The harsh reality is that every year, approximately 3.9 million dogs will end up at a shelter. Of these 3.9 million, 1.2 will be killed needlessly. At the end of the day the problem remains the same- too many irresponsible owners, not enough animals spayed/neutered, and not enough homes.
The advent of social media has helped significantly and just about every animal shelter or rescue organization has a website or social media page these days (see shelters grouped by geographical location here ). Getting the dogs faces in front of the community and breaking down the public’s preconceived notions of what a “shelter dog” is like is the first step. There is a dog of every breed, shape, size, demeanor, and personality out there waiting to be adopted. There is a dog for you- just ask Chris Cognac (if you haven’t read “How a slobbering 80-pound pitbull changed my life forever” stop what you’re doing and go read it)!
Point is, shelters have become very creative with the campaigns and promotions they have run in order to get dogs adopted- some of them are genius, others just plain heartwarming. Here are a few of our favorites…
- Puppuchino Pals
Kitsap Humane Society in Silverdale, Washington paired up with a local Starbucks to create a “Puppuchino Pals Program.” When a volunteer brings a pup into the local Starbucks, the store directs customers to a sign that has the Kitsap Humane Society Instagram account name on it- @kitsaphumanesociety. The volunteers then post a picture of the pup enjoying their puppuchino in hopes of increasing traffic to the site and introducing the dog to the community, and hopefully his/her future owner.
Not only does the program increase exposure and make it more likely the pup will get a home, but it gets them out of the stressful environment of the shelter and allows the dogs to socialize in a much more natural environment.
- Olympics Clear the Shelters
The Olympics were full of glory for some, disappointment for others, and puppies?? Yes, puppies. Olympians such as Michael Phelps, Gabby Douglas, Missy Franklin, and many others teamed up to promote puppies needing adoption. These pups are so darn cute, I really don’t think they needed the publicity of standing next to Michael- but hey, I guess it doesn’t hurt. If you recall, one of these super lucky puppies actually ended up finding her furever home with U.S. gymnast Ally Raisman!
The Clear the Shelters initiative accomplishes incredible things- this year over 700 shelters have teamed up for the annual “Clear the Shelters Drive”. Last year through one single event, 20,000 animals were adopted.
- Flower Power for Pit Bulls
Sophie Gamand is an incredibly talented photographer who used her disgust of pitbull bullying to start a project highlighting the beauty and personality of the breed. The pictures challenge the preconceived notions that much of the public has of them- and if they aren’t the beasts they’ve been made out to be, then perhaps this country can no longer justify killing over 1 million of them a year. Sophie started her project in 2014 and since that time, she has photographed more than 250 dogs- all of whom were looking for homes at the time their picture was taken.
Not only did she photograph the dogs, but she made the headpieces herself. Instead of the dogs being portrayed as monsters straight out of fighting rings, they can be viewed as the beautiful creatures they truly are.
You can purchase her 2016 calendar here (2017 is in the works). Part of the proceeds help fund her project, and another portion is sent directly to rescue groups.
To see more pictures and to read more about how Sophie started the project, visit her site . You can also view the dogs that have been adopted, along with the many others that are still waiting to find their furever homes.
- Pound Puppy Hike
This is one of our favorites! Ivins Animal Shelter has teamed up with Red Mountain Resort, for some of the best hiking in Utah. Why the best you ask? It is downright gorgeous there, and now you can take a shelter pup on your hike with you! There is no pressure to adopt and many who stop by probably just miss their best friends at home. Even though the program was mainly put in place to get the dogs active, to date 70 dogs have been introduced to their now human soulmates as a direct result- not too shabby. And not only is it enjoyable for hikers, but the dogs get a great walk and have an opportunity to socialize outside of the shelter. The more time the dogs have to socialize and work on behavioral and training skills, the more “adoptable” they become and the better their chances of finding a home.
- Mall Based Adoptions
After the Macerich Company banned the sale of animals in pet stores across 70 malls nationwide, the Freehold Raceway Mall let their current pet store renters know they would not be renewing their lease (ie: they would be evicted). Excellent. Now, Monmouth County SPCA in NJ has claimed the spot, and will be bringing in dogs and cats from their local shelters for adoptions. They will also use the space to educate the public on the importance of spaying/neutering and the horrors of pet stores and puppy mills. They have promised to uphold the same standards of adoption that they do at their current locations, and have veterinary technicians on staff to care for the animals.
- Shelter Pet Project
The Shelter Pet Project was the first public service announcement campaign created to increase adoption and save pet lives. The project was a collaborative effort by The Humane Society and Maddie’s Fund (who doesn’t have quite the notoriety, but is an absolutely spectacular organization by the way and offers grants to no-kill shelters. Since 1994 when Dave and Cheryl Duffield created Maggie’s Fund, they have awarded more than $153 million dollars to shelters, animal rescues, and toward medical expenses for shelter animals).Check out one of their awesome adoption ads:
- Pet Photobooth Project
In 2014, we were introduced to photographer Guinnevere Shuster, Teton, and Teton’s now owner, Erin Bird. Erin discovered Teton after pictures from his photoshoot were posted to facebook and began circulating the internet. She says she sent a text “jokingly” to her husband that they should go get him. To her surprise, he completely agreed. The rest is history.
The photographs show what a ham little Teton is and displays his personality so well. It’s so easy to look past a dog when they are sitting behind the bars of a cage, not so much when there are pictures of them like this that show that they are people too. Without them, who knows how long it would have taken Teton to find a home- if at all.
Above is Teton along with Erin’s other dog, Moki.
Check out Guinnevere’s other photo’s of animals up for adoption on their FB page.
- Christmas Sweaters
Ok so not an official promotion, but this last year, the staff at Miami-Dade Animal Shelter made the dogs sweaters. Bobby, who was dropped off mid-December, went viral after a picture of him was taken, weeks later wearing the same sweater.
Christmas came and went, and Bobby was still sitting in the shelter. Then came January. Then February. The one-year-old terrier mix was deemed “code red”, meaning he could have been euthanized at any time.
Then Paola Mariaca came along. She actually was a volunteer at the shelter, and knew she had to take Bobby.
See the happy pair here:
- Pokemon Go Players Pair with Shelter Dogs
The Muncie Animal Shelter in Indiana figured they would capitalize on the Pokemon Go craze, and offered up their furry friends to walk with.
In the first 5 days after the program was introduced on July 12th, 250 people showed up to catch Pokemon with a pooch (while simultaneously taking the dogs for a walk)!
We hear some of the dogs discovered the plot…
Sometimes creativity does go along way. Raising awareness and making the public aware of the dogs up for adoption is more than half the battle. What adoption campaigns have you guys seen? Please share in the comments section!