Be a Valentine for a Shelter Pet With ASPCA's Meet Your Match Program

The matchmaking program has boosted adoption rates at shelters nationwide.

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caged cat, cat in a cage
Meet Your Match kitties range from adventurous ‘greens’ to mellow, loving ‘purples’ who love to cuddle. (Photo: Dimitri Vervitsiotis/Getty)

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, the romantic among us contemplate the eternal question: Is lasting, unconditional love a sugary fantasy? Is there such thing as a soul mate?

Luckily, thanks to Meet Your Match, the chances of finding your forever love are better than ever.

Emily Weiss of the ASPCA has come up with an innovative way to place shelter pets with prospective forever homes. Meet Your Match uses a color-coded system to categorize cats and dogs according to their personality types.  Cats who test green, for example, are adventurous types. Similarly “green” dogs need lots of physical and mental engagement, while purple dogs are easygoing.

Using Meet Your Match helped the Richmond ASPCA, one of the first shelters to adopt the matchmaking plan, to increase its adoptions by almost 20 percent in just a few years, reports the Associated Press. Returns to the shelter dropped by 10 percent.  In 2008, when Richmond launched the program, they found homes for 2,891 dogs and cats. Last year, 3,452 pets found new homes.

On the human side of the equation, potential adopters answer 19 questions about the sort of pet they need (playful, laid-back, etc.) as well as how they plan to spend time with their animal.

Merope Lolis of New York tested as “a purple” through the ASPCA’s adoption center, which meant she needed a cat that would be comfortable being on its own most of the day. And although she fell in love with “a frisky calico,” Lolis kept looking and eventually found Miss Piggy, a five-year-old light gray kitty, which was a good match for her lifestyle.

In the end, she said, “I paid less attention to what I thought was important—what she looked like—and more to personality and whether it would work in the long run.” She also renamed the cat Christina Penelope “because she was much more regal than Miss Piggy.”

But, as Weiss said, with pets as with people, “we know love at first sight happens,” and Meet Your Match is flexible enough to accommodate that. “We don’t want to get in the way of love at first sight.”

Another reason to fall in love with Meet Your Match?

On Valentine’s Day, shelters that use the matchmaking system also offer a reduction in the $95 adoption fee.