While euthanasia rates for dogs and cats in our nation’s animal care and control facilities have been in steady decline for more than three decades, there are still millions of healthy dogs and cats euthanized every year. We as a nation shouldn’t stand for that.
There are thousands of organizations working on the problem, and there are new approaches being tried every day to turn around the problem. But one missing piece has always been a powerful national advertising campaign to change the atmospherics on the issue and overcome false assumptions.
That’s why, two years ago, The HSUS, the Ad Council, and Maddie’s Fund launched the Shelter Pet Project to promote the adoption of shelter pets all across the country. We believe that our innovative television commercials, print and radio ads, billboards, and website have been a big factor in helping to drive more traffic to local animal shelters and rescue groups and to reduce the euthanasia of shelter animals by an estimated 10 percent since 2009.
The television, radio, print, outdoor and Web ads, created by the company Draftfcb, focus on the relationship between shelter pets and their owners, showing pets observing their human companions’ quirky but charming habits and concluding with the message that “A person is the best thing to happen to a shelter pet.”
For the Ad Council, it’s the first foray into animal welfare. Our collective goal is to end euthanasia of healthy and treatable pets by increasing the proportion of adopters by just a modest amount. Currently, fewer than 30 percent of dogs and cats in homes come from shelters or rescue groups, and we’d be able to solve the euthanasia problem if we hiked that number to 40 or 45 percent.
The most important message of the Shelter Pet Project is to make shelters the first choice for those looking to add a pet to their home. These are fun and funny commercials, and I hope you’ll share your favorites on Facebook and Twitter and ask your local news stations to air them.