Marketing Shelter Hounds in VA

Marketing Yay!:

Animal shelters around Virginia are making a push this month to promote the adoption of all types of hounds.  They’re calling it Howl-O-Ween.

To that end, the Campbell County ACO showed the local TV news crew some of the cute hounds at his shelter.  All good stuff and a great way to engage the public and help get pets adopted.

Marketing Boo!:

On Tuesday morning, [the Campbell Co shelter] euthanized two more hound dogs because nobody would adopt them. We’re told hounds are not always the most desirable dogs.

“They tend to have a little hound dog smell to them and sometimes it takes a little while to house break them.  We do adopt right many of them but it’s not at the top of anybody’s list, I don’t think, for adoptions.” said Campbell County Animal Control Officer Benny David.

Animal shelter workers say they get the most stray hounds around January, right at the end of hunting season.

My takeaway as a potential adopter:  While the hounds may have looked cute in the TV news segment, they smell, they’re hard to house train, they’re hunter throwaways, most people don’t want to adopt them and the place that’s supposed to be taking care of them is killing them.  Hmm, I don’t think I’ll go down to the shelter after all.

19 thoughts on “Marketing Shelter Hounds in VA

  1. I’ve noticed this is really common. It’s like some sort of rescue double-speak. There are those of us in this game who must “SAVE” animals as some sort of martyr game.
    I confess, I get caught in this loop myself.
    I get torn between a really good sales pitch, and talking someone OUT of adopting an animal. I believe in Truth in Advertising. I think part of the problem with people dumping dogs is that nobody gave them the “other side of the story” on the animal in the first place. (And that other side should include hints/tips on how the problem is manageable!) No dog is perfect—but some people really are shopping for the perfect animal!
    What really irritates me is when “shelters” give potential adopters the “other side of the story” and believe themselves so much that they talk themselves into murder. I don’t think hounds deserve to die because they smell bad (fix the diet!) or they’re old. And whose fault is it that they are not housetrained?!?
    I suppose we should be grateful they don’t label them pitties and kill them because they are mean. Arghh.

    1. Truth in advertising is a fair point Lynn. I don’t want to “trick” anyone into adopting a dog that’s wrong for them. But I think media opportunities like this should be used for PROMOTING the adoption special they are currently running. Get adopters in the door, get them looking at/playing with dogs, *then* talk with them about the realities of owning the particular dog they are interested in. And in terms such as “a weekly bath will keep him in perfect cuddling condition” as opposed to “he smells”.

      Not that I’m equating shelter pets to used cars, but as far as marketing goes, you don’t see a used car lot with signs on the cars that say “HIDDEN PROBLEMS!” or “NEEDS WORK!”. Instead, you see “NEW PAINT!” and such. They want to get people in the door. Of course in the case of the car lot, it’s up to the savvy buyer to suss out the realities that go with the product. Hopefully shelter staff are going to see the value in making a good match more than simply moving a product. But I use the example simply as a marketing concept comparison.

  2. I really don’t like talking about euthanasia, especially for pets, because I believe what you focus on makes it bigger. Last thing I would want to see expand is euthanasia programs for dogs.. or the feeling I get from watching dogs get put down.

    But I do think posts like this is great because it raises awareness. Thank you for speaking out.

    Unfortunately, dog euthanasia is an everyday occurrence. There’s even a documentary about this vet whose job is to put them down… EVERYDAY:

    I can’t possibly imagine how I’d live with myself doing that.

  3. Oh, Yesbiscuit, this is such an important post. Thank you for presenting it. And well done, it was a great example of an effect that happens in rescue groups and with shelters all over Canada and the US.

    LynnO hit the nail on the head with her point about truth in advertising. How to convey behavior issues and not “taint a sale?” The age old question.

    Both of you are getting at a crucial issue – the whole presentation is flawed. Imagine going to a retail store that treated their customers and products like that. Who would buy? And like you questioned, Yesbiscuit, who would want to go there again?

    What’s the answer? Well, I think I propose a wonderful alternative (I’d like to think it’s THE ANSWER, but I’m not that conceited!). If you’re interested in reading about a whole new model of animal welfare – a new shelter model – then read this one brief post on our blog entitled, “The End of Animal Shelters” =

    This is part of a series I’m writing which unveils a whole new way of “sheltering.” It changes shelters into adoption centers by changing the focus to marketing and merchandising. Put the best foot forward, if you will.

    It also calls for some attitude change in that it calls for shelter directors to depend on rescuers to do some of the heavy lifting in working with the problem animals.

    Mainly, it’s a common-sense approach to what has become a stagnant, defensive, negative industry which kills millions of beautiful animals needlessly every year – and then turns around and blames the public.

    As a final word, this concept is not one that “throws the baby out with the bath water” – one where it calls for throwing away all we’ve done in the industry. Rather, it builds on good points but changes the terrible ones with guidance from those in marketing.

