Home Life Starts at Adoption

Adoption day can be exciting, both for you and the pet you've chosen to come home with you. For advice on creating an optimal transition from shelter life to family life, we spoke with Steve Kaufman, Executive Director of the Animal Protective Association of Missouri (APAM) in St. Louis.

Now in its 90th year of bringing people and pets together, this shelter has made it an ongoing mission to make every adoption day as informative and enjoyable as possible. Explains Kaufman, "Our adoption counselors are friendly, outgoing and knowledgeable. Our goal is that everybody who adopts leaves smarter than when they came in, and more ready for life with their pet."

The idea is that by creating a foundation of comfort and trust backed by experience, pet owners will feel more supported and prepared. And at APAM, preparation is key.

On the day a pet goes home with their new owner, the adopting individual or family receives a CD (formerly a 44-page booklet) filled with commonly asked questions, as well as advice on training and care.

And what if a new adoptive family would rather talk to an expert than listen to the CD?

Says Kaufman, "We get calls from people with questions, and we are happy to answer. Our adoption counselors like to build rapport - we call it 'friendraising.' We are a community resource, and we want to build relationships with people and help them know their animals."

When new pet owners seek advice on classes, training or veterinary care, APAM responds with zip code lists of all the classes, trainers and vets in the St. Louis area. The staff at APAM also suggests that new pet owners ask their own circle of trusted friends, family and caregivers for recommendations.

APAM pet owners can expect a phone call from a shelter adoption counselor both two weeks and thirty days after adoption day. During those phone chats, adoption counselors will answer any new questions, and find out how both the pet and their owners are adjusting.

With information, care and support, the staff at APAM is carrying out a goal shared by many other shelters nationwide: to create a positive and successful adoption day that will be the start of a positive and successful lifelong relationship between human and pet.