After working with animal rescue organizations for more than a decade, Nancy Simpson knows adopting a pet is a big decision. Dogs and cats may be cute and cuddly, but there is a lot of responsibility that comes with welcoming one into the family.
“When you want a dog, you should do some research—what the dog is going to grow into, what kind of illnesses are subject to that dog—so that you don’t have to rehome it,” Simpson said. Rehoming is when a dog or cat is adopted, and then given up to find another home. “Rehoming a dog, even after just a few days, is so traumatic for the dogs,” she said.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, around 15 percent of adopted animals are returned to shelters to be rehomed. But one Oakland-based animal rescue organization is working to change this statistic.
Hopalong & Second Chance Animal Rescue takes dogs and cats from shelters with high rates of animal euthanasia and works to pair them with families.
High-maintenance animals, such as those that need extra resources and care, tend to be put on the kill list more quickly, volunteer manager Dani Clark said, noting kittens and puppies can be difficult for shelters to care for.
“The sooner you can get puppies out of shelters, the better,” said Simpson, a longtime volunteer with the Hopalong & Second Chance Animal Rescue dog program, noting that puppies are very susceptible to diseases in shelters. “They [shelters] will let us know when they have dogs that are ready to be euthanized, and we’ll go get them.”
Hopalong & Second Chance Animal Rescue has no age, breed or weight requirements for cats and dogs. Dogs are housed with the organization’s volunteer foster families while they wait to be adopted. Most are placed with families in a matter of weeks, although “older dogs do sit in foster homes longer,” Clark said.
Cats are usually held at a number of Bay Area adoption sites, including Basic Bird in Berkeley, Petco in Alameda, See Spot Run in Alameda and Pet Food Express in Oakland.
Hopalong & Second Chance Animal Rescue usually places around 1,200 cats, kittens, dogs and puppies in new homes every year, but in 2016 the organization placed a record 1,450 animals in homes.
Along with high adoption numbers, the rescue organization also maintains a very low return rate—less than one percent, Clark said.
“We really, really try to hone in and make sure that it’s a good match,” Simpson said.
Those interested in adopting a pet through the group must fill out an application, then complete a phone interview. Finally, the prospective adopters must meet the pet at an adoption location or event to make sure it’s a good fit.
The organization’s “diligent screening process” is the reason the return rate is very low, Clark said. “I love dogs, and I would love every dog to be in a home,” Simpson said. “We want them to be in the appropriate forever home.”