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  • 1.  Challenge Spotlight: Safe Harbor Humane - 2nd Place - Most Creative Adoption Tactic

    Posted 07-02-2019 10:58 AM

    Safe Harbor Humane won the 2nd place award for the Most Creative Foster or Adoption Tactic in the Get 'Em Home Challenge!

    Their winning tactic "Safe Harbor Fantasy Furball 2018" focused on engaging their local community over a shared love of football and animals. Located in Kenosha, Wisconsin the NFL season is a huge deal due to the shelter's location being right on the border of Wisconsin and Illinois where there's no shortage of Packers or Bears fanatics.

    To help adoptable pets find homes, Safe Harbor Humane held a weekend long draft period at the beginning of the NFL season where participants were able to name and create their fantasy football team made up of 5 shelter animals.

    How Fantasy Furball Works

    • Participants chose 5 shelter animals to be on their team
    • Each shelter animal was assigned a point value based on how long they've been at the shelter. The longer they've been at the shelter, the higher their point values!
      • For example: Longest stay animals (stays over 50 days) were known as Veterans and were worth 100 points
    • To participate in the draft, an animal had to be in shelter custody for a week and must be available for adoption (ie, not on medical treatment or in foster)

    Kick off!

    Once your team was selected, Safe Harbor Humane would send participants a team roster with pictures of your team members and their stats. The animal's kennels were also outfitted with a football tag letting people know what team they belonged to which helped spark interest in visitors who came to the shelter.

    After the draft period, the actual fantasy league ran for a month. Participants would earn points based on your team members getting adopted. Participants were encouraged to share their team members on social media to help them get adopted so they could earn points! Safe Harbor Humane also posted football related biographies of the animals on their Facebook page.

    Tackling The Challenge

    The biggest challenge for Safe Harbor Humane to run this idea into the end zone was figuring out the timeline to run it. The team knew they wanted the draft to be a very short period of time so they could include as many animals as possible without all of the participants getting adopted immediately while still wanting the actual league to be a longer amount of time so participants could promote the animals on their team and help get them adopted.


    The first round of Fantasty Furball was so popular, Safe Harbor Humane decided to do a second round. Because of the interest and excitement around the idea, their second round ended a week early because all of the animals on every team had been adopted!

    Next season they plan to expand it to get even more participants and will put a bigger focus on the marketing materials used to help spread the word. They will also use their big event at the start of the football season as a springboard to get new people interested.

    Long-Stay MVP

    The longer a pet was at the shelter, the more points their adoption was worth in your fantasy league. Because of that rule, many people drafted these animals on their team and promoted them on their social media pages.

    One of the biggest success stories was Lacey Mae who had been in the shelter for almost 200 days. Before the challenge, it seemed all the usual tactics of endlessly promoting her on social media, taking her to events or educational programming just weren't working. Lacey Mae ended up being one of the first animals adopted after the Fantasy Furball promotion started by a friend of a participant who saw their post on social media. They fell in love with her and a big party was thrown at the shelter to celebrate her new forever home!

    Coaching Tips from Safe Harbor Humane Team

    If you want to try this tactic in your area, Safe Harbor Humane has a few coaching points to share:

    1.) The success of this program depends on where your shelter is located. If you live in a community with a big football following (either college or NFL) this would be a great thing to try! It brings in a new group of people that might not normally interact with your organization but since they love football, their ears perk up!

    2.) On the shelter end of it, it took very little time to manage the program once it was launched. Sending out weekly email updates to the teams letting them know their standings plus encouraging people to share on social media was the bulk of the work once the league was live.

    "The more creative you are and the more you put into getting the program launched, the better the response will be. We ended up doing multiple rounds because of all the signage in the shelter while it was running, we pulled a lot more people in who wanted to participate." - Safe Harbor Humane

    Visit or like them on Facebook!


  • 2.  RE: Challenge Spotlight: Safe Harbor Humane - 2nd Place - Most Creative Adoption Tactic

    Posted 07-03-2019 05:44 AM

    what a wonderful idea! thanks for sharing this and congrats!


  • 3.  RE: Challenge Spotlight: Safe Harbor Humane - 2nd Place - Most Creative Adoption Tactic

    Posted 07-03-2019 10:54 AM

    So creative and well thought out! Thanks for the deets.


  • 4.  RE: Challenge Spotlight: Safe Harbor Humane - 2nd Place - Most Creative Adoption Tactic

    Posted 07-03-2019 07:03 PM

    What a wonderful idea!  I can't t wait to shelter about this