“This is why we’re here.”

Want different results?  Change the things you’re doing!

The Greater Androscoggin Humane Society (GAHS) in Maine made some significant changes last year with regard to aggressively marketing their pets.  They launched a social media campaign and got creative with adoption events – including a 24 hour adopt-a-thon.  They became better known in the community.

As a result, instead of maintaining an overcrowded facility of homeless pets, they are now importing pets from other shelters to meet demand.  Adopters sometimes even wait in line for hours outside the shelter for the chance to be first through the doors when the place opens.

Can the importance of marketing shelter pets be overstated?  I think not.  Check out Dogged Blog’s post from yesterday on the subject:

If people mired in this old-school, ineffective, failed paradigm would step out of it for a few minutes, they’d realize how bad they’re making themselves look every time they, always predictably, trot it out. “It’s not our fault we do what we do,” they say. “It’s all the bad people! Blame them! We’re just helpless victims!”

You people really need some new material.

My suggestion that you get new photos will help get those pets into homes. Think about that while you continue to enable your community’s filthy high-kill shelter to fail the animals inside its walls.

Carl Willing, an adopter who took turns with his wife holding a place in line overnight at GAHS in order to get first chance at a dog named Bo, remembers the experience when they finally got inside the shelter:

“Seeing Bo, when he came out,” Willing said, pausing to lovingly scratch Bo’s ears. “Oh, yes! This is why we’re here.”

This is why we’re here.  How great is that to read from an adopter?

To those facilities who refuse to post all their pets online and aggressively market them to the community, I ask:  Why are you here?  The public is the solution to your problems.  Stop blaming them.  Stop forcing pets to pay for your stubborn ignorance with their lives.  We are a no kill nation.  Join us.

13 thoughts on ““This is why we’re here.”

  1. Could there be a down side to marketing pets too aggressively? They aren’t commodities that should be bought just because someone sees a cute picture online. If their tactics are keeping pets adopted that’s great! I just hope people don’t regret adopting an animal at an event they were excited to attend and end up abandoning it or returning it.

    I do think taking better pictures of animals is a good idea and getting the word out about how adopted animals are good pets increases chances of adoption. I’m just not sure I shelters should create hype around their “product.”

      1. Very good point! The attitude that a dog or cat is better off dead than in a less-than-perfect home just boggles my mind. Honestly, most of them are far better off roaming free than in our animal shelters. Sure it can be a lonely, hungry and cold existence, but their chance of staying alive is far greater as a stray than at so many kill shelters. And in the wild at least they can get away from the stink of their own urine and feces–lots of shelters make them wallow in it.

    1. I see NO downside to marketing pets aggressively. However, these concerns don’t have to be something we just wonder about. You can just look at your bounce rate, and if it gets higher among pets adopted during a specific campaign, you change that campaign or focus on one of your other ones.

      Shelters and rescue groups can, and must, start using these simple principles of tracking, data, and marketing to give the very best of everything we have to help homeless pets. Sitting there wringing our hands over the dangers of turning pets into commodities isn’t helpful. Tracking the data and responding to it like a full-fledged and grown-up non-profit or business, is.

      1. At this point I would think there are probably enough shelters who’ve used various marketing campaign strategies that there’s likely already documented experience on how well some types work. So, seems to me, the directors need to get talking to one another.

  2. I like how the article states that their area “doesn’t have a pet overpopulation problem”. No one needs to have a pet overpopulation problem if the community pulls together…

  3. I live in Maine and applaud The Greater Androscoggin Humane Society for yelling, posting, networking and doing whatever it takes the get the word out to adopt! I found a little mixed F puppy online this past summer. She was in a high kill ACC in Columbus, GA. I contacted a group of hard working ladies down there that spend countless hours, money and whatever else they have to give to rescue these babies from high kill shelters and give them a chance at life. It was because of all the posting and networking they did my little girl Tessie is alive and well living the good life in Maine. There are so many pets that die in shelters ever day because of the lack of foster home, adopters or funds. Thank you GAHS for caring so much about all these lives that deserve a chance. Maybe GAHS and Soul Saver Rescue can form a relationship and get more of the GA pets up here and into loving homes.

  4. Their Facebook page is awesome, love how they employ marketing strategies to get adoptable pets out there in their community.

    Kudos to this group of folks who are making a difference.

  5. I wonder if they are willing to give a class or some advice on how they got to this point. Only 3 adult cats left in the shelter is awesome – they usually languish for years. It would be great if other rescues/shelters around the country could achieve this.


  6. I too would like to see more info posted about how the shelters that are saving most of their pets are doing it – detailed step by step info would be very helpful.

    Like what kind of press releases are they using to get more foster homes or volunteers. How many adoption events do they try to do per month or year? How often do they send out press releases to the media?

    Hey, what about doing some kind of interview with some of the shelter directors that are really shining a light on what our shelter could be? Maybe interview a different one once a month or once a week?

  7. I completely agree that marketing helps in these things and that is why MAS is in such sad shape (well that and the lack of compassion but you know).

    Adopt-a-thons just mean that you would get the animal but just at a discounted rate right? Ive never heard of people waiting in line for a long time just for a discount (not that its a bad thing by any means!) so I was just surprised..

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