Adoptions fairs are fun! You get to snuggle dogs, shmooze with attractive strangers, clean up pee and hand out paperwork, what’s not to love?
Before you touch, or do ANYTHING (anything!) we need you to sign a Volunteer Waiver!!
If people are setting up and you have not yet done this yet PLEASE DO NOT HELP.
Fill out a waiver here before your first fair.
Please do not park in the lot at Tailwaggers. There’s lots of street parking on Franklin and in the neighbourhoods north of Franklin. The 2 block walk will do you good! 🙂
The Petsmart lot is usually packed so look for metered parking on the street next to the lot for best results.
Please allow extra time for street parking so that you can arrive at the fair ON TIME!
If you arrive after the fair has been set up please make your way to the fair table and find the Volunteer coordinator or staff member for the event and say hey. If it’s your first time you’ll get a welcome intro thingey from our volunteer coordinator or a staff member on duty that day. Please also make a name tag for yourself and slap it on your shirt!
If you are part of the set up team you can do this after the fair table is set up. Don’t forget!
Senior volunteers and staff who can help you with applications or answer questions will have a red (or crudely drawn purple) star on their name tag.
Each fair needs a table and dog pens. Both fairs also has a sandwich board for outside.
Tailwaggers board goes on the corner of Bronson and Franklin. Tailwaggers also has a banner to hang to the outside of the building from hooks in the brick.
Petsmart board goes out the back door along the street
The fair table is where we do business. It should have
Each fair location has a couple of wire pens that are stored in a backroom.
At Tailwaggers the room is the most easterly “staff only” room.
At Petsmart the pens are kept in the storage area by facilities and we need to wait for management to bring them out.
Each pen should be partially lined with newspaper (Tailwaggers) or a peed pad(Petsmart) and a water bowl should be placed near an edge. Try to keep the paper and water at the corner FURTHEST from the pen door/entrance.
As dogs arrive their info sheet (found in the white binder on the fair table) should be clipped to the pen so that potential adopters can independently learn about each dog. Leave the info sheet in the plastic sleeve and remove the entire sleeve from the binder.
Fosters are expected to pick up their dogs at the end of fair unless their dog has been adopted (or has transport previously arranged by Crystal). When a foster drops off their dog you can help them place a dog in a pen with other dogs similar in size and then remind them to come back at 4 (Tailwaggers) or 5 (Petsmart). A simple “see you at *time*” will suffice.
If the foster says that they are not returning, then make sure they speak to someone in charge to check that this has been pre-arranged withCrystal. (Otherwise we end up with a stranded dog)
Not all dogs behave like themselves at adoption fairs. Dogs who are usually perfectly normal, happy dogs might appear shy, overwhelmed, tired, bored, or frantic after a few hours at fair. They tend to be most relaxed at the very beginning before the wave of strangers arrive so if you have a moment to greet a few dogs and gauge them, please do. It’s also a good idea to scan the info sheets of each dog (at least the ones in your vicinity) so you can more easily talk about the dog to a potential adopter.
The more outgoing you are the better. YOU should start the conversation. Asking a question like “Would you like to meet someone?” is a great ice breaker. This will usually garner one of two responses.
If it’s your first fair try and choose one pen and hang around it. You will quickly get an idea of the dogs’ personalities. You may be be new, but every minute you spend with our dogs is one more minute than someone who has never met them at all. You’re the expert now.
You can always point the visitor to the info sheets if you don’t know the answer to their questions.
If someone seems really interested in a dog they are not only welcome to touch, pet, hold and interact with the dog but they can take the dog on a short walk (in the store, or outside) to spend some more intimate meet & greet time together. Many dogs behave differently outside of the fair than they do in a pen so a walk is highly recommended.
Please don’t let visitors reach into pens on their own. If you need to enter the pen instead of reaching over to help them get the dog out that is fine, just don’t let anyone escape. If you don’t feel comfortable entering a pen or reaching for a dog (especially a dog with a biting history) please ask for help from someone more experienced.
If someone wants to walk a dog have them give you their car keys (or house keys, or phone if they don’t have a car handy – a driver’s license won’t do because they can get home without it. People never forget their phones!). Put their valuable possession in the black “tool box” on the fair table (or donation jar) and then help them get the dog out of the pen and on a leash. If you know the dog well and feel they might be a good match you are welcome to walk with them to answer their questions as you go.
Help keep the neighbourhood clean by always providing poop bags to anyone walking our dogs.
You will probably have to answer a few questions throughout the day, but it’s always helpful for us when someone can keep an eye on the biters pen (the pen of dogs who have anxiety and/or bite) as well as watch for water bowl spills, pee and poop!
If you spot a potty accident grab some paper towels, cleaner spray, a poop bag (as needed) and then fresh newspaper and get to it!
A straight adoption is when someone comes in and takes dog home in the same visit.
This often happens when people apply online and arrive having already spoken to our office Manager Alexis, been approved to adopt, and they simply want to meet the dog and then sign on the dotted line. Most of these people have also already provided photos or video of their home or arranged a home-check.
Occasionally someone is inspired when they meet a dog and are committed to the adoption even if it was “spur of the moment”. This is less common and for most visitors we recommend Foster-to-Adopt
Steps to a straight adoption:
Foster to adopt is when someone takes a dog home for a week as a “trial run”.
This is our most popular adoption method and we have found that it leads to better matches and less “buyers remorse” from first time pet owners. If someone is interested in adopting a dog but has reservations about how their dog will get on in their home due to kids, other pets or a busy schedule, we will allow an approved adopter to take the dog home as a foster for the week, with the hopefully intention of adopting the following weekend.
We continue to provide food, supplies and medical care during this trial run but we request a decision on the adoption by the next week. In some cases we can extend the FTA period if a dog has a history aggression or requires special medical treatment.
Steps to a Foster To Adopt adoption:
We need fosters, ALWAYS. DWB rescues dogs every week and without a home for them to go to they end up in boarding (which is expensive for us, and doesn’t help us learn anything about the dog, nor get them adjusted to a life of love).
When you meet a visitor who is unsure about whether they are ready to commit to a dog you should tell them about fostering. We try to match fosters (especially new foster) with a dog that suits their preferences (size, breed, sex, etc). If a potential foster has kids, cats, or another dog that’s TOTALLY FINE but of course we will make sure that their foster dog is suitable for those things.
Each fair has at least one DWB staff member and usually a few senior volunteers. The DWB staff member will typically be loitering near the table as they will require constant access to the paperwork. If you’re not sure – ASK!
Near the end of fair Fosters will start to trickle in to collect their dogs. A newer foster will probably hang back while a more experienced foster may just collect their dog from the pen and say “Bye!!” and head out. As dogs leave the building pens should be collapsed. Except in the case of the “biters” and very small puppies, most dogs can be moved between pens easily and it’s a good idea to group the dogs into one pen while you collapse another.
Tear down to-dos:
Thank you so much for Volunteering with us. Before you go – no matter what time that’s at, please sign out! See you next time 🙂
Please remember that it is a privilege for DWB to hold fairs at these locations and it’s our responsibility to treat the space with respect. As a DWB volunteer we are counting on you to help us present DWB to our hosts, and our clients as an inclusive, friendly and welcoming organization. We are very grateful for your help and hope that you continue to be part of the DWB team.