"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.