There seems to be no end to the things animal shelters can learn from online dating sites. First, it was that using a good picture means you're more likely to get picked. And now, many shelters are using a system called Meet Your Match, which was developed by the ASPCA. It's a program that matches up pets and the people looking to adopt them using a color-coded system that takes into account personalities, energy levels, and needs.
It's like eHarmony for cats and dogs. Potential owners answer 19 questions all about what they want in a pet's personality and activity level. The pets are observed by shelter staff members and rated in different categories like how quickly they settle down and how they interact with other animals. Then both the pets and the people are assigned a color—either green, orange or purple—and within the color there are three different categories which a pet can fall into. Here, according to the AP, is what that means for cats and dogs:
Green is for dogs who like to be physically and mentally engaged, orange for middle-of-the-road dogs who enjoy regular activity and interaction, and purple for dogs who are easygoing. Cats who test green thrive on adventurous, carnival-style living. Orange is for go-with-the-flow pets, while purples require a less exciting, library-like home where they can be nothing more than a love bug.
Hmm, let's all take a second to do a mental calculation of whether our color matches up with the color of our current pets. OK, so anyway, the shelter then finds pets to go with people who have the same color and voila! Matches are made. The shelters that use this program—and there are a lot of them—say one of the best things is that it encourages future owners to focus on how the pet will fit their personality and lifestyle, rather than how how the pet looks.
It's a system that has apparently been very effective in matching pets and owners. For instance, it's increased adoptions by nearly 20 percent in just a couple of years at the Richmond Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and it's also resulted in returns dropping from 13 percent to 10 percent. Not too shabby! Now all we need to do is replace those weird eHarmony commercials that have that creepy Dr. Neil Clark Warren guy with Meet Your Match commercials featuring adorable dogs and cats and their now beloved owners, and all will be right with the world.