Thinking creative is in, killing dogs and cats is out! Here are some ideas and thoughts real shelters are implementing that can help reduce kill rates and start innovative thinking!
Offer incentives for adoption or spay/neuter: The Animal Foundation in Nevada is offering, through the month of August, free vaccinations for life to animals brought in for a spay or neuter. A shelter could easily do something similar for adoptions.
Reduce adoption fees: The Humane Society of Northeast Georgia noticed a decline in adoptions during the summer months. Instead of feeling sad and sorry for themselves, they now offer severe adoption fee discounts through September. Dogs are only $50, instead of $70-100. Name it something cute, like the Dog Days of Summer. Or for a short stint, waive adoption fees entirely like the Arizona Humane Society.
Work with local businesses to set up satellite adoptions in heavy-traffic areas: The Humane Society of Naples is starting a satellite adoption center in a local mall.
Use technology to your advantage: Washoe County Regional Animal Services, which contracts out all adoption to the Humane Society of Nevada, uses technology that allows officers to immediately take photos of found animals while in the field and post them on the web, access databases of lost animals to see if the found animal is one, and uses less sexy technology - like their feet -to walk the neighborhood and see if anyone recognizes the loose animal. This helps prevent animals from even entering the shelter system. Plus, in Washoe County, you can buy your dog tags online. A shelter that focuses on adoptions in a positive way will also increase the volunteer/foster base.
Be positive: There is a large base of scientific evidence that people are more likely to help when they are made to feel good about it. Channel those natural feelings of compassion and learned empathy well. Instead of blaming the amorphous "irresponsible public", who is also, by the way, your target audience, focus on making your shelter presentable, accessible, friendly and an authority on Good Things Related to Dogs and Cats. People want to give. People want to help. Making it easy for people to help will increase adoptions. Making it easy for people to feel guilty or ashamed is a great way to lose your audience.