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7 Tips to help get your adoptable pets noticed

Gypsy poses for her adoption photos at Rough Road Rescue in Perryville, Mo.
Gypsy poses for her adoption photos at Rough Road Rescue in Perryville, Mo.
Gila Todd

Many animal organizations, new and old alike, wrack their brains on how to get their adoptable pets out into the public eye. While you may use one or many of the following tips, there may be a couple you haven’t yet thought of.

  1. Keep your pet listings on Petfinder and Adopt-A-Pet (and other sites) up to date
    • If you don’t have a Petfinder or Adopt-A-Pet account already, set one up. These are nationally recognized sites that cater to animal organizations and they are searched thousands of time per day. You would be surprised at the number of people who check these sites with frequency in their search for a companion. Some animal rescues have been known to scan these sites in search of animals in high kill shelters that they can pull before their euthanasia dates.
    • Make sure to update the information about your pets on a regular basis. If you listed your pet six months ago you’ll need to update the animal’s age at the very least. It is also good to update the general description from time to time as you learn more about the habits and behaviors (and antics) of the pets in your charge. Current images are a must as well.
    • When your pets are adopted, remove them from your listings. You don't want people inquiring about animals you don't have.
    • When you get a new pet, add it as soon as it is available for adoption. If you don't put it on your Petfinder or Adopt-A-Pet account, people have no way of knowing you have it. They cannot adopt what they don't see.
  2. Build a website.
    • Websites are the best stationary place to host all the information about your organization and of course your pet listings. If you don’t know how to build a website enlist a volunteer to do it for you. There is almost always someone knowledgeable about website construction willing to volunteer their time and skills to help out their local animal organizations.
    • Make sure to keep your pet listings on your website current. If you have a Petfinder or Adopt-A-Pet account, they can be coded into your website and will update automatically in your web pages as you list or change descriptions of animals on your Petfinder or Adopt-A-Pet accounts.
    • Almost all granting foundations will want to check out your website to see what your organization is all about and the pets you are saving. It’s important to keep all of your website information up to date.
  3. Show pets off with great images and videos
    • Great images are always the best way to get your pets noticed. When I say great images I mean images that are sharp and in focus, full body shots, as well as a good facial close ups. Nothing gets to the heart of an animal lover like the soulful eyes of a pet.
    • When photographing pets it’s a good idea to get down to eye level with them. What can you tell from a body shot of a dog standing right over the top of their back?
    • Have a handler to help when you take images. Having someone to handle the animal’s makes the job easier and cuts the time in half. Also, having a set of human legs, hands, etc. in the image will help to add size and scale to the pet you are photographing.
    • Never take images of animals behind fences. Animals photographed behind fences may appear dangerous or pitiful, neither of which is the right kind of attention for a pet in need of a new home. Contrary to popular belief, pitiful images of animals are not what helps to get them adopted. No one wants to adopt a pitiful animal. Images depicting the true nature of a pet are always the best bet.
    • Because animals move so much during photographing, the natural lighting of the outdoors is better for your images as opposed to reduced indoor lighting. Indoor images almost always require a flash which is usually harsh and doesn’t make for good images, especially those of pets. Also, taking an animal out away from the distraction of other animals will make photographing them easier and more enjoyable for you and the animal both.
    • Take video of playful or silly pets to show off their personalities. Anytime you can show an animal's behavior is a bonus and people love videos.
  4. Share complete, accurate descriptions about your pets; i.e. their breed, size, likes, dislikes, behaviors, etc.
    • Always be honest about the nature of the pets in your charge. If they don’t like other dogs, say so. If there is food aggression, say so. Being dishonest about a pet’s behavior and habits will many times mean adopted animals will come back to your rescue or shelter.
    • Make sure to list your pet’s breed accurately. So many times organizations will generalize the breed or mix of the animals they are trying to find homes for. Make sure to be as accurate about their breed as possible. Seek help or buy a breed chart to better enable you identify and label your pet breeds.
  5. Network your pets on Facebook
    • Facebook is an unwanted pet’s best friend these days. Thousands and thousands of adoptable pets are shared on Facebook every single day and seen by millions of viewers.
    • Facebook is free and costs your organization nothing but the time to post and repost your animals.
    • Here we go with great images again. With the thousands of animals posted daily on Facebook, eye grabbing images are the trick to getting your animals seen and paid attention to.
    • Keep your pets in the top of your Facebook timeline. With all the activity going on with rescues and shelters it is easy for your adoptable pets to get lost in the chaos of day to day communications. Make sure to post or repost at least a couple of your animals on your Facebook timeline each day to keep them fresh in the minds of your readers.
    • Network your animals with breed animal related and breed specific rescue pages by posting your adoptable pets on their timeline. Even if they do not share with their readers they may be willing to help you place a pet and their readers will be able to see your need in the “posted by others” section of the page.
    • Always answer questions on your posts and in your message box. Not responding may mean the difference in getting a pet into a good home or not. If you don’t have time to post and monitor a Facebook page, seek out a trusted volunteer with good knowledge of your organization, and its animals, to do it for you.
  6. Advertise your pet of the week with local news media
    • Check with local newspapers to see if they will allow you to run a pet of the week in their pages. Many newspapers and local magazines already have such columns available and if they don’t, make the suggestion that they start. Most will be agreeable because animals will draw a whole new readership to their pages.
    • Call local radio stations and ask if they have spots available for local non-profit organizations. Chances are they do. Many stations save a limited of number of spots for local charities and you need to get your name in the pot. You need just as much help as the next guy.
    • Many media groups have websites and Facebook pages and may be willing to share your adoptable pets there. Be ready to provide good images and complete description, just in case.
  7. Take adoptable pets or pet notices to local events whenever you’re able
    • Pet supply stores like Petco and Petsmart already have programs in place to handle local adoption events. Call your local Petco or Petsmart to see how you can get a time slot to have your own adoption event.
    • Check all area pet related stores, groomers, farm suppliers, or service groups to see if you can host an adoption event with them. Most will jump at the chance to draw a new crowd and many times will donate goods or services to your organization.
    • Find local businesses that are willing to let you put up flyers, bulletins, or notices in their stores to display your adoptable pets and organizational events. Make sure that any information you distribute contains all of your organizations contact information, website address, and Facebook page.