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Virtual animal shelters ?How the Internet is transforming the experience of pet adoptions

Across the United States, independent pet rescue organizations are growing in number, working to place abandoned animals in loving new homes. Although the majority of these organizations operate out of clusters of private foster homes, they're successfully winning high visibility for placing their pooches.

In a presentation at the 100th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA) in Philadelphia, University of Cincinnati sociologist Angela Garcia compares how the Internet pet placement experience is complementing the efforts of traditional animal shelters. Garcia's presentation, "Virtual Animal Shelters and the Humane Society: How the Internet is Transforming Pet Adoption" will take place at 8:30 a.m. Monday, Aug. 15, in an ASA session that explores animals and society.

In addition to analyzing 180 homeless dog postings on a pet rescue Web site, Garcia conducted interviews with traditional animal shelter staff as well as pet rescue volunteers. Furthermore, she observed eight animal adoption events sponsored by animal rescue organizations and recalled her own experience of adopting a dog from an animal shelter.

"Because the rescue members and volunteers can easily communicate with each other, coordinate their efforts and arrange adoption events and meetings between potential adopters and those fostering dogs in their homes, the Internet enables these organizations to function as a shelter without having a physical location where the work is done," Garcia says. "Because potential adopters can view photos and descriptions of dogs over the Internet, they can pre-screen them and decide which specific dogs they want to visit in person. The Internet thus has had a profound effect on the process of dog adoption."

Garcia finds that the descriptive online ads can educate potential owners about endearing traits, such as one ad that described a "Velcro lap dog." Other communications can narrow the selection process on the Interne
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Source:University of Cincinnati


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