Perfect Matches: Interview with a Pet Matchmaker

Perfect Matches: Interview with a Pet Matchmaker

Get ready to foster or adopt your next best friend, and who better to guide you than a dedicated doggie matchmaker! I recently had the pleasure of working with Laurel Slutsky, a volunteer at the Austin Animal Center (AAC), who specializes in pairing dogs in need with their forever homes or finding them a foster. After feeling burnt out from previous matches and questioning whether I should continue fostering, I came across Laurel's post on an AAC plea for fosters, stating she would help match anyone with potential dogs. On a whim, I messaged her, honestly sharing where my life was at and what I was capable of contributing to fostering. Laurel listened and perfectly matched me with my latest foster. Thrilled by how well she understood my needs and capabilities, I decided to interview her to uncover what goes into making these exceptional matches. Through social media and innovative matching forms, Laurel and her team have revolutionized the way AAC connects dogs with potential adopters and fosters.

Her Journey to Pet Matchmaking: Laurel’s journey into pet matchmaking began after the passing of her beloved black lab in early 2023. Seeking a connection with animals, she started volunteering at AAC, never imagining it would lead to her crucial role in pet matchmaking. Laurel now manages the social media platform @atxdogsforadoption to advocate for dogs in need, particularly those at risk. She also collaborates with organizations like Rescue ATX Dogs (@rescueATXDogs), focusing on finding the perfect match for dogs and their potential new families, especially during times of intake closures and space crises.

The Art of Matching: Laurel explains the meticulous process of matching dogs to potential homes: "The matchmaking form ATX Dogs Match Making Form plays a crucial role, allowing adopters to express in their own words why they are interested in fostering or adopting. This approach helps us understand the lifestyle and preferences of prospective adopters, ensuring that each match is tailored to suit both the needs of the dog and the capacity and lifestyle of the foster or adopter."

Advice for Meeting a Potential New Pet: When meeting a potential new pet, Laurel suggests asking about the dog’s interactions and behavior in and outside the shelter environment. She explains that a dog's behavior in a shelter, a highly stressful environment, can be dramatically different from their behavior at home. Many dogs, once stressed in the shelter, thrive in foster care or adoption, enjoying outings and even visits to places like patios or breweries. Understanding a pet's true nature is critical, which is why fostering is so valuable.

Fostering Insights: Laurel emphasizes the importance of understanding your own lifestyle and the changes you are willing to make when fostering. She advises potential fosters to consider their home environment, daily routines, and the realistic amount of time they can dedicate to a new pet. "Most dogs need less than you think; being on your couch all day versus staying in a shelter makes a world of difference for them. Be honest with your matchmaker to ensure you are paired with a dog that fits your needs. Trust me, there are plenty of amazing, lazy, house-trained couch potatoes at the shelter!"

Encouraging New Fosters: Laurel encourages those hesitant about fostering to consider the significant impact they can have. Fostering not only saves a dog from potential euthanasia but also opens up space for another dog in need. She reassures that the shelter and the amazing organization Friends of AAC provide extensive support, including medical care and behavioral resources, making fostering a less daunting commitment.

The Impact of a Successful Match: Laurel’s goal is to see each dog thrive in a stable, loving home. She highlights the importance of thorough matches, which lead to successful fostering experiences and, eventually, adoptions. This success motivates adopters and fosters to continue supporting AAC’s mission.

Through her dedication and innovative approaches to pet matchmaking, Laurel Slutsky has become an indispensable part of the Austin Animal Center’s mission to find forever homes for at-risk dogs. Her work not only saves lives but also enriches the lives of adopters and fosters, creating a community united by a love for animals.

Friends of AAC is an amazing program we are proud to support and sponsor. Friends of AAC enhances the lives of Austin's shelter pets and helps remove barriers to adoption. Their work includes providing medical, behavioral, and shelter support, along with assistance for fosters, volunteers, and staff. Learn more here: Friends of AAC.

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