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New Tool for Adoption Efforts
Videotaping temperament tests?

Ozzie, a four-ish Shar Pei-mix with a brindle coat was delivered to a Los Angeles shelter in a shopping cart. The day dog trainer Robert Cabral met him, the dog laid on the floor in total shock. Because of this, Cabral says, Ozzie was “red-listed,” given fewer than seven days before being euthanized. So Cabral administered and videotaped a temperament test, which Ozzie appears to ace, and sent it out into cyberspace.

“Ozzie was saved, as has become the pattern for dogs we feature,” says Cabral, who heads up Bound Angels, a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of animals, including creating awareness campaigns and educating the public about responsible pet stewardship. Cabral believes rescue has a long way to go in showcasing animals properly on video. “A picture is worth a 1,000 words,” he explains. “People believe what they see, not what they read.”

It’s the first time I’ve seen anything like it, and, if I’m any measure, I’m guessing these sort of videos will be an effective tool in driving adoptions. Ever since I watched the Ozzie spot (and a heart-breaking follow-up), I’ve been plumbing my address book to find a new family for him.

Of course, there are issues. Temperament tests and behavior evaluations have plenty of detractors. Plus, the time and energy involved in taping and posting a test is probably prohibitive for most shelters, and wouldn’t be possible without folks like Cabral. Still, I imagine the impact of seeing a dog behaving well around people, other dogs, even children would be far greater than a couple photos plus a description. Maybe it's an option for those hard-to-place pups.

I ran across Ozzie’s video on Woof in the City, a website/blog created by Stephanie Erney, a 27-year-old administrative assistant in Los Angeles. (It’s always inspiring to see how many people are lending their talents to overtaxed shelter and rescue efforts around the country.) Erney’s two-month-old site is her effort to bring together in one place a complete list of dog rescues in the Los Angeles area (she has 13 so far) and to provide general rescue news information, local calls for support and event notices, and shout-outs for dogs-seeking-forever-homes. It’s a lot of work with a simple goal. She says, “I really hope to get as many dogs adopted as possible.”

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Lisa Wogan lives in Seattle and is the author of, most recently, Dog Park Wisdom. lisawogan.com
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