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Humane shelter using match program

Sunday, July 26, 2009

GREENCASTLE -- Personality tests have long been a means to determine if people are compatible. Now, animal lovers can meet their match at the Putnam County Humane Shelter by taking a simple assessment test.

"Not every animal is suitable for every home. Using Meet Your Match (MYM) helps us understand the needs and personalities of each animal in the shelter," said Lyn Bohmer, Putnam County Humane Shelter board member.

"Facilities using MYM are reporting reduced return rates, better customer service and increased adoptions. This tells us that our science-based program is helping people to make good adoption choices. That means lives are being saved," she added.

It's fun and it's got serious science behind it. Developed by the ASPCA and Emily Weiss, Ph.D., C.A.A.B., the program uses proven behavior assessments to predict how a shelter dog, puppy or cat may behave in his or her new home for the first several weeks. The assessments are used with innovative adopter surveys to match adopters with appropriate animals.

A potential adopter fills out what they are looking for in an animal. Dogs and cats have been evaluated through canine-ability test and given a label with a color that reflects their personality traits.

This assessment takes some of the mystery out of the selection process by evaluating a pooch's friendliness and sociability, playfulness, energy level and ability to focus. It also checks the animals' people manners and their motivation (whether they prefer food, people, and toys or have internal motivations).

"The test takes about 20 minutes and increases the likelihood of getting a good pet match," said Bohmer.

Shelters that have used the assessment had reduced the average stay of animals by 50 percent and have very few returns.

People and dogs are given coded colors of purple, orange or green making it easy to identify which dogs are the best matches.

Green adopters are most successful with pooches who like to be physically and mentally engaged. A green pooch can either be the life of the party, a go-getter or a free spirit. This dog is into everything fun and interesting. Life with this dog will keep you constantly on your toes, and the fun is guaranteed. A go-getter lifestyle will keep you motivated to get outside and move. As a free spirit, this dog is intelligent, independent, confident and clever. They prefer making their own decisions but will listen to you if you make a good case.

Orange adopters are a good fit with middle-of-the-road dogs that are responsive and enjoy regular activity and interaction. An orange pooch may be a wallflower, a busy bee or a goofball. They can be shy, yet charming.

Orange can also represent a dog that is naturally playful, curious and trusting. After his job is done for the day, he'll curl up in front of the fire with you. They are also goofballs. This is a fun-loving, happy-all-the-time, glass-is-half-full kind of dog looking for someone who loves to laugh and play around. Owners must have a great sense of humor.

They are easy-going, relaxed and look for low stress relationships. They enjoy a quick snack, two-hour nap and willing to explore all the joys of relaxing together.

Purple adopters are comfortable with canines with a laid back attitude preferring an easygoing lifestyle. A purple pooch can also be classified as a couch potato, a constant companion or a teacher's pet. These guys are like kindergartners on the first day of school. They aren't sure where to sit, when to eat or where the bathroom is. They just need a person they can trust to show them the ropes.

They are also detectives looking to unravel the mysteries of the world with you. Purple dogs will simply use their trusty noses and natural taste for details. Together, you can solve every mystery that comes along.

You don't have to choose a pooch whose color matches yours -- love at first sight does happen. But knowing the color lets you at least prepare for the way your four-legged love will respond when he gets home.

Meet Your Match Feline-ality is a program testing the personality of cats using the same color-coding. This program looks at each cat's enjoyment of being petted and held, their playfulness, "talkativeness" and activity level as well as responses to new people and things.

Each adoptable cat is assessed based on level of interest in play, exploring, "talking," and being the center of attention so that he or she can be placed into one of the color-coded "feline-ality" types that make up the MYM program.

Green coded cats are savvy and adventurous while orange felines make the perfect companions and purple kitties are quiet, seek affection and stay out of trouble.

"Of course, just because a person is assessed as an orange and they fall in love with a green, doesn't mean they can't adopt that dog or cat," explained Bohmer. "This is just a means to help prospective adopters pick an animal that fits their lifestyle."

You can take an online test to discover your color match for cats and dogs at www.arf.net or visit the Putnam County Humane Shelter at 4700 E. S.R. 240, Greencastle.

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you've got to be kidding. Hopefully we've all paid for this study in order for it to be "adopted" into the real world.

-- Posted by whodouthinkur on Mon, Jul 27, 2009, at 7:36 AM

Before judging the study, maybe you should spend some time volunteering at the Humane Society. You would then see the animals that are adopted, then brought back within a week or so. This is hard on the animals since they have already been given up once. They feel they have a new home then lose it again within the "30 day" return deadline. This also happens at Animal Care and Control in Indianapolis so maybe they should try this! I understand we want the animals to be adopted but shouldn't we be sure they have a home that will fit the animal and the new owner!! Good Luck to the Humane Society implenting this process for adoption. And remember, this can always be changed back if it doesn't work so we should support this instead of criticizing. P.S. the "real world" is different to each person.

-- Posted by Confused citizen on Mon, Jul 27, 2009, at 9:59 AM

We recently adopted a dog from the shelter that had been returned by his previous adopter, and it's a sad thing. All puppies are cute when they are little and people are blinded by this and forget that they grow up. Different breeds have differents demeanors and personalities and not everyone realizes this. I am excited to see this program in action, it not only helps the animals but also helps families to decide what's right for them.

-- Posted by WTFRUthinkin on Mon, Jul 27, 2009, at 10:33 AM

This sounds like a wonderful way to see the animal that would most likely fit into your life and find the love and caring that it so desperately needs. I will definately go to the shelter soon. My one problem is-I usually fall head over heals in love with the first dog I lay eyes on. OH well, this has worked out wonderful for our last three adoptions. Each has a complete different personality and we love them for their individuality.

-- Posted by magster4u on Mon, Jul 27, 2009, at 6:18 PM

I love animals and support the humane society but I don't understand why we are raising so much money for them but they won't accept abandon animals? So since the humane society isn't accepting animals that means that we are going to have more stray animals having more liters of babies and so forth. Where do Putnam County residents have to take abandon animals around here????

-- Posted by youngtown on Mon, Jul 27, 2009, at 7:32 PM

Putnam County has an animal control service now that picks up abandoned animals which are taken to the Humane Society. They are quarantined for 10 days to check health, temperament and see if it has a microchip. After 10 days, if eligible, it is adoptable. They even picked up a dog that had been hit and took it straight to the vet for leg amputation. He was brought back to the Humane Society a few days after surgery to be put up for adoption. I think there needs to be a newsletter generated from the Humane Society at least monthly, as an insert in the Monday Banner Graphic, to let the residents know all the hard work and time that is put in there. I had no clue until I spent several Saturdays at the Humane Society. This would help people understand the process. Unfortunately, not everyone has a computer to read their website, which is not updated as often as needed, probably due to shortage of workers/volunteers.

-- Posted by Confused citizen on Mon, Jul 27, 2009, at 8:15 PM

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