This past summer of 2023, OC Animal Care successfully launched several Pilot Program initiatives. The programs ran for a four-month period, from July 19 to November 19. While the Tustin Hangar Fire incident halted activities just two-weeks shy of the November 19 end date, the shelter feels confident that enough data was tracked from July 19 to November 7, the day of the fire, to conclude the pilot programs.
Based on information and data learned from the recent pilot programs, coupled with community interest and feedback, OC Animal Care will be adjusting its operational model. Beginning January 17, 2024, OC Animal Care will be offering Daily Adoption Options. The shelter will be open daily for Adoption Visits from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. and open for Viewing Hours from 2 – 5 p.m.
We’re excited to promote a balance between smart, effective programming that has proven to increase permanent placement of our pets, with that of community interest in visiting the animals in our care, and we look forward to seeing you soon at OC Animal Care no matter which daily adoption option you choose.
What are Adoption Visits?
Dogs – Adoption Visits for dogs include one-on-one meet-and-greet visits with the specific pet(s) you are interested in adopting. Visitors may spend time with multiple dogs and each time slot includes up to 30 minutes of dedicated time with an Animal Care Team Member.
Cats, Rabbits, and Others – Adoption Visits for cats, rabbits, and other animals are not based on a particular pet, but rather include staff assisted walk-throughs of pets who are available and ready-to-go-home the same day. If the visitor has a specific pet in mind, then staff will prioritize the visiting area based on that pet’s location.
What are Viewing Hours?
Dogs – During Viewing Hours, the community is invited to the shelter to walk unescorted through the external side of the dog kennels of Buildings 2, 3, and 4, or rather the kennel buildings on the left side of the promenade. Dogs featured in these areas are available for adoption and ready-to-go-home the same day. They have no major behavior or medical concerns, have completed all legal hold times, have been spayed or neutered, microchipped, received a general health exam, vaccinated, and received general anti-parasitic treatment as needed. To assist visitors in getting to know the animals as they walk through, each dog will have a kennel card that includes their name, age, sex, assigned breed, and mini bio.
Cats – During Viewing Hours, the community is invited to the shelter to walk through our large viewing Cat Rooms, 6 and 7. Cats featured in these areas are available for adoption and ready-to-go-home the same day. They have no major behavior or medical concerns, have completed all legal hold times, have been spayed or neutered, microchipped, received a general health exam, vaccinated, and received general anti-parasitic treatment as needed. To assist visitors in getting to know the animals as they walk through, each cat will have a kennel card that includes their name, age, sex, assigned breed, and mini bio.
What if I am walking through the kennels and see a dog or cat I want to adopt?
Great! We aren’t surprised because we have a lot of amazing animals at the shelter. Please make a note of the animal’s name and Animal ID number and check in at the front desk. The next step will be a meet-and-greet with the pet(s) you are interested in adopting.
What is a meet-and-greet and why do I have to have one?
A meet-and-greet at OC Animal Care is dedicated one-on-one time with you, your family, and the individual animal you are interested in adopting. Meet-and-greets are facilitated by an OC Animal Care Team Member. For dogs, these meet-and-greets will take place in a play yard where you can spend time getting acquainted with your new potential furry friend. For cats, these meet-and-greets often take place kennel-side to allow the cat time to get to know you before you pick them up.
Animals can react differently to new people. Some are better with women while others may be better with men. Some are shy or even nervous around children. They also have varying energy levels, play styles, and personalities. It’s important to make a good match, not just for you, but for the animal in our care. Meet-and-greets give everyone, including the animal, a chance to get to know each other and bond.
In addition, this is your dedicated time to ask our team member any questions you may have. Keep in mind, many of our pets come to us as strays, so we don’t always have a lot of background information. However, staff are able to share with you everything we’ve learned about the pet while they have been in our care.
Do I have to fill out a lengthy application?
No, an adoption application is not required. Our process is based off individual meet-and-greets where we help you determine if you and your family are a good match with the pet you are interested in adopting. If it isn’t a match made in heaven, no worries. We have many amazing animals. Staff can help recommend some of our shelter residents who may be a good fit based on your lifestyle, we can move to the next animal already on your list, or you can continue to walk through during Visiting Hours to view more adoptable pets.
