We become responsible forever for what we’ve tamed.
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Educational & Skill-Building Adoptions (ESBA)
"Focus on quantity is a set up for mediocre outcomes. Focus on quality is a set up for lasting success."
- Rain Jordan
Why ESBA is Needed
Every time an animal is relocated, there is a decent possibility her behavior as well as emotional state will be negatively affected. With each new environment come responses to that environment; we can hope the animal responds positively, or we can innovate, providing each adopted animal plenty of opportunity for her emotional and behavioral responses to be improved rather than diminished once she’s been adopted and relocated. But how can we do that? We can equip adopters with crucial skills. To most effectively address adoptee behavior after adoption, adopters must be provided these skills before a need arises--that is, before adoption. Since behavior problems are a main cause of abandonment, surrender, and euthanasia, adopted animals have a better chance of lifelong well-being in safe ‘forever’ homes if their adopters are ready willing and able to provide them with non-aversive training & behavior modification as it is needed, in real time, rather than hoping things get better on their own, then contacting a placement organization only when they have given up hope and are seeking to surrender the animal. ESBA can prevent needless surrender and should be provided as part of the adoption process, before an animal is taken home.
Screening-Inclusive Adoptions: Why is Screening Necessary?
Rescues, shelters, and other animal welfare organizations are supposed to do what is best for the animals. We are not fulfilling that obligation if we neglect to fact-find on the animals’ behalf. However, screening does also help adopters: placement organizations objectively assess adopter needs, hopes, and expectations as well as trustworthiness and responsibility level. The goal is to make a good match in which both adopter and adoptee will be happy and well together; that goal cannot realistically be met without first gathering data. Therefore it is important to understand into what conditions placement organizations are placing their animals. Furthermore, between screening and continued personalized contact, services to the adopter are improved. Screening provides insights that help organizations understand how to best inform, serve, and work in supportive partnership with adopters, and ongoing contact helps facilitate lifelong cooperative efforts, not only by responding to difficulties, but by reducing the likelihood that difficulties will arise.
Fortunately, EBSA benefits the human public in many ways. What adopter, after all, wouldn’t benefit by taking home, along with the new adoptee, a powerful new skillset that normally costs $100 an hour or more? Who of the general public wouldn’t benefit by the pet population becoming more behaviorally sound, and guardians becoming more knowledgeable and skilled--resulting, e.g., in fewer dog bites, more affordable and accessible insurance, more housing access for those with pets, et cetera? Shelters, rescues, and sanctuaries benefit by an increase of space and time for the animals that most desperately need them. Every area of the country benefits from an increase in responsible, lifelong homes for companion animals as a result of increasing the number of skilled, humane adopters. The most direct, logical way to achieve that increase is by prevention—by stopping the cycle of surrender-shelter-rehome.
And then there’s the eventual increase in overall societal goodness, not to mention a decrease in the cultural heartache that comes from being part of a society whose beloved companion animals live under a constant threat that the revolving doors of suffering and surrender will yet again recall them.
Statement of Intent:
Improve the situation of companion animals offered for adoption through our nation’s shelters and rescues.
Summary of Goals:
1. Cease putting the responsibility on animals by, for example, a singular focus of making them "more adoptable." "We are responsible forever for what we have tamed." This does not mean we stop preparing animals. It means we stop making them shoulder all the responsibility.
2. Refocus efforts toward helping adopters become more adaptable, more responsible, and more capable to humanely provide for an at-risk animal. Accept the importance of screening, reinvigorate it, and increase adopter buy-in of same, while implementing ESBA.
3. Modify "open adoption" practices that put already traumatized and at-risk animals at even further risk, perform outreach and provide education to the public while offering encouragement and assistance with transition to ESBA for those involved in “open adoption.”
(Note: current misleading euphemisms for open adoption include "educational adoption" and "conversational adoption." Thorough educational adoption includes data collection, assessment of proper match, teaching of skills, et cetera, as part of the conversation.)
4. Enthusiastically promote the ESBA program. Help the public understand that the program is necessary and is the right thing to do for companion animals, who have suffered enough—that the adoption process itself should not put animals at avoidable risk of suffering again.
5. Program’s key innovation: Before taking home an adoptee, each adopter shall be provided, as part of the adoption, not just a new pet, but also a new skillset and knowledge base of anti-aversive Training & Behavioral Literacy (TBL), and shall confirm a commitment to same. In other words, in order to take home an adopted animal, each adopter will take home the gift of anti-aversive Training & Behavior Literacy at the same time.
We the undersigned support this program and encourage others to do the same
Dr. Jessica Pierce, Bioethicist, Center for Bioethics & Humanities, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center
Dr. Bernard E. Rollin, University Distinguished Professor (Philosophy, Animal Sciences, Biomedical Sciences), University Bioethicist, Colorado State University
Dr. Leslie Irvine, Professor (Sociology), University of Colorado--Boulder
Ms. Rain Jordan, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, KPA CTP
Ms. Tina Meredith
Mr. G.P. Van Hoy