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March 31, 2011

Help Homeless Pets Find Homes

There are lots of ways you can help your local shelter promote their adoptable animals. Talk with someone at the shelter to see what the needs are, then pick one idea from the options below.

• Deck ‘em out! Make (or raise money to purchase) “Adopt Me” vests, jackets, or bandannas for shelter dogs to wear when walked in public places or brought to adoption events. You can buy plain doggie vests online or at pet supply stores. Write “Adopt Me!” along with the shelter’s name on each. Another option is to use plain white cotton t-shirts in various sizes. Fabric paint or markers usually work well to decorate them.

• Tell their story. Create customized cards to clip to the cages of adoptable animals. The more interesting and informative your cage cards are, the more likely the animal is to get noticed. For best results, create a template on the computer that can easily be filled in.

Talk to those at the shelter who work directly with the animals for details. Ask the staff for permission to play with the animals to learn their personalities. Then write a mini-biography for each animal. Include name, age, sex, breed (or breed combination), spay/neuter status, colors/markings, date of arrival to the shelter, date made available for adoption, special needs, and reason for being in the shelter (whether surrendered by the previous owner or picked up as a stray). Be sure to draw attention to the animals’ unique qualities and personalities—things shelter visitors wouldn’t know from just walking past cages.

Fill in your template and print it out for each animal (handwritten cards are often more difficult to read). Also, stick with plain English instead of using abbreviations or lingo. For more tips on writing attention-grabbing cage cards, check out How to Write a Cage Card.

• Get the word out. Get photos and descriptions of adoptable animals from the shelter. Use them to create eye-catching bulletin boards and posters. For the descriptions, follow the guidelines described in the cage cards project above. Be sure to include details about the animal shelter.

Ask permission from the managers of grocery stores, banks, local shops, and other community areas to display your posters. If the shelter doesn’t already post their adoptable animals to online national databases such as www.petfinder.com and www.pets911.com, create an account and post the animals’ photos and descriptions there. Share the animals' profiles on your Facebook page or other social sites.

Step 2: Educate the public. Carry out a public awareness campaign aimed at keeping pets with their families and reducing pet overpopulation. Topics might include solving pet behavior problems, the importance of spaying and neutering, keeping cats indoors, getting animals from shelters instead of pet shops, making sure pets wear ID tags, or finding animal-friendly rental housing.

• First, create (or download from the Internet and reproduce) brochures, fliers, and fact sheets about the issue(s) you’ve chosen.

• Distribute the materials at school and in malls, shopping centers, veterinary clinics, pet supply stores, libraries, community centers, and other public places. Set up a display table at one of these locations or at an event such as a concert or county fair where you can pass out and explain the materials. Be sure to do so with a parent or friend for safety.


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