You close at 5 p.m., why is the last meet-and-greet at 4:30 p.m.?
Great question. We know that it takes time for you and your family to visit with a potential pet to see if they are the right match. It also takes time for staff to process an adoption. We start our final meet-and-greets of the day at 4:30 p.m. to provide enough time for visiting and paperwork to be completed before we close at 5 p.m.
Don’t worry, you are able to walk through the kennels up until 5 p.m. Just be sure to check-in at the front desk before 5 p.m. if you want to set up a meet-and-greet with a particular pet for the next day.
What about the dogs in Buildings 1, 5, and 6?
OC Animal Care is responsible for providing care to dogs from a variety of situations, many of which are not available for public adoption including dogs who are part of an investigation or court hold, legal retention holds (stray or owner surrender wait times dictated by law), awaiting further evaluation or TLC program dogs who staff/volunteers are working with daily, rabies quarantine holds as determined by law, extended time allowed for owner arrest holds, owner in hospital holds, and deceased owner holds. We also have animals in our care being treated for certain types of illness or ailments, and we work with our veterinary team to determine best housing location based on the pet’s individual needs. If you see an animal on our website, but don’t see them when visiting during Viewing Hours, please check in at the front desk. Staff can provide more information as appropriate.
What data did you evaluate from the Pilot Programs?
Dog Adoption Comparison: Kennel Connection Pilot vs. Current Adoption Model
Data was compared across Wednesday and Saturday mornings, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. (current adoption visit model) vs. Wednesday and Saturday afternoons 2 -5 p.m. with last meet-and-greets beginning at 4:30 p.m. (Kennel Connection/Viewing Hours).
The current adoption visit model in place, whether pre-scheduled or walk-in visits, resulted in 200% more adoptions as compared to the pilot program Kennel Connection where visitors were able to browse through kennels. (Current adoption visit model – 135 dog adoptions vs. Pilot Program – 45 dog adoptions)
This lower amount of adoptions during the Pilot Program highlights that, while browsing in kennels does result in some adoptions, planned adoption visits (scheduled or walk-in) translate into a significantly higher rate of adoptions placements.
Cat Adoption Comparison: Kennel Connection Pilot vs. Current Adoption Model
Data was compared across Wednesday and Saturday mornings, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. (current adoption visit model) vs. Wednesday and Saturday afternoons 2 -5 p.m. with last meet-and-greets beginning at 4:30 p.m. (Kennel Connection).
The pilot program Kennel Connection where visitors are able to browse through kennels, saw a 6.6% increase in comparison to current adoption visit model in place, whether pre-scheduled or walk-in visits. (Current model – 136 cat adoptions vs. Pilot Program – 145 cat adoptions)
This slight increase in adoptions during the pilot program is not a surprise, as cat adopters tend to gravitate to animal characteristics rather than size or breed.
Return Rate Comparison:
In addition, we tracked data for return rates of animals adopted from the shelter.
The return rate for dogs saw little to no difference whether the adopter browsed the kennels or adopted through our current adoption visit model of selecting specific dogs.
Return rate for pilot program - 14.6%
Return rate for current model - 14.5%
Consistency is credited to a required one-on-one meet-and-greet visit regardless of which adoption option the visitor chose to utilize.
The return rate for cats saw a 1% increase during the pilot program where adopters browsed the kennels vs. the current adoption visit model.
This slight increase during the pilot program was a surprise based on cat visitors in either model having the opportunity to browse.
- The data shows OC Animal Care adopts out more dogs with the adoption visit model whether they pre-scheduled or just walk in.
- The data also shows that one-on-one meet-and-greets keep return rates consistent across a variety of visiting options.
- OCAC received feedback from some stakeholders regarding the importance of viewing hours in the dog kennels.
- OCAC is committed to maintaining a save rate above 90% for dogs.
- The goal is to balance smart, successful programming proven to lead to more adoptions in our community with satisfying stakeholder interest in viewing hours for dogs in kennels.
- OCAC is launching daily adoption options, similar to other municipal shelters, which includes Adoption Visits by prescheduled appointment or walk-in model from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. along with daily Viewing Hours of ready-to-go-home pets from 2 – 5 p.m.