    There are leaders in sheltering who are trying to introduce new ways, but they are deathly afraid to dive into the water. Instead they’re sticking their toes in hoping to eventually end up all the way in. This model hopefully provides the encouragement needed to convince them to hike up their swim wear and dive right in.

    If you want a quick overview of the whole thing on one single page, check out the model’s overview here =—a-quick-overview.

    Thanks for allowing me to post this rather self-serving message. Please know it’s not meant as personal spam for getting myself noticed. It’s only to help get exposure to a better way. I make no money through these efforts so my heart is pure! :-)

    Great post. Please keep them coming.

  4. As an owner and rescuer of hounds, I have to take exception to your opinion of hounds. Hounds are smart. They have to be to deal with stupid hunters. Hunters who do very little training and yet expect the dog to know where the hunter parked the truck and what time to be back to get a ride home.
    Hounds dont smell any more than any other breed of dog and if you think they do it’s easy to bath them
    Hounds are usually good natured and get along well with all family members especially kids. They make good couch potatoes and jogging partners if you want, and unlike the popular lab and golden, they dont have a tendency to carry junk all around the house and shred stuff and arent as hyper and daffy as a retriever.

    1. I hope you are directing your comments at the ACO quoted in the article and not at me – I’m a hound owner and lover too! Although I do have a bunch of those annoying retrievers as well ; )

      1. I stand corrected. I didnt read the article posted here and the version I read was missing some punctuation /indentation.
        Yes my reply would be to the aco

      2. Unfortunately, we could not work Scout into our home permanently primarily due to the situation with Linus who is extremely fearful. We loved fostering her and hopefully now that she is house trained and fully vetted, it will make it easier for her to be successfully matched with the right home. We gave a list of all her “do’s and don’ts” to APL and they featured her in their last newsletter. She has been at APL for the past few weeks and I’ve been in touch with them regularly to see how she’s doing. One funny thing about her being “reunited” with her pups at APL – she wanted NOTHING to do w/them. APL has begun getting the male pups neutered and some are now ready for adoption.

  5. I don’t think we will ever put a stop to people surrendering pets to shelters. Perhaps many of them can be helped to keep their pets but there are some situations where it will be better for the pet’s well being to be in a new home. So, I don’t think there will be an end to “shelters.” I hope though that there will be an end to shelters as the horrific places some of them have become. Shelter directors should not be afraid of no-kill. We will always need our shelters as a safe haven for lost pets or pets who have no home. We might in the future even use our shelters as adoption centers for animals saved from other countries without such an advanced sheltering system.

  6. Hounds that don’t hunt are wohtless’ it doesn’t cost any more to feed and take of a good dog then a bad one. If I have one that won’t hunt I won’t take it to a shelter, I’ll cull it in the timber and save everyone a head ache. A dog in a shelter doesn’t have a ped.. you don’t know what its breeding is, and even if you do and the dog is no good don’t breed to it kill the dam thing and get it over with! don’t take it to a shelter!!! It’s the law of the land always has been from the beganing of time,.I never take a dog from a shelter home, because they don’t have any cash value!

    1. Most shelters either neuter pets prior to adoption or require the adopter neuter the pet. So there is no significant chance that a dog that won’t hunt who gets taken to a shelter will be used for breeding stock. By killing a healthy, friendly dog just because he doesn’t hunt to suit your tastes, you are depriving him of the opportunity to live out his life as someone’s cherished pet. Cash value aside, pets who are not up to par on hunting skills in your opinion still have great value to many other people in the world.

      1. Gerald, shocking as you will find this, not everyone views dogs in terms of their “cash value.”

        Most people going to shelters to look for a dog or cat are looking for PETS. Not breeding stock.

        And most shelters either spay/neuter before adopting the animal out, or require that it be spayed/neutered within a certain time frame.

        If you were to take your failed hunters to a shelter rather than killing them, they’d have some chance of finding a home with someone for whom they’d be PERFECT dogs.

        or, wild’n’crazy thought, SELL those “failed hunters” as pets, either already fixed, or with a spay/neuter contract, and get back some of the money you spent breeding and raising them, and finding out they weren’t made to be hunters.

    2. Hee hee hee.

      “Failed” hound = “hunter” who can’t train for shit

      Your incompetence can be someone else’s pride and joy, or you can hide your ineptitude with a bullet and blame the dawg.


      The stupidest dog on my place has a cash value that is probably higher than Gerald’s, should something horribly tragic happen to him while he is executing some unlucky hound down the holler. That’s ‘cuz I’ve trained her to do something extremely useful.

      Best stockdog on my place right now was pulled from a pile of frozen shit as a puppy, thrown away to die by someone whose skill with dogs rivaled Gerald’s.

      My only regret is that, being a “rescue,” he is neutered.

  7. there’s exceptions now and then but its in the gene’s thats why knowing the bloodlines is a big plus
    and you all wounder why shelters have too many dogs.

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