Animal Welfare Professionals

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  • 1.  Getting exposure beyond our small county

    Posted 01-24-2023 10:14 AM
    Hi all - 

    We're a cat-only shelter in a rural county and we need ideas on how to reach potential adopters beyond our small county.  Our community has been great, but households are getting cat saturated:)

    We're only 90" from the DC Metro area and Northern Virginia cities, and we do get some folks who'll make the drive (generally if they've spotted a specific cat online).

    But if we could reach those larger populations more consistently, we'd obviously move cats into homes much faster. 

    For those of you in smaller towns but with larger population bases nearby, have you found a way to tap into them?



    Debra Moore
    Board Member

  • 2.  RE: Getting exposure beyond our small county

    Posted 01-24-2023 10:43 AM
    Hi Deb,

    We're a rural shelter located about 30 minutes outside of our major metro areas so our issue isn't quite as severe as a 90 minute drive, but some of the things that have been helpful for us:

    We have a satellite adoption location at a PetSmart in one of our metro areas.  It would probably be tough to do something similar with a 180 minute roundtrip for you, but if you can participate in monthly or quarterly adoption events that PetSmart, PetCo, and other pet stores host, that might get you some more exposure.  Typically those events allow you to bring more animals and don't happen as often as refilling a permanent adoption center, so it'd be more time effective.

    We were also able to get on the rotation with one of the local news stations for their Pet of the Week.  If any of your station affiliates (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX) do that sort of thing it might be worth a call to see if you can get in there.  If not, sometimes the local radio stations do the same thing.

    You're probably already doing this, but definitely expanding your network on social media to include adopters.  As you build up the network, posting potential animals there will give you a wider net for anyone connected with your followers.

    If you're not already looking at open adoptions, that could make a big difference as well.  People are much more likely to drive out further if they are more certain they're actually able to get an animal, or if they know they won't need to drive back 1 or 2 more times after they first meet the animal.  The same goes for the number of people who are going to be willing to fill out a 1 page application in the first place vs. a multi-page application that asks personal questions.

    Also getting your animals on PetFinder and any other pet listing website helps get you exposure when people are doing general searches in the area.

    Beyond that, you can try looking at more innovative things like having webcameras on your animals, or going over the top in terms of presentation for bios, descriptions, photos, videos, anything to make  your animals more accessible without actually being there.

    Jeff Okazaki
    Humane Society of Jefferson County

  • 3.  RE: Getting exposure beyond our small county

    Posted 01-24-2023 10:58 AM
    Have you tried partnering with a rescue or shelter? For example, City Dogs and City Kitties is based in DC but they regularly drive up cats and dogs from rural shelters as far south as South Carolina. (I have both adopted from and fostered with them)

    Something else to keep in mind is that many city shelters are overwhelmed by pets right now. They can't even get their own local pets adopted out, much less have capacity to adopt animals from farther away. This is a problem happening in many areas unfortunately. People aren't going to drive three hours when there are more than enough cats down the street.

    M Saucedo
    GIS Analyst
    Pets for Life

  • 4.  RE: Getting exposure beyond our small county

    Posted 01-24-2023 11:55 AM
    Hey Debra!

    I feel that pain with marketing outwards to those who don't already know about your shelter. One thing we've been doing recently is having volunteers take coasters/bottle tags to local restaurants, soda shops, wine stores & hand them out. We've found that national establishments like larger grocery stores have policies in place so we can't add the bottle tags on their brands, but local spots have been super on board with it, plus it saves them a bit on purchasing the coasters themselves.  The QR Codes on them go to our website 24petconnect that we use for all available pets. We learned it was best to do that rather than a specific pet's page because by the time the coasters/tags arrive, they may have already been adopted (which is a great problem to have). I've attached a photo of our recent batch. Hope this helps & best of luck!

    Adoption Marketing

    Sarah Sukhram
    Vol. & Foster Coordinator
    Pasco County Animal Services
    Land O' Lakes, FL