe the "WHOOP!" when i get the rare response. But too often the potential adopter promise to get back with a suitable appointment time and then POOF!!!

Cold feet? OR just testing water? I wouldn't mind it so much if they had the courtesy to at least say "I'm not interested in your cat anymore." This is especially after presenting themselves as mature, responsible, seriously sincere people who really want to adopt. But not even a grunt.

Granted, my motley crew consist of the mature, the older catizens, and the not so photogenic moggies, but still it is demoralising to have to keep telling them to be patient for the right person to come along. It is worse when I have to tell them their potential new parents aren't turning up after all.

Reading this blog entry makes me wonder about several things:
- the platitude "dying of thirst in the midst of plenty" slams into the brain really hard on first reading. Fosters who don't respond and then presumably can't handle it, potential adopters who are obssessed with the one kitten (Gollum somewhere in the bloodline?) . Is a reality check missing somewhere in the process for these people?
- looks are not everything, why can't potential adopters be a bit more open-minded about other cats? If a particular cat is not available or the foster does not respond for a few weeks, for heaven's sake, move on and check out another kitty already. There are always other cats, who may not look as photogenic as their object of obssession, but may be as much of a match for them, if not better. The key is to pay a visit and see if there is rapport. Who knows, they may go home with a cat othe rthan their intended and be deliriously happy for it.
- it would be great if the lucky fosters who always get responses could give the rest of us a hand: direct potential adopters to other cats or back to CWS to consider other cats, it's not much to write in an additional line or two to the effect right when telling potential adopters the object of their desire is no longer available right?
- It is unbelievable that the lady who threatened to put her cats down got a flood of responses. Does it really have to take emotional blackmail to get a response? I don't want to stoop to that, but sometimes, desperation drives us to strange tendencies. Hmmm...

Well! That's a rant for you. I do have the odd success story here and there, but I am just in a depressed state of mind now.

Anyway, it's back to dutifully checking my mailbox and putting on a hopeful face for my brood.

22/12/05 11:39 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Sorry BC - and it's people like you that I also feel very badly about because it does in a way deprive others of adopting their cats out. Some people do like one particular cat - and they will wait and wait, till they cannot get that cat. Some adopt other cats, others wait till the next cat comes along that catches their eyes.

22/12/05 11:53 AM  
Anonymous bc said...

Dear Dawn,
Don't apologise, it's not your fault.

I asked for it after all. But it's the cats, they didn't ask to be outside and to be in a situation where they're waiting for a home =P All members of my motley crew are former house cats, just that they're thrown out at different ages, and from what I can see, it's unfathomable why the ones who are healthy got the boot in the first place!

I really feel sad for them - they deserve to have homes again, and some are really the starved-for-affection-i-love-you-please-love-me sweeties.

22/12/05 1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi! I am a cat lover who frequents the adpotion board. My suggestion would be maybe put up more information or pictures for a particular cat if possible. i know this will be more work. But, I feel that some photos don't do the cat justice and as a result, fewer people who might like the cat do not go for it......

As for people who do not reply to emails. Maybe make it a rule that if e.g. 3 potential adopters have reported non-reply, the CWS can try emailing the person to confirm. If they still do not reply, than the posting will be removed.

I know.....more work.

22/12/05 1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

like with dawn's earlier experience with the town council, this may partly have to do with a lot of people not understanding how to use email. it is a very faulty medium of communication and is rife with potential for miscommunication and misunderstanding - it is easier to email than to call or meet, but it is also easier to misunderstand or miscommunicate, or to be frustrated by non-responsiveness. Why not exchange phone numbers after the first email/board contact and then call the other party to follow up if there is no email response?

BTW, so sad to hear that many of these are house cats who were thrown out - that is amazingly irresponsible, and if ever there were a crime for which some caning would be justifiable, this might be it.

22/12/05 1:21 PM  
Anonymous bc said...

Of course due digilence is done:
- photos that at least feature a good face shot or some characteristic - we have used up a lot of film on mugshots
- Stories thought up to represent the cat and feature special characteristics/requirements
- Posters made and posted at vet clinics and circulated among friends too. (The contact tabs seem popular, they tend to get taken away - alas not even one response has resulted yet!)

When a potential adopter respond via email, the first order of business is provide my own contact numbers, and call them if their numbers are given. However, when the email looks like it's a "pray pray" impulse email, I respond by listing the usual questions and ask them to consider their answers and tell them "let's discuss", and I still provide my contact numbers nonetheless.

About emailing as a tool - I think that the level of English in SG makes it unlikely that miscomms and misuderstandings of gross magnitude are frequent - sure some do occur, but nothing that causes communications to cease. Part of the problem as i see it here, is the fosters/adopters who give only email addresses and then do not bother to check their mailboxes!

Another problem may be unfamilarity with the tool: the spam checks, security levels on some webmail services, like hotmail, when set to high, rejects any email from email addresses the user did not already put on an approve/accept list. And I believe this is a default setting. If you're writing to CWS to indicate interest in adopting, and you mailbox is set to reject emails from unauthorised addresses, don't blame the foster/CWS for ignoring your emails. Similarly for fosters.

Bottomline: if you don't know how to use email, don't use it! Or at least have the sense to provide your your offline contact details as well. No point being secretive, cat adoption is not illegal business! =P

22/12/05 1:46 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anonymous, it would take up more space if we used a few photos - as such we have to limit space so that we can ensure the maximum number of cats are up. The adoption team does however write to fosters and encourage them to take better photos sometimes if the photo isn't good. Most fosters will comply, some will refuse.

And yes, we do ban people for non-responsiveness if we have a few complaints. Unfortunately, it does seem to happen fairly often. we do know some people may take a bit of time because they're working (and some potential adopters can be very demanding too) but some do take ages and not reply.

Also, these potential adopters are complaning they have never been contacted at all - ie some fosters don't even contact them the first time, so they can't exchange phone numbers.

22/12/05 4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi! Dawn,

If you need more space for photos, you can use Webshot.com or Zorpia.com. These are great free sites. You can still place one photo on your main site and direct viewers to these photo sites for more of the cats. (I am being "selfish"....cos i like to feast my eyes on more cat photos too....haha).



About people working and not having time to check their email......if this is the case do you think they will have time for cats if they adopt one????? hmmmmm........

22/12/05 5:06 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Hi anonymous, sorry for not being clear - it's the people FOSTERING who don't have time to check their email. Then the adopters are basically waiting to see the cats.

Thanks for the suggestion. we'll look into it, but the board as you said takes quite a bit of work already. Webgal is doing a fantastic job of posting. Two weeks ago, she posted 52 cats in a week - and she's working full time too, so we're trying to keep it simple.

What some people do is to do up their own website or other photo service and direct people to other photos - we're more than happy to post those URLs.

22/12/05 5:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I volunteer at adoptions. Photos are sent in by the fosters. Some are blurred, the cat is a blob. I would ask for a better photo or source for a volunteer photographer to help with a better shot.
The descriptions are sent in by the fosters, I do advise changes. A few fosters wrote about what they did for the cat and how sick it was. It would not help to get the cat adopted. I would advise for a short description - age, gender, colour, temperament, toilet training, etc etc.
If genuine complaints of no-reply come in, I email fosters and ask if assistance is needed so as to prompt a response.
Another volunteer posts adoption postings within 1-2 days (recently the volunteer posted over 50 adoption postings in just one week) and all reported successful adoptions are usually updated the same day.
If there are more than 3 negative comments we would review the fosters or the adopters.
All suggestions to improve the adoption bulletin board are welcome.

22/12/05 5:36 PM  

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