Steps To Success (For Stores)
“Keys”… provides the architecture for structuring BridgingThe Gap
“Steps”… are the brick and mortar needed to build
While researching the creation of our puppy area, we began formulating this protocol in 2001. One of the key ingredients was to establish a procedure that began the moment new arrivals entered our store, continuing throughout their stay, and ending approximately one to three weeks after being adopted. Procedures and guidelines were first initiated on June 25, 2002, but over the next two years they were in a state of metamorphosis. All along the way, each and every piece of paperwork was reviewed and approved by several veterinarians.
This code of behavior, if you will, was the nucleus of our success in the “Free Range Puppies" area. Adapting it to fit the rescue’s needs only required some minor tweaking.
Your Store and Rescue Adoption Agreement should list most of these guidelines:
Once the store and rescue group come to an understanding, it’s suggested that the rescue group be responsible for the following: Make contact and arrangements for the specific orphans to be examined by a predetermined veterinarian who will complete an exam and provide all necessary vaccinations, spaying/neutering, treatment diagnosis and micro-chipping.
Rescue Observation Period 3-5 Days
If the orphan does not require any further stay at the hospital, they are housed and monitored at the rescue (or foster home) for 3-5 days. The purpose for staying at the rescue for this period of time is as follows:
Transporting of the orphan to the store - include:
Scheduling the orphans to arrive no later than mid-afternoon will enable enough “settling in” and observation time to ensure a peaceful first night.
Store Observation Period 5 to 7 Days
Between the rescue and the store, the total duration that an orphan should be observed is 10 -12 days. This is time enough for the most noted health issues -- parvovirus and kennel cough -- to present themselves and to begin treatment.
Adoption Headquarters Set-Up
Space allocation for the orphans and design of individual stores will dictate the appearance of the area. However, there are some guidelines to bear in mind:
Consider housing your guests in an area that is not near the entrance. Each time a customer enters, it could get a bit noisy and generate a jam. From a merchandising standpoint, creating traffic deeper into your store to view the new kids will increase your sales on products.
‘People Only’ Area
There will be those customers who feel it is cute to have their dog meet the guests. However, a separate bonding area should be established between only the customer and orphan. Barking and agitation will be greatly reduced. Now is the time when tact and information will be your best friend.
Use a folding table with tablecloth. Include on the table:
o The day the orphan is placed, some photos are taken with the new family
o The bio is removed from the available notebook and placed side by side with the new family photo (it’s a very nice presentation).
o It is recommended that bios and photos be stored in sheet protectors
These are small stations close to the housing area to store:
Pet Mess Cleaner
Small Covered Trash Can
Following Store Arrival
See Helpful Documents for great information regarding behavioral issues and socialization tips. Brian Lee, our canine counselor, offered an excellent technique for improving social skills with the use of a few exercise pens. Use the pens to create an outer and inner circle. Place one guest in each area and observe. This setup permits the two to get acquainted in a non-invasive manner.
Once the obligatory sniffing and alpha demonstration is complete, introduce a toy for each dog; eventually, they’ll be lying down side by side playing with them. At this point toys can be removed, along with the inner playpen. The adjustment period between the two will usually go very smoothly.
One of the most common questions asked is how to introduce the new family member to the existing one. See First Pet Psychology, provided by Warren Eckstein. This technique helped thousands of our customers, especially those with orphans.
The necessity for an established routine will greatly improve the orphan’s adjustment to their new environment. Staff and volunteers need to understand the importance of routine for all canines, and especially orphans.
Meet and Greets
In addition to weekly new arrivals being transported to the store by the rescue group, we established weekends as ‘meet and greets’. Members of the rescue organization would be available on both days to help create new families and perform home visitations (home visits may not be a mandatory issue for you. However, while creating this model, we felt it necessary to include this requirement in order to ensure our best rate for success).
The prospective adoptee would be delivered to their new home along with the New Parent Packet and supplies. The rescue group would perform the house inspection, and remain there long enough for the two and four-legged members of the family to get acquainted. The downside to this process is that neither the prospective new family nor the rescue group knows whether the orphan will be returning to the store or staying. What if there were some major repairs needed in order for the new home to be a safe environment, or there was a potential problem between the current pet(s)?
These are genuine concerns, but the placement rate with Ken-Mar Rescue was so high that it did not make sense to perform visitations or introductions beforehand. This was not because their requirements were lax, but rather that their interview process and knowledge about what they were doing were superb. The only orphans that returned from a visitation were those whose new adoptive families were not truthful, either regarding the condition of housing arrangements, or temperament of their existing dog(s).
New families who were a bit hesitant about a solid match tended to hold back from purchasing non-essentials. To facilitate them, our New Parent Package included a 30-day discount card (for orphans only), entitling them to 20% off supplies, and 10% off food.
This aspect is as essential as placement (see Follow-Up form). Our staff made the calls even though the rescue team had offered. Since our staff had been trained on working with puppies, they knew what questions to ask and how to listen to answers. Sometimes it is just the phrasing of what a new family says or leaves out that can make a huge difference with getting ahead of potential problems.
These calls not only averted possible health issues, but also reassured the new family that they were not alone. We were available and wanted to be of assistance. Rather than cutting the umbilical cord and ending the relationship as merely the place they got their rescue, we fortified a bond by becoming the source of their new-found love.
“There is no greater joy than enhancing the human/pet bond. Bridging the Gap will facilitate this precious gift to millions who might not have had the opportunity to save a life and bless their own” … Paula and Lewis