Sunday, January 16, 2011

Making a good idea better

In New York City, the ASPCA runs a mobile adoption van Thursday-Sunday, year-round, the Wall Street Journal reported last week. The vehicle has a large picture window on one side, through which people can see the animals who need a home.

Most of the prospective adoptees are cats – usually not kittens, but “young adults,” whose personalities are easier to judge.

I’m not sure how I feel about shopping homeless animals around in a van or letting people enter the van to take a look. Doesn’t that commodify the animals involved? I am sure how I feel about adopting them out just like that – without background/home checks – if that’s how it happens. I’m against it.

That van might be put to better use, I think. It could still be driven around, loaded with information about adoptable pets, and how and where. But the bulk of its space might be used for stray cats and dogs that could be picked up for sheltering, and/or serve as an animal ambulance.

What if the van were marked with a toll-free phone number that people could call to report a stray cat or dog? What a kindness for an animal on a bitter cold winter night.

Another use: picking up people and their pets needing to get to a veterinarian. Some people can’t or don’t drive, and sometimes the weather can be a deterrent. At such times, when they might otherwise panic because they can’t get an animal to medical help, there’s the van – with luck, just a call away.

Rare prize to the reader who discovers where, earlier in this blog, the idea for a pet taxi or ambulance was suggested. Just send the answer in a comment.

(For details about the van and its schedule, search on “mobile adoption van” at

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