Finding homes for the thousands of homeless pets requires many approaches. Think of ways you can reach more potential pet parents beyond shelter adoptions and offsite adoption events at pet stores. How could you cast a wider net to reach more families you haven’t reached in the past? Here are a few ideas you could try.
Partner with Other Nonprofits at Offsite Adoption Events
Many people say they find it too depressing to visit an animal shelter. An off-site adoption location may create just the right environment to help potential pet parents visualize that homeless pet as part of their family.
Could you participate in another nonprofit’s event by showcasing some adoptable pets, specifically events that don’t relate to animals? For example, we just attended a community event called the Souper Bowl, a fundraising event on behalf of a food bank serving northern New Mexico. Thirty or so restaurants compete with their best soup recipes. About 1000 people attended, raising $50,000. This venue would be a good place to have some adoptable pets on hand, or maybe pets looking for foster homes.
Spread the Word with Email
Intermix Technologies based in Ridgeland, MS, whose business does not relate to animals at all, publishes an email newsletter every week showcasing adoptable cats and dogs in their area. Go to Dogs Need Homes to read how this program got started. Click on the “past issues” on that page to see the well-written stories and very appealing photos. This is a successful program since it goes out to animal lovers in the area who then forward the email to their friends and colleagues.
Training Dogs to Increase Adoptions
Ask for dog trainers to volunteer to help socialize and train your shelter or rescue dogs that need special help. Dogs often appear hyperactive to potential pet parents due to a lack of exercise and training. It’s great public relations for the trainers and could mean life itself for those dogs. Give credit to these volunteers in your newsletter and on your website.
Showcase Your Pets in an Art Exhibit
Prepare a photography exhibit of your adoptable pets. Ask a local art gallery, a bank, hotel, restaurant, mall, etc. to hang these photos for a weekend. Ask local teenagers or even a professional photographer to take the photos. Perhaps you can offer refreshments. Ask to have one or two of your best-behaved adoptable dogs on hand. If your community has art gallery openings on Friday nights, etc., be ready with your adoptable pet photography exhibit. Hand out coupons at this event for discounted adoption fees with a time expiration.
Offsite Adoption Events in Parking Lots, Shopping Malls or Empty Storefronts
You frequently see offsite adoption events at pet stores, specialty pet boutiques, etc. What about expanding these to big-box retailers such as home improvement stores or shopping malls? They typically have plenty of space to do this without being in the way of customer traffic. Instead of a one-weekend event, why not try adoption events every weekend for the month of May, etc.
About a year ago I was in Albuquerque at the Albuquerque Uptown shopping area. One of the largest humane societies in Albuquerque had a mobile adoption unit parked at a strategic location you couldn’t miss as you walked toward the stores. No one could resist stopping by to take a look at the adorable pets waiting to be adopted.
Learn from Other Animal Groups
See an online presentation on the Maddie’s Fund site. This presentation is from the Nevada Humane Society and is quite lengthy but definitely worth the read. You’ll see photos of flyers and posters they used in their adoption events. Some are very clever such as the “Fat Cat Adoption Days” with the offer to adopt a beautiful plus size cat for just $20. Notice how they target specific groups of pets and aggressively promote adoption events just for them.