Shelter Pet Project Creates Strong Network

Advocacy group highlights pet adoption on Facebook.

Shelter pets received thousands of shout-outs on Facebook and Twitter on Nov. 30, as the Shelter Pet Project encouraged its present followers and potential new ones to use their Internet social networking skills for a greater good. But the designated one-day campaign appears to have stuck well with former shelter pet owners who continue to log in and share their love stories with their pets.

The Shelter Pet Project, a joint effort by the Humane Society of the United States, Maddie’s Fund and the Ad Council, launched its “Celebrate Shelter Pets on Facebook Day” on Tuesday, prompting social media coordinator Christie Keith to have to struggle to keep up with the heavy flow of stories, pictures and notes people posted about their animals rescued from shelters.

“It couldn’t have gone better. I was absolutely stunned. Not even in my wildest dreams had I imagined – it is still happening right now, even though it ended last night – just people posting tributes and love songs to their pets,” Keith told Zootoo Pet News. “In a one minute period there would be 30 to 40 posts and I would refresh the page and then there would be a whole other batch of comments.”

Founded in 2009, the Shelter Pet Project is a unique advocacy group.

“We don’t want your e-mail address and we don’t take donations,” Keith said.

What it does is develop and promote unique advertising campaigns – often with multimedia elements – to appeal to prospective pet owners about the benefits of considering a shelter pet.

And there’s nothing better than hearing from thousands of people – the Shelter Pet Project had its number of “Likes” on Facebook increase from around 19,000 to 25,000 in one day on Nov. 30, and that number has since risen by several more hundred – about why they are glad they brought their dog or cat home from the shelter.

“We did research with the Ad Council and found that the number one reason people fail to follow through on their commitment to adopt from a shelter is because they believe something is wrong with pets in shelters, that they come with a certain amount of baggage,” Keith explained. “Most of the pets have nothing wrong with them.”

This initiative, which was a first of its kind, went above and beyond in showing that, Keith says.

“I was very struck by the number of people who adopted animals most people would traditionally think of as a little less than adorable,” she said.

One Facebook user posted about her dog Zelda, who got abandoned at the age of nine by her family when they moved to a nursing home.

“She was at a city shelter for six months, passed over by people wanting younger dogs,” Zelda’s owner said. “We are the luckiest people in the world to have found her. She was a dear friend and great love for five amazing years.”

Another Shelter Pet Project Facebook follower wrote about her four-year-old mutt, Chilidog, who survived five months in a kill shelter in Georgia and then a long journey by truck from Georgia to Connecticut.

“Although it makes me sad to know what he lived through, we are so happy and committed to making the rest of his life wonderful,” his new owner wrote.

In the past, the Shelter Pet Project has done series of multimedia public service campaigns, including a series of T.V. advertisements that use live animation, enabling pets to “speak directly to you.”

“We try to use humor as we think it’s important to not just hit people with doom and gloom messages,” Keith said.



About Gina Coleman

My goal in life is to be as good of a person my dog already thinks I am.
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