There's a new way to adopt pets at Nassau Humane Society

Old way of doing things was unfair to dogs and potential adopters, group says

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FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. – The Nassau Humane Society is rolling out a new approach to pet adoptions in the hopes of making things easier on dogs waiting for new homes.

It used to be that when someone showed up in search of a new pet, shelter staff would walk them back through the kennel so they could get an up-close look at the cats or dogs up for adoption.

"Most of the time when people come in here, it's almost as if they are window shopping at the mall, so they are like, 'Can I just see your animals?'" said NHS executive director Jacki McDonald.

But recently, the organization has reconsidered that way of doing things, saying it tends to get the dogs riled up and give them the mistaken impression that they’re about to be let out of their cages.

McDonald said dogs jump up at their cages and bark when they're excited. But she said that can potentially scare off would-be adopters who think that the dogs are unruly or out of control.

“These behaviors are not healthy for the dog or helpful to the potential adopter,” the organization wrote in a message posted on its Facebook page Monday morning.

To avoid getting these dogs’ hopes up only for them to be let down, the Humane Society has introduced a new process for pet adoptions. Here’s how it works:

  • Sit and meet with an animal care specialist to discuss what kind of dog you want. For example, is it good with other pets and kids? Are you looking for a certain size or breed
  • Then take a look at the available pets that fit the bill of what you’re searching for. After all, there’s no sense in getting acquainted with a dog you don’t plan to adopt.
  • Sit back and relax while shelter staff bring some different dogs to meet you. This way, the ones you’re not interested in bringing home don't end up disappointed.

Joanna Pagel, the group's behavioral coordinator, said the new way of doing things has already had a positive impact on the dogs sheltered there.

"They are responding really well," she said. "Now they don’t even get as excited and anxious when we are walking by. ... A lot more of them are lying down and relaxing and chilling in their kennel."

Don’t fret if you follow these steps and can’t find the perfect match. You can always ask to meet more dogs. And, if you still haven't found the right one, you can always come back later.

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